Sales and salesmen: Nobody likes them.
But face it, if you own a gym, you’re in sales. Getting your coaches to sell, though, is another story.
Time and time again, I have heard affiliate owners say: “My coaches can’t sell. I’m the only one who brings people into the gym.”
As a CrossFit coach, I, too, remember despising sales when I worked for GoodLife Fitness in London, Ontario, and we were sent to essentially loiter outside of grocery stores, forced to bombard people as they entered the store, and expected to cold call half-ass sales leads. One time, my boss even sent me to a dentist’s office to gather a forgotten signature on a contract so she could hit her target for the month.
At the time, I was 22 years old and getting paid $12 an hour and my particular gym didn’t have me on any kind of sales commission. I was selling a $10-bi-weekly gym membership and a 20-minute “fit fix” instruction. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the value our clients were getting, and there was no incentive for me to do anything but stand outside Loblaw’s grocery stores pretending to talk to people as they walked by me and into the store.
That all changed when I moved to Vancouver and started working at CrossFit Vancouver—a gym that pays their coaches 100% based on commission. Suddenly, if I didn’t learn how to sell, my paycheque would be $0.
More than 6 years have passed, and I can say I now really enjoy the process of bringing a new client into the gym, and yes, SELLING them personal training and monthly memberships.
Three things I have grown to enjoy, and even get excited about, when it comes to picking up a new client:
1. Getting to know my clients, connecting with them about what’s going on in their lives, becoming friends and watching—and actually playing a hands-on role—in their journey to greater fitness, health, and ultimately happiness.
2. Perhaps more selfishly, when someone drops $1,200 to $1,500 on personal training, I feel almost honoured that they developed enough trust and confidence in me to invest that kind of money in a fitness coach. It then puts pressure on me to make sure I’m doing all that I can to help them become as fit as possible—including continually learning and educating myself—and all that I can to retain them as clients for life.
3. I like money. I do. And I’m not going to apologize for that. So when a new client purchases 15 personal training sessions for $1,200-plus, or pays $2,000 up front for a year membership, and I earn 50% to 60% of that, I breathe a happy breath. It’s fun and satisfying to make money. And it’s fun when there’s no ceiling on your earnings the way there is when you’re getting paid by the hour or on salary.
So back to the original statement: When I hear affiliate owners say, “My coaches can’t sell. I’m the only one who brings people into the gym,” I tend to be less sympathetic than they might hope.
“What’s in it for them?” I ask. “What do they get for bringing people into the gym? And for working on client retention strategies?”
Three Questions for the affiliate owner:
1. Are your coaches getting paid by the hour?
2. If they bring a new client in, are they rewarded for it?
3. What are they doing for client retention?
If the answer to the first two questions was “no,” and the third question was “nothing,” then why would they bother to try to figure out how to bring anyone into the gym, or how to generate additional revenue for your affiliate? Why would they bother to even TRY to enjoy sales?
I know when I worked for GoodLife, I was a lacklustre employee, who resisted with all my heart to put myself in an uncomfortable position where I might feel like a sleazy salesperson. But once my livelihood started to depend on it in Vancouver, I started looking at the idea of sales a whole lot differently. And the result is that I care about—and help—my affiliate and my clients WAY more (and as a bonus make way more money) in what is essentially a sink-or-swim commission-based environment than I would if I were making $30 an hour acting as a cheerleader during “Cindy.”
Just some food for thought.