Close the Sale the First Time

Q. How can I close more sales on a prospect’s first visit? – David Perlmutter, CEO of Powerhouse Gym, San Jacinto, Calif.
A. Over the past few decades, sales people in health clubs have used some very questionable methods for closing a membership sale. You’ve heard the stories; prospects get brought into an office, the door is closed and the negotiations and intimidation begin. Something you thought was used a decade or two ago is still being used today.

Or, perhaps the always popular “drop closing,” where a salesperson attempts to overcome a prospect’s objections and concerns by dropping the price until they finally sign up for a three year membership. Or, a takeover, where a sales person starts the sale, then sends in “The Closer.” Or my favorite: “Here is your free trial pass, but, if you trade it in I will waive your $299 enrollment fee and drop your monthly dues from $59 per month all the way down to $19 per month. But you have to do it today. Come back tomorrow and the deal will be gone!”

This is classless and no longer believable with the educated audience we deal with today.

An Easier Way to Close More Sales on the First Visit

People love free stuff! Knowing this, you should incorporate an incentive-based close into your sales process. I prefer a multitiered incentive close.

Before the tour of the facility begins, smile and let your guest know that you have a surprise for them following the tour. This plants the seed in their head to let them know they will be offered something.

Once you have finished the tour, you will give your price presentation. After presenting membership options, the conversation would go something like this:

“Okay, so here is the surprise I promised. You told me that you liked everything about the club. If you know you’re planning to become a part of our club and want to make that decision today, you can have everything on this list.”

At that point you will show them a list of incentives that they receive for joining that day. It can include anything you want. Typical items would include:

  • Half off enrollment fee
  • First month free
  • 2 free personal training sessions
  • A free month of tanning
  • A free 15-minute massage
  • Free bottle of water every visit during their first month
  • A t-shirt with your club’s logo
  • 20% off their first pro shop purchase
  • A free smoothie
  • 5 two-week passes for their friends

Place a dollar value on the package (i.e. $300) and put it at the top of the page. The trick is to not be aggressive. Let them know that all of the items are theirs if they decide to join today. If they ask what happens if they don’t join today, make sure they understand that you still want them to receive some of the benefits. If they still need to think about it, they will still receive any two things from the list.

Of course, you will ask them one more time: “Now you’re sure you don’t just want all of this stuff right? You’ll kick yourself when you join before the week is up!”

If they don’t join the day they visit, it’s okay. There are a lot of thinkers out there, and many lost sales are due solely to ineffective follow up. Just make sure you have a system to remain in contact with missed guests. That includes phone calls, letter mailings and e-mails. Monitor to make sure the trial members are using the club during their trial period.

Typically, when this closing method is implemented correctly, you will sign up around 50-70 percent of guests on their first visit and you will sign up around half of the remaining missed guests during their trial period.

Obviously there are many factors that affect these percentages — for example, if you do not take care of your facility, if your salesperson’s appearance is unprofessional or if you do not have the equipment or environment your guest is seeking. But, all in all, this method works in all health clubs of all sizes and styles. Try it today and you will immediately begin closing more sales. -CS

Curtis Mock is the host of business, the TV show for fitness entrepreneurs and is the executive director of GymSuccess .com. Curtis can be reached via e-mail at

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