“Hi, tell me about your gym!” she said. She had just walked in off the street—but our street didn’t have foot traffic. She’d driven across town, found us despite the poor signage and boldly walked up to the front desk.
I was desperate for new clients. But still, I had no idea what to say.
“Well, we’re a CrossFit gym,” I started. “Have you heard of CrossFit?”
“Just heard of it. How does it work?” she asked.
I went into the description of “constantly varied functional movement” and so on.
She looked at her watch. I was losing her.
“Sorry,” I said. “I’m the world’s worst salesman.”
“Well, sell me.” She replied. “I don’t have much time.”
I told her about classes and gave her the rates. Miraculously, she signed up. I was surprised: My usual “sales pitch” took almost an hour and didn’t always result in a new membership. My “short form” bullets of price and schedule were actually successful.
It was my first inkling that maybe my normal “sales pitch” wasn’t the best.
The Hard Truth About the Gym Business
Looking back over the years and data now, I can see that my fear of “sales” might have been the biggest barrier to entry to my gym. I thought I had to convince skeptics with facts and data. What I really had to do was say, “Here’s how I can solve your problem for you.”
When you’re trying to convince someone to do something, you’re selling.
Selling gets a bad reputation because it’s a tool often used for evil. When we think of a “salesperson,” we sometimes think of someone dishonest: a man or woman who wants to trick us. We think of a one-sided deal: a lemon that’s going to break down as soon as we leave the parking lot. We think of a character we don’t want to play: the poorly dressed shyster who’s going to leave town as soon as we write the check.
But if you’re trying to convince someone to join your church, you’re selling belief.
If you’re trying to convince someone to stop doing drugs, you’re selling sobriety.
If you’re trying to change someone’s life through diet and exercise, you have to sell fitness.
The uncomfortable truth in business is this:
If you can’t sell them, you can’t save them.
All that money spent on Facebook advertising? It’s a total waste if you can’t convince them to sign up. Only Zuckerberg benefits.
All that time spent researching advertising, listening to podcasts and even going to gymnastics clinics? A waste of time if you can’t get someone to pay you for your service. Sorry.
All the technical expertise in the world won’t help your business if they won’t pay you for it.
Maybe you should get good at this part.
Maybe you should spend one-tenth as much time learning how to convince people as you do learning how to teach the clean.
Maybe you should get more reps in growing your business and fewer reps in the butterfly pull-up (or arguing about the butterfly pull-up in Facebook groups).
Maybe you should spend twice as much time selling as you do advertising (or, as we teach, 20 times).
Maybe you didn’t think about this when you opened a gym. It’s time to think about it now. Because the stuff that makes you a good coach doesn’t really make you a good business owner. If you’re not training your sales process, the biggest barrier to entry in your gym is you.
We teach the sales process step by step in the Incubator. Then, in Growth Phase, you can have our sales specialist, Jeff Burlingame, train you and your staff to be even better.