Putting your finger to the pulse of any successful health club, you’ll find the driving force is high member utilization of classes, personal training sessions and other services. Very rarely do members stumble across these services on their own. Members are sold on them.
Behind every good health club is a good sales staff. It sounds obvious, but it’s true. “The more successful your sales team is, the more successful your business is,” said Mike Kennedy, the vice president of sales and fitness at EOS Fitness.
But in today’s increasingly digital society, selling health club memberships in person can be a challenge.
“The reality is this thing called ‘health and fitness’ is medieval,” said Kennedy. “There aren’t too many things anymore where you have to do physical work to get something — everything is a push of a button away these days. So, we’re asking everyone who comes into our facilities to do something they’re not comfortable doing and don’t want to do.”
Simply put, salespeople are often the difference-maker in the popularity and usage of many club services.
Attracting the best sales talent, in a way, can be a domino effect. The better your sales team performs, the more top talent will want to come work for you.
“The cool thing about the fitness industry is it’s really more a matter of developing the salespeople you have,” said Kennedy. “To do that, you must have the ability to train and develop your team, and have key players who are willing to execute the play. Once your team starts seeing success with the play, it’s basically a trickle effect. You start getting better talent, because you have a track record of success.”
However, turnover is natural in any workplace. Therefore, it’s important to provide incentives for salespeople to stay, even if other offers come rolling in.
The best place to start is making sure your salespeople are in the best position to succeed. A great work environment, culture, camaraderie and supportive sales software are essential to success. And of course, the ability to make money helps.
“You want to put them in a position where they’re consistently able to make an income and help people with extra services [beyond membership dues],” said Kennedy. “Having the ability to help sell supplements, nutrition, personal training and small group training — those are all just revenue streams that assist the sales person and member.”
Another way to encourage your sales staff to stick around is by offering good benefits. According to Kennedy, these include — but aren’t limited to — health insurance, bonuses and free memberships for friends and family.
And of course, you have to offer a competitive base salary or hourly wage that shows how much your salespeople are worth and demonstrates your commitment to them.
But the most important factor at play here, and the one that supersedes every other factor, is whether or not your sales staff feel appreciated. “The most valuable thing is making sure the salespeople are feeling respected, welcomed and like they’re a really important part of the club — which they are,” added Kennedy. “Without the sales team, your business normally goes away.”
Having a stellar sales team will pay huge dividends for your health club. The best sales teams are the ones that truly believe in what they’re selling and buy into the club’s mission.
“Anyone can be taught how to sell, they really can,” said Kennedy. “But if you really want to cultivate a good sales team, they need to understand the importance of what they’re selling. We’re selling health and fitness, which only does one thing — betters people’s lives.”
This sense of purpose will help drive the enthusiasm of your sales team. That enthusiasm will spill over to the members they interact with, as well. And, it will make a real difference for your gym.
“If you have a good sales culture and you have good sales systems, you’ll normally be successful, if not always,” said Kennedy. “When you have an all-star sales team, that really is the difference between doing good and doing great.”