How to Sell Gym Memberships: Stop Pitching, Start Listening

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sell without sellingThere are a lot of common misconceptions about sales (pick your favorite: sales people are slimy, sales is a cutthroat position at most companies, etc.) and chances are, you own a fitness business because of your passion for fitness and desire to help people better their lives – not to sell memberships, appointments or classes. However, if you want your business to thrive and if you want to engage in the lives of more and more people, you will have to sell. Please don’t shoot the messenger.

So with that in mind, I want to dispel one very common misconception: You do not need to develop some slick, airtight, “close ‘em every time” pitch. In fact, you shouldn’t be pitching at all. The way you’ll truly become successful selling your services is by not selling, but rather, by listening.

Download our webinar, Sell Without Selling, for advice on how to soften and perfect your pitch.

This is not a gimmick. Pitching puts people on the defensive – they don’t want to be sold, asking questions draws people in – they want to buy. In listening to and asking questions of your prospects, you get to the personal aspects of their fitness goals. You much more quickly gain a greater level of comfort with each prospect and show that you will partner with them and invest in their success, however they define it. And you have to get personal to get new members who will stick.

Let me share an example of how it usually goes:

The prospect: “I want to lose weight.”

You: “That’s great! We have these classes and these trainers and these services and these programs!!!”

Holy smokes! Slow. Down.

  • Why does that person want to lose weight?
  • How much weight do they want to lose?
  • If they lost the weight, what would they be able to do that they feel they cannot do now?
  • Are they limited in some way right now?
  • What is their experience with weight loss in the past?
  • What is their experience as an athlete?
  • What do they feel will be the biggest challenge they will face?avoid sales pitches

See where I’m going here? Most people hear a familiar problem and start pitching the solution they’re comfortable pitching before actually learning anything about the individual they’re speaking with. They go into sell mode and that is a major turnoff.

Instead, spend time learning how to have great conversations and train your staff on how to best interact with your prospects. Give your staff members examples of the questions they should be asking, and perhaps most importantly: Role play these conversations with your staff members so you can all hone your skills.

Most of all, ask great questions, listen to the responses, and toss your pitch in that box of CDs that’s sitting in your attic.


If you’re interested in softening your sales pitch to sell more memberships, check out our webinar, How to Sell More Memberships Without Selling.

gym membership sales webinar

Phil Stern

Phil Stern, Director of Sales
Zen Planner

Phil Stern is in his second stint living in Colorado and keeps getting drawn back to the state as an avid mountain biker, skier and climber. When not in the mountains or on the trails, he’s training at his local CrossFit® box. Professionally, Phil came to Zen Planner from a big software company based in Boston and currently serves at Zen Planner’s Director of Sales.

0 responses to “How to Sell Gym Memberships: Stop Pitching, Start Listening”

  1. Michele Miller says:

    When is your next webinar?

  2. Tiffany Houkom says:

    Hi Michele! We don’t have an exact date yet, but in the meantime, please visit our Resource Library: https://zenplanner.com/resources/. We have several pre-recorded webinars on everything from goal setting to member retention.

  3. Alicia says:

    Hello. I was womdering. When a gym sales person signs you up for a trial membership do they include their phone number on the slip because they want to be the ones who get you to buy a membership?

  4. […] the presence of a receptive prospect for your services, the first thing you need to do is to listen; don’t project your reasoning and needs onto them. By far, the majority of people will have a […]

  5. Big Luis says:

    Good stuff! I def agree that it builds value. People like talking about themselves. Helps them loosen up and get comfortable, and gives them an open mind. The more personal you get involved in their lives, the easier it is to sell to the possible prospect. Listening is the key.

  6. Jon says:

    Thank you for this information. I needed to hear it. I have fallen into the “perfect sales pitch” rut, when I used to not do that. I am making this change starting TODAY! It is much appreciated.

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