Hard selling is a sales tool that many membership sales people resort to using. According to Jason Linse, the president and founder of The Business of Fitness, this can be unfortunate for two reasons.
“One, it is hard to train and keep employees who you require to sell this way,” said Linse. “Two, if a prospect doesn’t buy, he or she will almost certainly never come back. And the ones that do buy are unlikely to refer friends, family or co-workers.”
Linse explained that hard selling involves trying to make a sale without considering what the prospect wants or needs. The prospect may feel pressured to join, without having their concerns addressed. “It often involves a drop close and handling multiple objections,” he said.
Why is hard selling still prevalent despite the downsides? “It is easier,” said Linse. “You can shortcut the sales process and cut to the chase. [For] example, a membership salesperson can cut a 30-minute tour down to five or 10 minutes and use a hard sell approach at the sales table.”
According to Linse, this approach can be especially off-putting to about 50 percent of the population.
As a result, instead of hard selling Linse suggested sales people qualify prospects properly and build the value of a membership, which can be much more effective. To do so, he suggested staff use the “what,” “why” and “how” approach, asking the prospect: “What are your goals?”, “Why are those goals important to you?” and “How do you plan to reach those goals?”
“Then focus on the benefits of all features,” continued Linse. “If you can do that and get them to talk more than you, you will have more fun when selling and make more sales the right way.”
Having a specific sales system in place can help prevent staff from resorting to the hard sell in order to close a sale, leading to fewer complaints. “Train staff to follow a simple system and a specific price presentation,” said Linse. “Hard sellers will yield complaints from prospects and members.”
Although hard selling is easy, it is a tool that often alienates a large majority of prospects. Instead, have your sales staff focus on what they do best — qualifying prospects and explaining the many benefits of a membership at your facility.
By Rachel Zabonick