5 Tips On How To Sell Pilates
(to even the most skeptical clients)
Author: Seran Glanfield, NCPT, PMA Board of Directors
Are you wondering how you can get more new clients through the door of your studio and onto your schedule?
If so, you're not alone. Most Pilates teachers struggle with this from time to time in their careers. And selling can often feel uncomfortable - not everyone is a natural salesperson! And that’s ok, because when it comes to selling Pilates, we have more than one chance to get new clients to commit.
You probably already know that selling your services starts long before a new client hands over their credit card. Selling begins with what your client learns about you before they walk through the door. That is - what they find out about you online or from their friends.
If they came across your business online, perhaps via Google or social media, they will likely be taken to your website to find out more. And unfortunately, this is where we often see the first mistake when it comes to selling. Most businesses talk too much about themselves and not enough about how they can help their clients.
Or, we might see the second biggest mistake - confusing potential clients with insider talk or irrelevant information.
These are very easy mistakes to make especially since we create our marketing materials with all of the Pilates knowledge we have, and we want to share that with the world! In fact, it's so common that it’s got a name - The Curse of Knowledge - where you, the expert, project your knowledge onto your clients assuming they know more than they do. You are already trying to keep your message straightforward and simple, but if your knowledge is at 10, you're probably bringing it down to an 8 on the scale. The reality is, your average new client is probably closer to a 3.
Here’s the thing - if you are leaving it up to the potential client to figure out how you can help them, it’s likely you will lose them before they even pick up the phone.
Research has shown that people don’t always buy the best, they buy what they understand.
To get potential clients interested and inspired to take action and visit, get crystal clear about what you help your clients achieve and the impact you make. Make no assumptions about their existing knowledge of Pilates! Let’s face it, there are so many misconceptions out there about what Pilates is that it's easy for potential clients to get confused. Keep it simple, relevant and inspiring!
Selling your services is a process, so once you have enticed that new client in the door with an exceptional website, it’s time to show them what you’re all about.
This is your opportunity to guide them on a path toward becoming a long-term loyal client. And while you (hopefully) have a defined sales process in place, (more on that later), this first conversation is your chance to simultaneously get to know your client while impressing them with an incredible client experience.
What is the best way to start this conversation? A friendly smile and a desire to help!
This first session is when you really get to know your client and find out why they’re there and what they are looking for. It’s your opportunity to play detective. Don’t skip over this part. During that first session, you'll be trying to understand what your new client needs physically, but there is so much more you can learn about your client.
FACT: 80% of buying decisions are based on how a client feels.
Understand and love your clients!
The big secret to selling successfully is understanding the needs, hesitations, frustrations and fears of your clients.
Remember the curse of knowledge? It’s easy to forget how intimidating it can be for new clients when they walk into your studio. Seeing the equipment can be enough to make them feel more than a little nervous!
Expect your client to feel overwhelmed but interested! Step into the role of being their guide who leads them toward their goals. If you take the time to really learn about your client, you are better equipped to help. Let your client know you have a plan for them and that it’s normal to feel intimidated in the beginning (and that feeling will soon pass!).
This is also a great time to address some FAQs - even if they don’t ask. These frequently asked questions usually include being concerned about their ability to complete the exercises, how often they should come, what they should wear. It can also include where to park and where the water cooler is! If your client does share specific goals, tell them how you plan to help them and describe how they will feel once they get there.
Now’s when you have to truly believe in what you do, in the power of your teaching and the results you know your clients can achieve. Know, without a doubt, that your services bring amazing benefits to your clients and students. Doing so will take away the feeling of selling just to sell. Remember - you are making an impact that will improve their quality of life!
Even if you hit it off during that session, on average 50% of first time clients still won’t come back. But the good news is that there are many things you can do to get this number closer to 80-90%. How can you keep more new clients?
Having an “intro package” is a great way to get your new client to commit to more than one class or session. Your intro package should be priced to incentivize more visits (do not be concerned about the profit margin - this is about getting your client to become a long-term client.) It should include enough sessions to give your new client the opportunity to experience and enjoy what you have to offer. Data has shown that if your client visits your studio four times, they are 35% more likely to become a loyal client than not. If you can get them though the door six times, then there’s a 50% chance they become a loyal long-term client.
For the duration of those 4-6 sessions, you are in full “selling” mode! (Yes - selling IS a process!)
Have a plan for your clients and a recommendation for what they should purchase.
Remember, you know what is best for your client. You know how often they need to visit to get the results they are looking for. Just like you don’t hold back cueing to “scoop the abdominals” during spine stretch forward, be sure to make a recommendation to your client on what they should purchase! Successful selling is about more than just a single sales pitch. It's a process that can (and should) span many weeks. Your sales process is all about guiding your client on their “journey” through your business from newbie to long-term loyal client.
One thing that’s critical to keeping your client on the right path is making it as easy as possible for them to move step by step along that path. Nurture that relationship in the early days. The personal touch can make all the difference. It can make a big difference to follow up after their first session with a phone call (yes, it will probably go to voicemail and that’s ok) or send a text.
Nurture your new (and existing) clients.
Sometimes it pays to take a moment to stand in your client's shoes and think about their experience inside your business:
- How easy is it to find your studio?
- How easy is it to book a session?
- When signing up for a class or session - what happens? Is there a reminder email or text? What does it say?
- How easy is it to make a decision about what package or service to buy?
- When clients arrive for their first session - what happens? Who is there to greet them?
- What happens at the end of that first session? What do they remember as they walk out the door?
- As you stand in their shoes, is the experience how you thought it would be?
- Is it what you want for your clients?
- What is missing?
- Is there an opportunity to improve?
- How can you make the entire experience (not only those 55 minutes of their workout) totally and utterly exceptional?
Once you have thought about how you want your business to be perceived by your new clients, what you want them to know, think and feel, you have the foundations of a sales process… and that process runs smoothly if you can plan it out step by step.
Turn your sales process into a well-oiled machine!
Getting a system in place to keep new clients is one of the most crucial things you can do to make sales easy and stress-free. Using some of the tips and ideas in this article, you can create a system that works for you.
As an example, your sales process could include:
- having a great “intro offer” that is highlighted on the very first page of your website, that is priced to incentivize multiple visits.
- having a standard welcome procedure that involves completing the usual waivers, but also a studio tour, information about your class times, introducing the new client to at least one other teacher and sharing other relevant information via a brochure or postcard they can take home with them
- having a follow up process that includes a phone call, a text message or an email (ideally all 3!)
- having a script or prompts for your front desk to make sure all your key sales points are covered
- having a recommended package option that you can introduce as they finish their intro offer
- having top-rate client service (always!)
Finally, everyone on your team should follow the sales process and know why your clients should choose your studio. It really pays to take the time to train your staff on basic sales skills and share with them the various pricing options so that they too can participate in this process. Consider documenting this process and using it as part of your on-boarding training for new teachers and instructors.
Remember - having your teachers and instructors be knowledgeable about your business is fundamental to successful sales AND a successful business long term.
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