The core of your personal trainer sales approach should be three-prong: Enthusiasm, Rapport, and Time. First, believe in what you’re selling and let your passion for the product shine through. I’ve said it time and time again, but the difference between a trainer making $30 an hour and a trainer making $100 an hour is only confidence. You want to know your core programs inside-and-out and be comfortable with speaking about what you do. Practice in front of the mirror or the video camera as long as it takes. Attend industry events and get used to the concept of “selling yourself.” Ultimately, that’s what you’re selling.

Next, you want to establish good rapport with your prospects. This is where relationship building comes in. You want to know everything you can possibly know about your prospects. You want to know where they work, where they play, how old their kids are, and what brands they like. The more you know about your prospects, the better you can connect with them. Many trainers just want to do their thing and not think about sales because it makes them uncomfortable. Forget every salesman stereotype you know! Nothing is worse than a sales robot! If people can see the human side of you, they’ll instinctively like you… and want to give you their money.

Lastly, your approach requires time. No one likes to feel rushed or slighted. Even if you feel a prospect is unlikely to sign up, treat every person like your BEST client. You may be surprised at how many people sign up later or refer friends and family because you made a good first impression. When you lay your head down on the pillow at night, at least you will be able to say you did your absolute best, treated people with kindness and respect, and put your best foot forward.

It’s important that your fitness sales pitch does not come across desperate. Try to think of yourself as someone who is facilitating a solution for your prospect. A middle-aged woman comes in and wants to start exercising again and lose a few pounds. The desire is already there. You just have to find an affordable, low-barrier program that fits her needs. Instead of yammering on about benefits and features like you’re reading the sales page of your website, you want to ask a lot of questions. Find out exactly what this prospect is hoping to achieve, what the prospect has had in the past, and figure out what you can offer that works to make these goals a reality.

Personal trainer sales all boils down to psychology and why people choose to buy. People buy based on perceived needs, not perceived features. So you can’t say, “Hey, we offer state-of-the-art machines, 10 experienced certified personal trainers, and an outdoor boot camp” and expect to close a sale. Instead, you have to look at the underlying unhappiness that brings each prospect to you. Deep down, this individual is struggling to stay motivated, needing to lose 10 or more pounds, suffering from lethargy or loneliness, wanting to drop cholesterol numbers, or wishing to lead a healthier lifestyle. These people want to feel good again. They want attention.

There are several questions you can ask a person to get down to the nitty-gritty. For example, if someone comes into your office and says, “I want to try your boot camp to see if it can help me lose fat,” you respond by asking, “Tell me why would you like to lose some fat?” or “What do you hope to achieve by losing fat?”

Another good strategy can be borrowed from “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” Patti Stanger. One of the first questions she asks the millionaires on her show is, “Why love now?” This question is important because most people have struggled on and off with committing to a fitness program. So get your prospect to think about the consequences and reflect upon why NOW is the right time. Far too often people get caught up in the excitement of the moment, but aren’t really committed. Make sure your people understand the difference between wanting to look better and being focused on achieving that goal. Qualifying is an important part of the sales process too. You want people who are going to work hard. These people are usually your best referral-generators every time. If you want a stronger, better base of clients, you need to start off by setting expectations and raise the bar.

I never recommend negotiating on price in your sales negotiations. You can throw in more value in your program, but for heaven’s sake, don’t ever shrink down in price. There is always a cheaper trainer. People are coming to you because you’re the best. If you negotiate on price today, it will undermine your confidence tomorrow. Instead, you want to build the expectation that your clients are already getting a steal. You want them to feel like they get special attention, friendship, information and perks that they would never get elsewhere. A good training studio should be like a country club. People wouldn’t dare complain about their $20 filet mignons because they love the ambiance, the service and the elitism of being part of that particular social status.

This is not to say you don’t want to run a good, seasoned promotion to drum up your personal trainer sales now and again. We’re seemingly running promos all the time, but in reality, we are not dipping below what we know we’re worth. None of my trainers make less than $100 an hour, end of story. Maybe that means you nix the one-on-one training and transition to more group boot camp style training. Maybe that means to usher people in through a low-barrier program and give them the option for more exclusive personal training later. Crunch your numbers and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not worth it.

Keep in mind that some people will shop solely on the basis of price, but let those prospects slip through your fingers and go to those with less experience. You want to find people who value personal trainers as a very important part of their lives. Think of it this way: would you sign up with the cheapest back surgeon or dentist? No! So why should you settle for the cheapest trainer? Let those bargain shoppers filter out, so you’re left with people that are 100 percent focused, show up on time, make every appointment, and possess positive attitudes.