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Winning at Membership Sales: Hoping for Success vs. Planning for Success

membership sales

“Control your controllables.” This is the advice I often give to facilities when they ask me why they continue to miss their membership sales goals. It should go without saying that having the right staff, the right script, the right marketing, etc, all have enormous impacts on outcomes — but usually I find the plan itself is flawed. Or even worse there is no plan at all, just hope.

I have reviewed quite a few membership sales plans over the last 20-plus years. Universally, I find two commonalities present:

  1. A clear understanding of who we want to serve.
  2. A monthly sales goal to hit to operate profitably.

Where things tend to go off the rails is with what lies in between those two things. Often there is no actual plan on how to bridge our “why we exist” with our “desired financial outcomes.” There is always a lot of strategy talk about opportunities in the market or what our unique value proposition is, but very little practical application on how to get there. These are the facilities that often time fail to meet their own expectations.

To make it simpler to discuss what a successful roadmap looks like, let’s break a membership sales plan down into three basic phases. If phase one is, “Who do we want to serve?” and phase three is “reliable streams of revenue,” then phase two is the “blueprint of sales success.”

To keep it simple, let’s use a monthly new unit sales goal of 100 memberships. The first thing we need to do is to work this math backwards.

Our Membership Sales Plan

  • Facility monthly sales goal: 100 memberships.
    • For 100 sales, the facility needs to generate 145 tours (expecting 70 percent to join).
    • To generate 145 tours, we will need 250 appointments (roughly 60 percent will show).
    • To generate 250 appointments in 30 days, we need four things to happen:
      • 80 appointments from referrals (400 referrals need to be generated as only 20 percent will show for a pass).
        • FUN FACT: 91 percent of people say they will give you referrals when asked if they like your business. Only 11 percent of our sales teams ever ask.
      • 80 appointments from Inquires, follow-up calls, past members, etc. (Dialing the phone 800 times, we should expect to get 10 percent to commit to an appointment from these combined efforts).
      • 50 appointments from our marketing efforts (social media, SEO, print, etc.).
      • 40 walk-ins.

Sounds like a lot, right? It is until we divide it up over a team of four people over a month.

  • Facility monthly sales goal: 400 referrals / 800 dials / 250 total appointments / 145 tours / 100 memberships

Breaks down into…

  • Monthly accountables per salesperson: 100 referrals / 200 dials / 62 appointments / 36 tours / 25 sales

Continuing to break this down into daily goals, based on 20 working days at 8 hours per day, we get:

  • Daily accountables per salesperson: 5 referrals / 10 dials / 3 appointments scheduled / 2 tours / 1.25 sales a day (in an eight-hour work day!)

That is certainly a reasonable expectation of a membership counselor’s workday. The next question you should be asking is, “What do I expect for them to do the other six hours of their work day?” Let’s save that for another day.

Many things will ultimately affect whether your facility will be able to flourish. But by measuring, monitoring and managing the things you can control, you will have set your center up with a solid plan for sales success.


Jason R. Stowell is the division director of fitness and wellness for JCC of Greater Pittsburgh. He is an award-winning fitness leader with over 20 years of successful experience providing strategic planning, talent management, and expert-level sales training in the health and fitness industry. Connect with him on Linkedin here

Jason R. Stowell

Jason R. Stowell is recognized as one of the highest-grossing sales performers over the last 25 years in the health and wellness industry. As an award-winning leader, Jason provides strategic planning, talent management and expert-level sales training through his Empowered Fitness Sales System workshops and industry-leading sales presentations at conferences internationally. Connect with him now on LinkedIn here

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