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Sales: Why You Should Lead with Your Highest Valued Membership Option


Very few people enjoy being in any type of sales role. That’s because it has been hard-wired into our brains to fear rejection. A bazillion years ago, rejection meant being tossed out of the cave and left alone to die. Once you get to the “ask” in the sales process, most of us get a little squeamish inside. Kind of takes you back to high school when you slid that note across the table to your crush. The one that read, “Do you like me? Circle yes or no.” Comfort and confidence in sales are generally won through experience.

Most newer sales staff and even the majority of your seasoned veterans still will never really shake that fear of rejection. Couple that fear with a manager who is looking over their shoulder to see if they “closed” the deal, and what we will get is an army of membership consultants leading with the least expensive options first. Only after they finally get that initial buy-in from the prospective member do they then attempt to upsell additional opportunities. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Let me start by telling you that there isn’t merely one killer tactic to close more deals. It’s the culmination of hundreds of tiny positive outcome-influencing efforts that create sales success. There are some tips, however, that are more influencing than others. One of the best I can give you is to lead with the membership option that offers the highest value first. This will also generally be your most expensive option, as it will include many perks.

The simplest way to increase sales of your top membership experience is to reframe your perception of your center’s membership options. Most facilities offer several packages with the least expensive being considered the base level membership option. Instead, you need to flip that script. Start selling your top membership package as the base option and not as an upgrade of the least expensive. This approach has a few significant benefits.

First, let’s start with how you can begin to do this effectively.

  1. Assumptive pitch all potential tours on the elite package from the start. Why wouldn’t they want the best experience?
  2. If you believe in the tremendous value of the best membership package, the prospective member will too.
  3. Only if/when you receive an objection to the price of this option, do you offer an alternative less costly membership package as a special consideration to their needs. This helps to ensure they are not feeling that you are trying to squeeze every last dime out of them.

Here is the second reason why this approach works so great. Instead of trying to upsell from a less expensive option, you now have the opportunity to demonstrate you are willing to work with them to find an option that does fit their budget.

Let’s role play the “ask” in this scenario.

“Jason, if you do not mind following me back to the office, I will show how easy it is to get started with us today. So to recap Jason, you will receive unlimited access to our cardio deck, weight room, aerobic classes, racquetball, swimming pool, towel service, hot tubs and discounts to the vast majority of our events throughout the year! Our most popular membership plan has a one-time initiation fee of $199 and only $89 a month for 12 months. We also offer a complimentary 1-hour personal training orientation session to our new members. After we get you set up today, can you tell me when the next time is you are coming in to workout, so I can check our trainer’s availability?”

A general rule of thumb in all sales fields is that after you pitch your rates, stop talking. Always wait for the potential member to speak first. Most likely, they are talking themselves into signing up today.

The prospective member will respond with either a, “I am coming back on…” in which case you know you have sold the membership or they will give you an objection. Assuming that objection is money, we now address it by saying:

“Well Jason, this is by far our most popular option because it includes all of our amenities at no additional cost. But let me ask you this, can you live without towel service? And you said earlier that you probably would not be taking aerobic classes right? If it means earning your business today, I can take these things out for you and discount your monthly fee XX so that we can at least get you started today. At a later date, if you would like, you can upgrade your membership. How does that sound?”

More often than not, it sounds pretty good to them.

By executing on the plan above, I am confident at the end of the day, you will be outperforming the vast majority of the membership counselors in our field. The question now is, are you brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and risk being tossed out of that cave?

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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