Objection handling is the toughest part of selling. For many us, it can feel awkward, contrived, and confrontational. But it doesn’t need to be…
In this article – we share 3 simple rules for addressing objections when selling gym memberships and personal training (plus a handy script).
Despite what many ‘sales gurus’ in the fitness industry are still pedalling, high-pressure sales tactics are dead. In an age of authenticity, online research, and peer reviews, they simply aren’t effective. The demise of sales-obsessed fitness brands like California Fitness is proof that consumers no longer accept this old-fashioned approach – how we sell fitness needs to evolve.
Our approach to sales is a little different. We believe in selling with integrity, which means no sleazy sales tactics or high-pressured techniques. If you can really understand your potential client, and develop an offering that meets their needs, then it usually sells itself…
But what about when it doesn’t go that smoothly? What should we do when we’re met with comments like “It’s a bit too expensive” or “I don’t have time for that many sessions”?
These are phrases that trainers are often faced with, and can put us off our stride too. The key to successful selling is being prepared, and knowing how to respond in these situations. So here are our three rules for objection handling with integrity…
Objection Handling Rule #1 – Acknowledge Their Concern
If a potential client raises an objection, then the most important thing is to ACKNOWLEDGE their concern. Never try to dismiss their worries outright.
You might think you’re playing it down, but in their mind, they’ll feel like you’re not listening to them, or not taking them seriously. Any rapport you’ve established with them will be damaged, and the chances of them signing up with you will be significantly reduced.
They need to understand that what they’re thinking or feeling is totally valid. Even if you disagree with their point of view, or think it isn’t valid, you need to understand that THEY feel worried enough to raise it.
So the first step to objection handling with integrity is to acknowledge their concern. Summarise it back to them to demonstrate that you’re listening. Then tell a story about someone else who had a similar concern, and how you addressed it with them (the ‘Feel – Felt – Found’ method is really useful for this).
You might also like… Key Traits That Successful Personal Trainers Share.
Rule #2 – Don’t Try To Persuade Them
Yes, you read that right. Do NOT try to persuade them around to your point of view. It probably sounds like crazy objection handling advice… After all, selling is all about persuading people, right? It’s about convincing them to purchase what you’re offering…
Except it isn’t anymore. People have got wise to being sold to, and they hate it.
Real selling is about establishing a need that someone else has, and then explaining how you can fulfill that need. It’s not about sweet-talking people out of their hard-earned cash, or coercing them into spending money when they’re on the fence.
If someone has raised an objection, it’s because you either haven’t understood their needs correctly or haven’t communicated your solution effectively. There’s something missing, either in your analysis of what they need, or how you’ve explained it.
So 9 times out of 10 you’re not going to be able to persuade them around until you know what that crucial ‘missing’ thing is. You’ll be fighting a losing battle, and making the prospect more uncomfortable in the process. When faced with opposition, most people’s reaction is to fight harder or shut down.
“People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.”
~ Blaise Pascal ~
We don’t want prospective clients to do either of these things – we want to keep the dialogue open and friendly. So instead of trying to convince or persuade them, apply rule #3 instead…
Rule #3 – Treat Objections As Opportunities, Not Challenges
It’s easy to take objections as challenges. Trainers often tell us that overcoming objections is the most uncomfortable part of selling because it feels confrontational. But it doesn’t need to be.
We like to think of objections as opportunities. The person sitting in front of you could have simply said “no thank you” or “I don’t think it’s right for me” and walked away. But they didn’t…
Instead, they probably said something like “It’s pricier than I expected” or “I’m not sure I have time to commit to this many sessions”. These phrases are invitations to keep the conversation going, and opportunities to learn more about them.
So instead, try to understand why they’re raising the objection. Take the opportunity to do a little extra digging, and find out more. If they’re concerned about lack of time, then find out what the root of this is. What is taking up their time? Why are these things a priority? When exactly are they busy?
Understanding exactly what’s driving their objection, can not only help you devise a more appropriate solution but help you communicate it in a way that really resonates with them.
Objection handling with integrity is easy to do and involves zero awkwardness. Best of all, it focuses on understanding what’s holding your prospective client back, instead of trying to ‘beat’ them with persuasive points. It’s an approach that’s based on offering real value and creating a mutually beneficial partnership. Also known as a WIN/WIN 🙂
Selling Personal Training & Addressing Objections
There are lots of different techniques for handling objections… Some are designed to overcome objections about price, and others are intended to persuade people who lack time.
But our absolute favourite is one that’s versatile enough to address any objection that clients come up with. And it’s called the Feel-Felt-Found method.
This approach acknowledges a client’s concern, and then uses the power of stories to provide a solution. So when someone says that the price is too high or they don’t have enough time, here’s a script that you can use…
“I understand how you feel. I’ve had other clients who felt the same way in the beginning, and were concerned about (time/price/other objection). But actually what they found was that… (insert success story)”.
This is where success stories and fitness testimonials are especially useful. You can use them to demonstrate how other people have overcome a similar situation. People find stories about others much more persuasive, so it’s a great tactic to use when selling personal training.
Here’s a practical example of how you can use this technique to address objections around price:
“I understand how you feel, I’ve had other clients who felt the same way in the beginning and were concerned about the initial investment. But actually what they found was that because they were following the meal plans and training regularly, they didn’t want to undo their efforts by eating takeaways. So the money they saved on their Friday night pizza and beer sessions, more than paid for the training itself.“
Sell Personal Training With Confidence
So, now you have an effective technique for addressing objections, that’ll help you close more sales and get more clients! If you’re interested in brushing up on your PT sales skills, then you may find our online course useful. It covers all aspects of selling with integrity, from identifying your ideal client to handling objections with more example scripts around time, commitment, and cost.
Like most skills, selling personal training is one that can be learned and developed over time. Although the idea of sales makes some people uncomfortable, it’s something that’s essential for a successful PT business.