Making Training Affordable to Everyone, Yet Profitable to the Club and Personal Trainer
The Dawn has Passed, a New Paradigm Emerges - Part 3
By: Phil Kaplan
"Sell a short-term affordable membership to pre-qualify an audience, and position the value of the offering in the Personal Training Orientation."
New Paradigm Marketing Overview
Here is an overview of new paradigm marketing: sell a short-term affordable membership to pre-qualify an audience, and position the value of the offering in the personal training orientation.
The short-term membership, with a link directly to training brings people across the bridge from "training land" to "salesperson." The salespeople have 'lay down deals', people already "influenced" by the trainers. This in itself creates a new respect for the trainers…at least in the eyes of salespeople.
Now I'll identify the "marketing universes" trainers can set their sites on in order to contribute to revenue generation:
The Active Member Universe
This is the marketing universe most accessible to trainers, the members who actually show up but haven't yet committed to training. With "The Power of Five" in motion among active members, with the proper influence strategy and a unified boasting of the virtues of the Orientation, the percentage of members connected to training can only increase.
The Inactive Member Universe
This is a marketing universe often neglected. Club managers "target" the inactives when their memberships are up for renewal, and at that point, in all honesty, it's too late!
They've been disappointed and jaded and will not see the value in re-connecting with a club that has let them down. Trainers can call way before the situation becomes hopeless, and best of all, they can position themselves as life preservers…rescuers.
The inactive members obviously aren't getting results, and with some training in telephone technique, trainers can offer the orientation as the missing element. This not only increases training revenue, but can also have a dramatically positive impact upon retention and renewal.
The Outside Universe
This includes neighbors, local businesses, corporations, and anyone who lives or works anywhere in or near the immediately club vicinity. By implementing a structured "outreach" program, where trainers (and salespeople) can go out into the community to attract new interest, every profit avenue is richly enhanced.
Unlike aggressive salespeople, trainers will not respond to the command, "go out there and get some people." They will, however, welcome with open arms structured promotions that allow them to "help people" outside of the four walls of the club.
We Can Now Make Training Affordable For Everyone!
The old paradigm, even with "packages" offering per-session price reduction, is limited in its potential audience. Affordability is an issue, and even if a session is as low as $30 with the purchase of "a 20-pack," many people still can't afford to fork over $600, especially after they've just paid for a membership.
With the "Series" approach in place, we can make personal training affordable for anyone by simply distancing the sessions apart based both on need and affordability.
Remember, we are positioning trainers, not as necessary workout supervisors, but as advisors. That means a trainer can meet with a client as infrequently as once a month, and since the trainer is paid for his or her time, the one-hour consult can serve as an educational and empowering session that carries the client forward until the next meeting 30-days later.
I'm going to stop here…to allow you to digest, re-read, and grasp the power of the New Paradigm. In the next segment I'll pick up right where I left off, explaining how the "bridge" works both ways. While in this piece I explained how promotions can be set up so the trainers feed membership sales, next time I'll explain how the salespeople can happily and productively build the pot of personal training gold.
"Remember, we are positioning trainers, not as necessary workout supervisors, but as advisors…"
I'll also address the "Acquired Traits" trainers must have in order for the system to become a self-driving machine. In order to operate within the parameters of the New Paradigm, trainers require a new type of training which I'll outline step by step.
Finally, I'll share marketing methodologies that work to feed all 3 methods of increasing profitability, more members, more $$ per member visit, and more "paid" visits per member.
The playing field is about to significantly change. The New Paradigm is soon to become an absolute for those seeking profitability and career longevity.
In a previous segment, I introduced "The New Paradigm." I presented a model for a health club that positions the trainers, the training staff, and the owner as profitable benefactors. The New Paradigm is the proverbial win-win-win-win.
One of the vital links I discussed was the "bridge" that runs from the training department to the sales entity. Trainers market internally and externally and they act as influencers for those who enter the club on a short-term trial promotion. The thrilled trial members and visitors, destined to become long-term clients, are then introduced to the salesperson for one simple task: to enroll.
Sales pitch? No such thing! Membership enrollment is a walk in the park. In order, however, for the "bridge" to remain balanced, traffic has to flow both ways. Not only will trainers feed salespeople but salespeople also have to send prospective clients across the murky waters from "Salesville" into "Trainer Land."
The salespeople are the champions of influence, thus, it would be criminal to prevent them from "selling" personal training. Give the job to the best-suited individual, and if the job is selling, shouldn't we have our top performers in the game, selling that which will generate long-term revenue and results? Of course we should, and it sounds great…but…as with all things that sound just a little too perfect, there are a couple of challenges.
