No one likes selling...
I hate it.
I'm sure you hate it too.
That's one of the many nice things about being a pharmacist. I don't have to sell my services. Physicians and drug companies do it for me. Patients literally walk into my door looking for help.
However, the gym is different. It requires selling. No one says, "Hey, I'd love to spend 6 hours per week sweating, getting sore, and not seeing results for 3 months. Here's my money."
So if you're looking to open a gym, you have to sell.
The way I see it, you have three options:
1. You can hire a salesperson.
2. You can learn all you can about selling and either do it yourself or create a system your employees can use to sell memberships.
3. You can think outside the box and find an alternative to selling.
Here's what I did....
I couldn't afford option 1. No good salesperson will be satisfied with selling $30 gym memberships. The commissions are too low. Even if I gave her 50% of the membership, it's still not enticing enough. An inside or outside sales rep just doesn't work in the hometown gym model. We haven't had any luck in our high-end studio model either, and those memberships range from $100-300 per month.
I initially settled on option number 2. Although I personally had no interest in selling, I dug my heels into the ground and started learning everything I could about sales so I could create a system my employees could use to sell gym memberships. I read everything I could from Grant Cardone, I bought sales systems from Bedros, and purchased loads and loads of books on sales from Amazon.com (My favorite being SPIN Selling. It was highly recommended by Tim Ferriss.)
Over the course of several years and dozens of tests, we ended up settling on a very simple, generic script based on the information from SPIN Selling. All of the fancy sales systems and elaborate phone/email scripts ended up testing no better than a sincere hello, eye contact, and a, "What brings you in today?", which then further led to a discussion on their goals and whether we had the right solution. The entire script was very conversational and unrehearsed. It had a small town, mom and pop feel.
However, it didn't take long before we started noticing that the majority of our new members required very little, if any, selling when they came to visit the gym for the first time. They were coming in as prequalified leads and were ready to sign the paperwork after a quick hello. Most didn't even want a tour of the gym.
How did we get so lucky?
As much as I'd love to say it was designed to happen, we kind of stumbled upon our "no sales" sales system, option #3.
I firmly believe (and have tested) that you have to do very little selling if you do these two things really well:
1. Create an awesome customer experience.
I'll delve more into this a later blog post where I'll discuss our Ageless' badges, our challenges, and our random gifts. For now, I highly suggest you read Never Lose a Customer Again.
An awesome experience = an awesome word of mouth campaign = no need to sell because your members will be doing it for you.
2. Create a marketing system that focuses on the customer.
We accomplish this via two avenues:
A. Our Help or Hope Marketing Philosophy
I'm a huge fan of content marketing. With the internet at everyone's fingertips, no matter where they are and the ease at which things can be spread on social media, a great piece of content can extend far beyond your imagination. And if you take Ramit Sethi's advice and give away 99% of your content for free, the likelihood of creating a piece of viral content exponentially increases.
Obviously, the content needs to be focused on your members and potential members. "Look at me" pieces get very little traction and after a while becomes annoying. To avoid sounding like an egotistical maniac, we always ask ourselves two questions when creating a piece of content that we post on social media or put on our website:
1.HELP - Does it offer help to our members or potential members? Does it help them solve a problem they have? After reading it, did the reader get a practical piece of advice or a solution?
2. HOPE - Does it inspire our members or potential members? After reading it, are they more motivated or do they feel better? Can they see themselves in the content?
If you get a yes for either of those questions, hit the publish button. You're more likely to get potential readers to prequalify themselves after a really good piece of help or hope content, and as a result, have to do very little selling when they walk through your gym doors.
B. Turning Members into Superstars
Again, set your ego aside and put the spotlight on your members, not you. For the first 5 years Ageless was open, very little people knew I was the sole owner. They knew I had something to do with it, but didn't know I actually owned 100% of it. Ageless was essentially its own entity, and because of that, members took ownership of it. Our members often referred to it as "my gym," and if you can get members to feel like they're owners, the beauty of a word of mouth campaign comes to full fruition.
Having a member of the month program, celebrating challenge winners, showcasing member accomplishments inside and outside of the gym, using a member as a case study, etc. are all opportunities to turn your members into superstars.
Here's an example of a member of the month article we wrote.
Here an example of using a member as a case study.
The more superstars your gym has, the less selling you have to do because everyone wants to be famous. And if a potential member can see themselves in one of your superstars, she'll sign up without the need for a sales pitch.
So, to paraphrase my ramblings, if you dislike selling as much as I do, focus on your members and they'll do the selling for you.