Picture a salesman.
What does he look like? Bad suit? Hair slicked back?
Does his office have a big “Always Be Closing” poster in it?
Is he trying to trick you?
That’s the image most of us carry around when it’s time to accept money for our services. Many gym owners would coach people for free if they could, and they squirm when they have to ask for money. So they give discounts to wriggle out of their responsibility, or they “forget” to ask people to pay. I’m guilty–or I was, until I better understood the lesson I’m about to share.
Want to listen to a podcast about this instead? Here’s Episode 75: Why You Suck At Sales.
First, the left-brain (logical) stuff:
- If you own a business, sales is your job.
- Your landlord won’t give you a discount if you don’t sell
- All the Facebook ads in the world won’t help you if you can’t say, “How do you want to pay?”
Now, the right-brain (emotional) stuff:
- Your job as coach is to tell people what they need to do
- Your job as parent is to feed your kids
- The best thing you can do for your clients is to get them off “maybe”.
You probably know all that stuff, but if you don’t, you can stop reading now and go sell. But knowledge of what you SHOULD do is never the full answer; knowing how and why, and being held accountable–that’s how you change your behavior. That’s what a mentor is for.
Let me share this story about my new co-manager at the gym, Jamie.
Jamie helps people find the perfect car.
He loves his job. So he does both gym management and car matching.
Last Wednesday, he came to the Workshop for lunch. He showed up in a new white truck.
He said, “I was thinking about our conversation on Monday. You told me you were juggling the kids every Wednesday, and couldn’t fit their friends in your truck because it was too small.”
He knows I volunteer to coach two hockey teams, with one of my kids on each, and Wednesday nights are nuts: two practices an hour apart, with an hour drive between them, and little friends asking for rides along the way.
Then he said, “I brought this over for you. Take it home tonight. Put the kids and their friends in it and take them to hockey practice. Leave your little truck at the dealership and pick it up tomorrow.”
We’re friends. I knew I could use the truck, take it back in the morning, and drive away in my own truck. But I also knew that probably wasn’t going to happen.
Greg Strauch, one of the mentors at Two-Brain, was visiting from New Mexico. Even he probably knew I was buying that truck.
I took the truck home. We piled the kids in. We drove through a snowstorm, and I barely noticed. The kids played air guitar to the Rolling Stones in the backseat, banging their empty Gatorade bottles on the armrests when the drum solos came on. I dropped two kids at our house and took my daughter to her game. We made it on time, and I didn’t have to fight her hockey bag out of the tiny back seat.
When I returned the truck, I brought Jamie a coffee and he said, “Do you want to keep it?”
I said, “Definitely. I love it!” and he slid the paperwork across the desk. I signed without asking for a discount and paid with the gym’s debit card.
Does every one of Jamie’s clients pay with a debit card? No–in fact, 95% can’t do that. But he has a way for them to pay over time; he’s solved the money problem for them too.
Did Jamie sell me? Absolutely. I was thinking about buying a larger truck in September. He just got me off “maybe” by solving my problem (too many kids, too little time, too much gear, no room in my 3-year-old truck.)
I took the kids skiing on the weekend. I’ve already put 2000km on it in a week. And I gave my old truck to my niece and nephew, who are 18 and 16.
I’m REALLY glad I bought that truck. I thanked Jamie again this morning.
Last week, I was getting suited up for hockey practice when a parent stuck her head into the dressing room.
“You think Catalyst would help my son?” she asked. “He’s big for his age, but he’s soooo uncoordinated.”
I said, “Tell you what: bring him tomorrow at 4:30. I’ll meet you at the gym and introduce you to the coach.”
They signed up for Varsity.
A new guy booked a NSI online. I told him he had the same name as my great-grandfather. He asked me to close the office door, and told me about his job: it’s kind of an undercover thing. I asked, “What do you do on a stakeout?” because I was genuinely interested to know.
He told me, “I listen to audiobooks.”
We started comparing our Audible lists. He hadn’t read Jordan Peterson’s new book yet, so I said, “What’s your email address? I’ll buy it for you right now.” And then I did.
He said, “Are we going to talk about exercise?”
I answered, “We don’t have to. I think you’re a perfect fit for my gym. You want to take a walk around?”
He said, “Nah. How do I pay?”
When he left he said, “I was afraid this was going to be a sales pitch.”
A friend in noon group mentioned that my name was getting brought up in his office a lot.
“You coached my coworker’s kid last year. He says he really misses you behind the bench this year. He’s glad to see you when you go watch his games.”
I said, “I’d love to see your coworker in this group with us. Wouldn’t we have a great time?”
He invited his friend. I said, “Troy, it’s fantastic to have you here. You’re going to love this group, and they’re going to love you.”
Troy said, “My whole office thinks I’m nuts.”
I said, “Let’s show them. Bring them in Friday night. I’ll bring some beer. We’ll flip that big tire out back.”
He said, “Make it coffee. I’ll bring them at 8am. Get the tire warmed up for us.”
Yesterday, a new client asked if he could bring his friend to try a class. I said, “sure. There’s nothing to be scared of here. Tomorrow’s a partner workout. I’ll be his partner.”
The client said, “He doesn’t speak English very well.”
I said, “Me neither. Get him in here.”
We finished the workout, and we came last. My new friend said, “We finish last. But we are the most-looking team.” I said, “You should come back tomorrow. We’ll win next time.”
He said, “Okay. Where I pay?” So I walked him into my office and told him about the new Incubator program.
I’m not sure if any of these sound like sales pitches to you, but they felt like “welcome home” to me.
For more, read Jeff Burlingame’s excellent post, “5 Tips To Not Suck At Sales“.