The first can be summed up in a word. Trust, or lack thereof. The prospective member knows the salesperson is paid a commission, thus any "upsell" further raises the prospect's sales resistance. People have learned not to trust salespeople.
The second challenge is one of belief. While most "top" health club membership salespeople are adept at selling memberships, the industry has conditioned them to give training away, thus they tend to present trainers, not as "benefits," but as features. When a salesperson doesn't fully buy-in to the value of a product or service being offered, it's difficult to convey "benefits" with any hint of sincerity.
Typically, when it comes to "the trainers," salespeople explain their trainers are "certified," "caring," and "professional" (of course in many cases those claims are up for debate). The salespeople see the trainers as throw-ins, they present the trainers as they would a piece of furniture or an added decoration.
Sure, the words say something like "our great training staff," but words make up only 7% of face-to-face communication. Body language, voice inflections, eye contact, and speech patterns all clearly communicate doubt. The decision to commit to investing in a personal trainer is in great part an emotional response. While people tend to allow features to go in one ear and out the other, something else happens when they are compellingly presented with "benefits." They say "yes!"
So where does that leave us? We want the salesperson to sell the importance of training and lead every new member to connect with the training team, but we don't want to put the entirety of the "why you should invest in personal training" presentation in the hands of someone struggling to maintain credibility and convey sincerity.
Simply Sell the Orientation
I have the solution! The salesperson is trained to present the training entity as an indisputable benefit, although he or she does not have to drive the point home. With room for the prospect to question value, the salesperson simply sells "The Orientation," a simple savings, an opportunity to connect with a highly valued trainer risk-free!
Remember, the Orientation is a small group, and the trainer can earn up to $80 in a health club setting since 50% of the $20 fee (per attendee) goes to the trainer. The trainer, in that well-paid hour, can accumulate several new clients and add to the club's training revenues simply by doing what he or she does best. Building rapport.
In other words, if we can get the salespeople to get every new member to commit $20 to an Orientation (with a money back guarantee of satisfaction), the trainers are placed in an ideal setting to influence attendees without any sense of sales pressure.
The salespeople, just as they would be trained to present the importance of enrolling, would be trained to present the Orientation as an absolute must. They need some help in this regard. Firstly, they need a "feature" that allows them to drive home the benefits, and secondly they need a "line."
Let's start with the feature. Nobody wants to walk on a treadmill. Nobody wants a personal trainer. Nobody wants to sweat through heavy squats until their quads are burning. Why do people opt to walk on treadmills, retain personal trainers, and squat until they're ready to puke? Because they want an outcome.
If a bodybuilder is being toured through a health club and expresses that he wants to build his legs, the salesperson would certainly point out the leg equipment. Sure, it's a feature, but here the salesperson is comfortable linking the feature with a benefit. We need a feature the sales team can use consistently to link to the benefits of the "elite team of personal fitness professionals."
The "feature" is a wall. Some clubs call it their "wall of fame." It's a collection of before and after photos, inspirational stories, and testimonials, each one a feature clearly linked to a benefit. It's most effective when you have a variety of fitness goals and achievements, one covering each of the primary areas of concern. This allows the salesperson to do what he or she is comfortable with.
"Jackie, you told me you wanted to lose about forty pounds and that you'd been on every diet known to man. As soon as I heard that it reminded me of Lori. Here's her photo when she first came in for her assessment. If you read her story you'll find she was on just as many diets as you if not more. Here's the great news. She connected with Dana, a member of our elite team of fitness professionals, and Dana coached her and educated her so that she could move quickly to her goal. Look at the end result. She dropped 53 pounds and feels better than ever."
The picture, a feature, is clearly linked to a desired benefit, and of course the trainer is presented as the catalyst.
Then, Add "The Line"
Once the salesperson has the feature:benefit link down, once it becomes automatic, just as the presentation of the other elements of membership, you simply insert "the line."
While I shy away from scripts, salespeople learn by memorizing phrases. With time and experience those phrases take on a customization, but a part of every salesperson's development involved memorizing some power lines. Phrases that lead to action.
In this case the "line" must communicate two distinctive thoughts.
1. There is significant value in the trainer services
Here's the line:
2. You can save money, connect with an expert, and there isn't any risk
"Jackie, typically a session with one of our fitness professionals is $75, however, when you enroll today, I'll get you started for only $20, with an unconditional money back guarantee."
Let's jump inside Jackie's head for a moment. First we see the "I'm impressed, compelled, and intrigued" lights go on. That's the result of Jackie's eyes witnessing evidence. Jackie thinks, "wow, there's someone just like me who achieved precisely what I'm here to achieve." She then draws a mental line from the result she desires to Dana, the trainer presented as the catalyst. The message flashes boldly in Jackie's head: "The Trainer Can Help Me!"