Does it sometimes feel like sales is going to be the death of you? You probably have an amazing concept in your head and you want to deliver it to many people, but the problem is getting enough clients so that you can make enough money to live comfortably in order to devote time and energy to your big picture goals. That’s why sales is so important. And we know it can be painful—presenting a financial amount to a stranger in exchange for your services isn’t exactly easy for all of us.
Why can’t people just walk up to you and say, “Hey! I love your online presence, I love the way you move, and you look amazing. I want to work with you and I don’t care how much it costs.” Wouldn’t that be awesome? But that’s not the way the world works unfortunately.
First of all, make sure you’re charging enough. Too many trainers get themselves into trouble by exclusively charging a bargain amount. Do this, and you’ll never transition your client into paying a premium price.
Now let’s talk about getting new clients. What’s your issue, exactly? Building a lead funnel, selling clients, and building a book of business clients is more than just meeting people who want to do pushups in front of you while you watch. A funnel is its own living, breathing element. I realize this term gets thrown out at trainers and coaches all the time. You may understand what it is in theory, but asking you to fix your funnel without giving you the tools to do so is a real dick move, in my opinion.
Below are three ways (each with three subset tips) that you can improve and fix your funnel today to get more clients. Please note this may or may not result in an immediate impact—but it could if you play your cards right. It’s up to you. Either way, be patient with the process.
Are You Having a Hard Time Getting Leads?
Maybe you’re great once you get a client to start working with you. They stay forever and love your work. However, the problem might be getting a stream of enough potential clients to grow your business and finally get past the five-client hump. Here are three ways to get more leads.
1. Join a new community
Most coaches notice that while their friends and family ask for their advice about health and fitness, that doesn’t mean they’re going to purchase sessions from you. Relying on your personal network to build your training business is a foolish choice. You need to meet new people to continually expand your reach.
Join a group of people that fits your interests. If you’re not into sports, don’t go hang out with a bunch of sports folk and expect to connect with them. Be authentic. Go be the fitness person in a community you take interest in, where you can be the expert and start building a network of new people.
Here are some great options: Try joining an intramural sports league, a new volunteer group, a meditation community, some dance classes, a photography class, etc. The options are endless! While I understand that not everyone has the same social bandwidth and time to do so many things, that’s OK. Start with one thing. One meetup. One event.
I know it sounds far fetched that meeting more people will magically get you more clients. But I ask you this. How often do you get asked the following question when you meet someone new: “What do you do?”
2. Hang out with your clients and all your groups of friends
If you have an existing set of clientele who has been with you for a while and loves training with you, start hanging out with them outside of the gym, because they probably talk about you all the time anyway and brag to their friends about you. So when you show up to their birthday party, everyone will recognize you as that beloved trainer that kicks their friend’s ass.
When clients invite you to things, go. Show up. Whatever event you’re going to attend is one of the most target-rich environments you can ever find yourself in.
Outside of your clientele base, each person in your life represents a spider web or network of other people. Just because you may not do business with that particular person doesn’t mean they won’t introduce you to someone new who will be interested in your services. Invest some time in your social life to hang out with the people you know so you can meet their friends and coworkers. Tap into all your groups of friends. Create a happy hour event, invite them over for dinner, etc. Be social with the people you already know.
3. Refine your story
Maybe you meet plenty of people but you just aren’t able to get them to come in for a session. This could mean your story doesn’t market you well enough and doesn’t inspire people enough to want to work with you. Perhaps it’s unclear as to what you do, who you work with or how you can help them.
Start working on your personal story. Yes, your clients are purchasing a product, but even more than that, they’re hiring you because they’re inspired by who you are, your physique, your accomplishments, etc. Don’t underestimate how much feeling goes into their decision.
Start with a journal. Don’t worry about how it sounds. Nobody else is going to see this, it’s purely for you. Set a timer for 10 minutes and just write. Write down everything that comes into your head. If you don’t know where to start, try answering these questions: Why are you a trainer? How did you get here? What makes you different from the millions of other coaches out there? Who do you help? Why should people work with you?
