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3 Ways to Never Prospect Again

by Meaghan posted April 24, 2017

As our second semester Master Course students get underway with their internships, the dreaded challenge of “prospecting” in the commercial gym setting is starting to surface as usual.


(Note: For those new or outside of the personal training industry, the term “prospecting” refers to approaching and conversing with members working out on the gym floor in attempt to turn them into clients.)

That said, I thought I’d offer some tips to reduce the amount of time one has to spend on this less-than comfortable part of being a personal trainer in a club – because in my 12+ years as a practicing personal trainer, I’ve hardly ever had to “prospect.” Granted, this is in large part because the majority of my time in the industry has been spent at a company that provides the clients, and I stopped taking on new clients a good 7-something years ago… BUT, prior to that, I spent ample time in both the commercial gym and private sectors building a clientele without every really having to prospect or “sell” in the traditional sense. Here’s how:

1. I talked to people. Not on the gym floor so as to interrupt their workouts, but in the lobby and in the locker room. And not about exercise, but just through general conversation starters like, “Hi (insert NAME), how are you?,” followed by active listening strategies (follow up questions, etc.). The next time I saw said person, I would ask about what we had discussed or refer back to a previous interaction to show that I remembered and cared enough to follow up. And I ALWAYS ALWAYS called him/her by  name. This goes such a long way in terms of building rapport. (Read more HERE.)

It also didn’t hurt that I started my gym work at the front desk and got to meet and greet people that way as they swiped their membership cards and their names popped up on a computer screen… If you’re thinking about being a trainer, in addition to gaining some knowledge and experience, starting at the front desk is a good way to get to know both the business AND the members! And if you’re only interning and can’t really take on paying clients yet, there’s really no pressure in casual conversation either.

2. I learned how to explain programs. I think this is really the most important point here. Once you get good at assessing people and really understanding exercise prescription, and can effectively relay the value of your services to people, the “hard” sell becomes quite easy. In fact, the selling aspect all but disappears as the conversation shifts toward strategically highlighting your knowledge and ability to address the prospective client’s wants and needs. (More on that HERE.)

3. I made friends with my co-workers. This is actually a good idea anyway but, depending on the dynamics of where you work, it can also be a good business strategy. If co-workers leave the company, they may have some say in who takes on their clients (assuming they don’t take them along with them…). Having been a friendly and humble young trainer who tried to get along with everyone, departing trainers often left their clients to me. Again, no prospecting required.

Bottom line: No trainer really likes to prospect, and no member really to be prospected either. It can feel awkward and even sleezy. But if we get better at these casual interactions, we take the hard sell out and make life easier in the process.


Filed under: tips for trainers

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