Personal training is a sales business first. Everything else comes after the sale. In fact, the majority of business models mandate that a sale be made before a certified personal trainer can even have a client. This means that regardless of what certification a person has, until they’ve created a sale, they’re not even a personal trainer – because they’re not training anybody. As one colleague once said, “they’re just a dude with a certification.” You caught it – so did I – you could say “they’re just a (enter pronoun) with a certification.” No matter how you say it, this situation is no bueno. While there is no doubt that personal training is a sales business there is no need to stress or to overthink the process. In fact, after having personally managed and mentored hundreds of fitness professionals I can tell you that most new personal trainers overthink a lot of the business and they definitely tend to make the sales part harder than it needs to be.
We could go on and on about selling personal training but, in the end here are the nuts and bolts of the matter before we get into some great books to enhance personal training sales.
First – Be a Cool Person to be Around
I know, I know – this sounds weird. But, it’s true. If you’re easily offended, if you don’t recognize basic social cues and if you’re moody, untimely and don’t have a dynamic and energetic personality you’re going to struggle. I always tell new trainers this. “If the prospective client wouldn’t want to hang out with you over coffee or a beer, they’re probably not going to want to train with you for very long.” Being cool is a qualitative thing to be sure, but somehow, we all know what I mean. Don’t be an asshole. Be accepting of others and don’t be argumentative with people regardless of their perspectives. Making it easy to be around you makes it easier for people to want to invest their time and money with you.
Second – Be Honest and Have a Great Motivational Interview Process
PTA Global is one of the best I’ve seen at educating their personal trainers in the finer aspects of motivational interviewing. You can’t just give someone an “equipment orientation” and expect them to invest in working with you. You have to really get into the “why” for them being there at that time and place. What is it they’re really wanting to attain? Is it really all about losing 20 pounds or are they feeling vulnerable as they age? Maybe they’re feeling less secure in their relationship and want to feel attractive again. Or, perhaps they’re just fed up with being dissatisfied with some aspect of their life and decided that working out will make them feel better. Whatever it is, it’s important to discover that so you can help them see the value in hiring you to guide their process.
Third – Don’t Try to Sell, Try to Help People
“Hey Nancy, great to see you! Look, my client can’t make it and I have the next hour free. How about I take you and your friend through a new training system I’m working on for an upcoming program?”
“John, how’s it going? Every time I see you you’re going hard and heavy, I love seeing that. You’re just the type of person I like working with. I’d love to get your feedback on a couple workouts I’m putting together. Would you be interested in letting me train you a couple days next week just to see what you think of them?”
These kinds of interactions make working with you easy and allow people to “try your training out” and of course, if you’re good, you’ll wow them and they’ll want more. It’s very compelling for a person to feel and experience the elevation in workout quality when they train with a great trainer for the first time. They’ll want more of it. People always want more of a good thing so training with you is a no-brainer for those you’ve shown your worth to. Often, they’ll ask you how they can start training with you. But, if they don’t all you have to do is congratulate them on their effort and invite them to consider working with you – they’ll do it.
Last – Read, Learn and Never Stop Refining Your Approach
Reading is one of the best ways to gain new knowledge and “drill down” into concepts you’re already familiar with. I recommend reading about things you already have some understanding of so that you can “scaffold” or build on your prior learning. Trying to read, and retain something that is completely new to you is very hard to do with any level of proficiency. Always allow one step to lead you to the next when learning instead of jumping all over the place trying to learn totally new concepts if you have no “knowledge bridge” to reach them. Also, it is important that I note that I tend to advise against personal training sales books because most of them have a one-way-fits-all approach and I don’t like that. I’ve never read a book written specifically for personal training sales that applied directly to the business I was operating. This is why I like higher quality, sales strategy and sales tactic books that create salespeople regardless of the field you work in. This allows personal trainers to develop universally relevant sales skills that will apply to their careers regardless of what they do or where they work.
That leads me to my updated book list for personal training sales. These are the three best books for personal training sales that I recommend at this point in history.
Best Sales Method for Modern Sales – Gap Selling
Best Sales Philosophy Book – Little Red Book of Sales
Best Overall Selling Book – The Lost Art of Closing Sales
Short and sweet – and really damn good! This list of three rock-solid sales books is as good as they come for the individual sections I’ve placed them in. I love reading them and then working back through the high points while mentally role playing with imaginary prospective clients to see how I can make these book’s concepts my own and smooth them out so that I never come across as “salesy”, but rather maintain my reputation as a top-notch fitness professional while ensuing my integrity is in tact by creating sales that allow me to help people create winning solutions for the challenges in their lives.
I wish you all the best my friends.