The Power of the Follow Up
Many years ago I went through some intense sales training. A consultant came to my gym and worked with us for three days in a row, every month, for six months. This sales training laid the foundation for all of my success in this industry, up to and especially including what I do now, which is basically the same thing that this consultant did with our gym all of those years ago.
“It seems that you get two types of membership salespeople: Those who are good at first visit closing, and those that are good at following up.”
The consultant said those words based on her experiences in the 90s and the early 2000s. It is my opinion, with the many changes in the industry over the past several years, combined with the increased competition, that a gym is better off with a good follow-upper than a strong first-visit closer.
Hard selling is a turn off. It’s hard to train on and hard to keep staff to stay if forced to consistently go beyond their comfort zone. Trial memberships can be very effective, and I always recommend a 30-day paid trial. Most mainstream clubs should charge 30 days for $19.00, that typically charge $40.00 to $50.00 for a single simple access membership.
So, measure your closing percentage, NOT on first visit, but within 30 days of the first visit. Your benchmark is 65 percent within 30 days — 30 percent to 40 percent will be on the first visit, and the remaining 25 percent to 35 percent will be within 30 days. But in order to get the highest number possible to continue past their trial membership, you will need consistent and proper follow up.
I recommend an eight-step follow-up process. The eight steps involve a series of phone calls, emails and letters. Simple, easy and very necessary.
Okay, so you have your trial membership follow-up system implemented and working well. What happens after 30 days, for the prospects who don’t join? How often do you follow up with them? What do you say?
Email and call each prospect twice per month for two months. For example, let’s say Joe completed his 30 day trial on January 30th, and even though you performed the eight step trial follow up, he has not committed. Email him around January 31st and then call him the next day. Repeat every couple of weeks for two months until he says yes or no. These emails are personal, and not a group email. Exceptions: Joe responds to an email and says he is interested but not for three months because of travel.
After the first two months, email one time per month indefinitely. This is a generic group email. Now, on these emails, the goal is to maintain contact, but also to motivate the prospect to make a decision to become healthier by joining your gym. You don’t want to simply pump out an email with an offer. Remember, most of these folks tried your gym for 30 days, so they know the prices for longer term memberships. Use these emails to inspire. This does require someone on staff with the ability to write a few encouraging words.
Focus on salespeople who will put the time into proper follow up, use a system, stay consistent, and you will start to see prospects come back from months ago. Oh, and be sure to ask for email addresses from telephone inquiries. “Joe, can I get your email address to recap this phone call and to send you some information about our club?”
Keep changing lives.
Jason Linse is president and founder of The Business of Fitness, a consulting company. He also owns a personality assessment company called People Plus+ Fitness. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 612-310-1319. Visit www.jasonlinse.com.