Read what you wrote. Reflect on it. Keep reworking that story until you have one that you are proud to tell someone. Practice in front of a camera or in front of a mirror so you can weave it into a conversation in a way that’s engaging and inspiring
It’s not that you need to lead with your heavy “why” story with every conversation, but knowing it so well that you can bring it into a conversation fluidly is the ultimate way to be good at sales without having to be “salesy”. Remember, as a trainer, selling yourself is selling your services. Nobody wants to pay money to work with someone they don’t like or don’t enjoy being around.
Do Your Leads Ghost You?
We’ve all been in this situation before: Leads are reaching out, DM’ing you, emailing you, commenting on your social media about how much they need you, and maybe even texting you. Then all of a sudden, they’re not communicating and they just disappear. Let’s break it down.
1. Set up a step that allows them to get to know you without having to commit to working with you
The scariest step for most people is walking through the door. Let’s assess. What is your intake process? From the minute a lead contacts you, what is your system for getting them to you give you money and start working with you? How many times do you have to contact a lead before they respond? How many times do you have to contact a lead before they actually come in?
Some people are just flaky, and to be honest, it’s not worth your time trying to chase down all the people who are flaky with their fitness habits. You need to focus on getting people who are ready to start.
Maybe as a warm-up fluff job, you send a welcome text or email to every lead you get. Use a Calendly link to schedule a time to call or chat with you. That allows them to control when they meet with you. This is much less intimidating than a cold call where you surprisingly get in touch with them.
2. Send a video that is unlisted on YouTube
Create an introduction video of yourself. This can be as simple as a video of yourself talking about your services—all filmed from your phone. It just needs to be a simple “who are you” video that includes some testimonials and before-and-after pictures. Be so inspiring with your story that people want to jump on board and be a part of your team in the future.
Don’t overwhelm them with a million texts or a really long email. Instead, make this first interaction short, easy, low effort, but very easy to complete. Do not make it hard for people to spend money with you.
3. Set up a newsletter
Provide a low barrier way for people to stay in touch with you without having to commit to anything yet. A daily, weekly, or monthly newsletter is a great way to keep adding value to a lead and inching them closer to working with you without having to badger them with text and direct emails. While social media is great, just because someone follows you doesn’t guarantee that they will see your content.
Start by planning 12 months of newsletters first. Write about one thing each month that you think your audience wants to hear about. Offer value; educate. Also include what you’re doing personally and professionally, what certifications you’re taking, what new methods of training you’re experimenting with, etc. Don’t forget to highlight your clients who are currently kicking ass.
At the bottom of each newsletter, make it easy for them to set up a consult with you. If this newsletter is going out to current customers and potential customers, use an email management system like Mailchimp to split your lists of customers and non-customers.
Are You Losing Them After Your Consult or Introductory Session?
Maybe people are coming in and people are getting put on your schedule, but you just aren’t able to get them to say yes. They even said they loved the session and they want to sign up. They just find a reason to not say yes.
1. You’re not presenting the sale
I know this sounds obvious, but there will be people who you’ll present training to and even though they love you, they’ll see themselves as a lost cause who isn’t good enough for your level or skill of training.
Do not let these clients feel discouraged. Let them know that you would love the opportunity to help them along their journey, and that there is no wrong place to start. Present the sale in a way that they can relate to. Tell them a story of how you started—because we all started at square one. Even the best of the best didn’t come out of their mother’s womb doing pull-ups and sled pushes. Give them a piece of personal history or share a current client’s story. Present them with a package they can understand and be inspired by.
2. You’re not presenting a solution that matches their needs.
Your client doesn’t want to get bulky but you know weight training is going to be the best solution for them. If you get too caught up in the details of weightlifting—progressive overload, mechanical stress, speed-strength continuum, their FMS score—they are going to look at you with blank eyes and probably daydream. That boredom could cause them to leave you.
Do you think your client cares about these kind of intricacies? No, they do not. They want the solution that will finally help them change their relationship with health and fitness, and learn the foundations of proper movement, while also having fun and staying lean.
Present the programming to them in a way that will match their goals, their needs, and their language. If you get too complicated and make it sound out of reach or out of alignment with their goals, they’ll walk away.
