During the seven years I was in the corporate side of fitness, I noticed that when it comes to sales, the majority of trainers/coaches struggled because they were afraid of rejection and simply were not prepared to communicate effectively with the person sitting in front of them. When we are unprepared, we lack confidence, and when we lack confidence, we lose interest in and hate the process.
In most cases it does not matter how much of a badass coach you are ,because if you can't connect and convert a potential athlete into a client, you aren't training. If you aren't training, you aren't making money. If you aren't making money you are unable to do what it is you love to do.
First, we need to take a quick glimpse into sales psychology: This will only scratch the surface, but will better arm you with an understanding and a new level of confidence to communicate and connect with your potential athletes.
What Motivates Us to Buy?
There are two forces that influence people to buy: the desire to gain pleasure and the need to avoid pain.
- Some train to improve performance and gain an advantage, even to look better—this is a form of pleasure
- Some train to not get fat, feel ashamed or simply to keep up with their peers—this is a form of pain
You get up at 4:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. so you can train, your brain is saying "being better conditioned will make me feel better about myself and I won't look foolish in front of the team" Some will hit that snooze button and generate the pleasure vs. pain inner dialogue. The pain of embarrassment and even disappointment becomes far greater than the pleasure of sleeping in late and that potential pain motivated you to take action.
The decision-making processes
The buying process is a tug of war between the front (executive brain) and back (reptilian brain). When we buy something, it is believed the emotional reward trumps the analytics.
It is believed we will do much, much more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure.
Understanding the fundamentals that drive the decision-making process helps to arm us with psychological principles that can serve as a guide in governing the response we want.
You MUST identify the potential client's "WHY" that is driving their purpose to gain immediate pleasure and to avoid impending pain, so that the ACTION is committing to the training program with you.
Most of us are positive in nature, therefore, don't realize how important the element of pain is in the selling process. Not to forget, it seems counter intuitive to bring this into a "sales" conversation and can make us uncomfortable
You must sell through both PLEASURE and PAIN.
Dissatisfaction leads to ACTION—Using calibrated questions can guide the person into expressing their current state of dissatisfaction and into opening up about what it is they want and need from a S&C program and coach. They must express this. You are simply asking the right questions to navigate the conversation where they discover on their own that what you have to offer will benefit them.
Here are some common objections from potential clients along with possible responses to help you make the sale:
Not Enough Time
Objection: "I just don't think I am going to have the time between school and practice to commit to additional time."
Response: I can appreciate time being such a precious commodity and it's the one currency we will not get back once it is gone. Up until this point, you mentioned that what you have been doing hasn't given you the return on that very investment. Rather than wasting more time, what is it that is holding you back from committing to the program?
Cost Is Too Much
Objection: "Between club dues, the skills coach, travel expenses and all the miscellaneous costs, I just don't know if I can afford to pay for another coach."
Response: If we were to take a glimpse at six months from now, and in fact you have gained that needed speed and strength to break off the line, past the corner and into open space, the very struggle you once had that is not an attraction value to the scouts watching you. Would the extra investment be an issue?
Afraid to Commit
Objection: "I already practice with the team and we have weightlifting days with the coaches. So, I don't see how this is going to help me more than what I am already doing."
Response: If you don't mind me asking, what is it that you are unwilling to allow to happen? Are you willing to leave your success to what you are currently doing that seems to fall short of maximizing your potential? Or do you refuse to fail and take extreme ownership over your future and take action here, with me today?
Tools of Influence
Build rapport by connecting with the person sitting in front of you.
You can do this through a series of techniques such as mirroring, but for today we will keep it simple with finding something in common with the person. The root origin of communication is "common." We want to buy from and spend time with people we like. When we find things in common it borrows from a principle in psychology called "liking" which was coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini. When we establish commonality, it is said upwards of 90% of interactions are able to come to a successful and agreeable outcome.
Articulate both the pleasure gained and pain avoided
You mentioned earlier in our conversation that improving your 40-yard dash time was a 9 out 10 on the level of importance because you feel it will help you play for your dad's alma mater, carry on the family legacy and not lose out on those moments you can share together.
Listen intently, be empathetic to their cause and always show enthusiasm. Intentional listening is felt by the person sitting across from you and shows your authenticity to help. Empathy allows you to respond appropriately and is typically is associated with the social behavior that builds trust with those we are attempting to connect with. Enthusiasm is key because it demonstrates the passion for your craft, your servitude toward others and typically the fun experience you will be able to create for the client/athlete who is front of you.
Our commitment to that person is to
- Connect through emotion; pain and pleasure
- Ask calibrated questions
- Organize what it is they are telling us they need
- Convert their fear into power and build a personal breakthrough together
- Ask for the sale
Cialdini, Robert PhD, Newborn George, et al., Influence- The Psychology of Persuasion. (2016), Harper Collins Publishing
Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia/iStock
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