3. You’re talking to your client like they are a trainer.
Your clients know deadlifting is a functional exercise, but they don’t want to hear about all the details of deadlifting as if you’re at some kind of conference. If Grandma Betty’s goal is to keep playing with her grandkids at the ripe age of 89, then we are going to use hinging patterns and exercises like the deadlift to help keep her legs and back strong so she can keep giving piggyback rides to her grandchildren. But Grandma Betty doesn’t need to hear about the posterior chain in enormous detail—or else she will lose the focus on her goals.
Don’t overload your clients with too much information. They want to know what they’re doing and why, but they don’t need to know about the specific science behind each and every move. Presenting too much complicated information might actually cause a disconnect between you and your client.
Are Your Clients Not Re-Purchasing a Package Continuously?
Are your clients one and done? Hit it and quit it? This will happen from time to time. Sometimes people just want to do a few sessions, practice some technique or learn something new for fun, but it’s not financially feasible to keep doing it continuously. Or they might just lose interest. Although these clients exist, they are the exception, not the rule. Chances are, if customers do business with you once and never again, there is something broken in their experience.
1. Your product doesn’t meet your message.
Maybe your message is all about fitness for everyone, but the program you built was not fun, they didn’t see the value, and it didn’t seem worth the money. This is a hard pill to swallow, but it’s important to recognize these moments. Believe it or not, while you may love doing super cool crazy circuits, Grandpa Jim may not be ready for burpee deadlift ladders. While he might do them with you, the entire time he feels scared he’s going to get hurt, he’s not feeling like this is what’s best for him, and he doesn’t feel you gave him the skills to be confident in his technique.
While you might have an affinity for the barbell and strength training, not everybody is ready for a barbell on their backs. Not that it can’t be an option or something that becomes a journey they embark on, but today it might be better to use some suspension rings. Meet people where they’re at, plain and simple. Your message should be that you’re there to offer unique programming that’s specific to each client’s needs. You’re not going to accomplish that if you’re not reading the situation correctly.
2. You didn’t act like you gave a shit.
The entire time you were training that person you were on your phone, eating, sitting and just pointing at exercises. You weren’t coaching, you weren’t providing an experience that deemed worthy of your price. Nobody would find this pleasant.
You might be surprised to hear that people like to spend money, and price is only a factor of value. The challenge is ensuring that your client values the experience of working with you more than the price it costs to work with you. It doesn’t matter how much money he or she makes; if it’s important to them, they will find a way to make it work financially. If you’re worth it, they will work with you.
So give them your full attention. Personally, I hate to see coaches sitting. Take a knee if you don’t want to stand awkwardly while you’re a client is moving, but sitting on a box looks lazy and unprofessional. Also, get good at small talk. I get that the gift of gab is a blessed skill and not everyone can do it fluidly, but you have to be somewhat enjoyable to spend an hour with.
3. You didn’t build a future into your programming.
If all you gave your client was a bunch of heart-pumping ass-kicking workouts, but no journey to work towards, that’s no different than all the other times they have been high on fitness in a random group bootcamp class.
Create a path for clients to keep wanting to work with you. This is where programming and talking shop can start coming into play. Include your clients in the process. Tell them why you chose a certain movement, why you think it applies to their goals. Then start forecasting. While I understand that not everyone is going to focus on maximal load with their clients, you do need a progressive and systematic way to progress your clients. That might mean more reps, more weight, slower tempo, faster tempo, longer durations, more force etc. That is the art of training.
With a clear idea of how you progress, you can now forecast a collective future to your client they didn’t even know was possible.
The Final Word
While all of these may not be areas of need for you to focus on, I hope that I was able to share some ways as to how you can get more clients. First, we need to identify where the leak in our funnel is; from there, we can start working towards fixing that piece of the funnel. Then we can start building new pieces or improving new pieces.
This will never be perfect. You will never be done refining this process. What works for your business today will not be what works for your business forever. You will always keep building, refining, and fixing. That is the game you signed up for. Don’t worry about being perfect, worry about getting started.