10 Steps to Better Complimentary Sessions


Congratulations! You’ve done the hard part of chatting with that new member in the gym, learning about their training goals, and successfully persuading them to meet with you for a complimentary personal training session.

Don’t get too excited yet though. Booking a complimentary session with your prospect is only half the battle when trying to bring them on as a new client.

Your focus must now pivot to giving them an amazing experience which will blow their socks off and position you and your training as the solution to their fitness goals.

Most of the clients I’ve had throughout my career started training with me after a complimentary session. Through trial and error, I’ve learnt some valuable lessons on what to and, most importantly, what not to do.

Here are 10 ways to improve the quality of your complimentary sessions, which will lead to a more enjoyable experience for your prospect and, ultimately, more paying clients for you.

1. Don’t make prospects do the things they hate

Before kicking-off a complimentary session with a prospect, make sure to ask them what exercises they don’t feel comfortable with or that cause them pain.

This might sound trivial, but trust me here, making a prospect do an exercise that makes them feel self-conscious or hurts their joints is the simplest way of throwing your chances of signing them up down the toilet.

At this point, it doesn’t matter why they don’t like an exercise. If they tell you they hate running, don’t make them run. If they say that lunges hurt their knees, don’t make them do lunges. Put your biases aside and pick another exercise that achieves the same outcome.

If they come on as a client, then you can ease them into the movements they may need, but don’t quite like. The important thing is to build some trust and get them over the line first.

2. Focus in on their goals

We all know that prospects can sometimes have unrealistic goals, such as losing large amounts of weight practically within minutes or attempting to transform their body into something that resembles The Incredible Hulk without committing more than one day a week to working out.

I know how you feel, but I implore you to bite your lip. You don’t want to disappoint your prospect by giving them a harsh dose of reality just yet. Focus on getting them started in the direction of their goals. Once there’s some buy-in and they commit to a training program with you, then you can gently begin to mould their goals and expectations.

3. Features tell but benefits sell

Make a consistent effort throughout your complimentary session to connect your training to the prospect’s specific underlying motives for being interested in training.

For example, if your prospect wants to lose weight, don’t just explain that training with you will help them lose weight. Go further by explaining the deeper benefits of losing weight, such as better sleep, improved energy, healthier joints and how their friends are going to be blown away by the transformation.

4. Give 100%… then add a bit more

If there was ever an opportunity to put an extra 1% into your session, this is it. Think outside the box here though. Putting in an extra 1% doesn’t necessarily mean pushing your prospect by giving them an extra hard work out.

According to marketing guru Bernadette Jiwa, delivering value can come from surprising places. Listening with a little more empathy, explaining exercises with more clarity and being clearer in demonstrating the specific benefits of your training are all creative ways of adding additional value.

5. Don’t jump the gun

Don’t think ahead. Be in the moment, with 100% of your focus on giving your prospect a great experience. Once you finish your session, then you can pivot your thinking towards the next step, which is nailing the sale.

6. Be hands-on

This is your opportunity to demonstrate your skills as a coach. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to give your prospect tactile cues on how to setup properly for a deadlift or how to retract their shoulder blades when doing a TRX row. Your prospect probably hasn’t had this kind of hands-on style of coaching before, so it can add huge value to your session.

Remember: always use proper discretion when making physical contact. Not all clients like to be touched, and that’s okay. Be considerate of your client’s personal space and even consider asking them for permission before you touch them (e.g., “Is it okay if I touch your back to show you how to do this exercise?”). Watch their body language for signs of discomfort and be sure to pull back if needed.

Touch can be a relationship-builder, but it can also be a relationship-ender if you aren’t reading the signals right.

7. Add value between sets

Rest breaks between sets are an excellent opportunity to add additional value by coaching your prospect on nutrition and lifestyle modifications that will move them closer towards their goal. This also allows you to demonstrate that training with you is not just about what you do together in the gym.

This might sound obvious, but many people don’t necessarily understand what personal trainers do or can help with, so be sure to make this clear to your prospect.

8. Don’t suffer from verbal diarrhea

Speaking too much in an attempt to impress your prospect is an easy trap to fall into. The problem with this is that overloading your prospect with information only leads to confusion—and confused prospects don’t buy.

Here are three communication tips to keep in mind:

  1. Meet your prospect where they at by only explaining things that pertain to their goals in that moment, and no more.

  2. Keep your coaching cues clear and succinct. Also, don’t cue every rep, as this only reduces the overall impact of your cuing.

  3. Don’t try to fill the silence for the sake of it. Give your prospect a chance to experience your training and share their thoughts as they arise naturally.

Your goal should be to strike a mix between being informative and helpful, without coming across as overbearing.

9. Give yourself more time than you think you need

I’ve made the mistake in the past of sandwiching complimentary sessions between other paid clients without allowing any buffer time. This put me in situations where I didn’t have enough time to comfortably sit down with my prospect and have a relaxed conversation about what training option would suit them moving forward.

An easy way around this is to schedule an additional 15-minutes for any session with a prospect. This ensures that you’re relaxed and have plenty of time to discuss training options and answer any questions your prospect may have.

10. Close the deal

You’ve gotten this far; don’t drop the ball now. At the end of your complimentary session, it’s crucial that you go for the sale! That said, I know this moment creates anxiety for many personal trainers.

Some prospective clients will spontaneously inquire about pricing, which leads to a natural conversation about starting a training relationship; however, most often your prospects won’t close themselves, so it becomes your role to guide them towards finalising the sale.

Don’t overthink it. Keep your dialogue simple and to the point. By this stage, your prospect has more than likely decided whether they will or won’t continue with training, so it is your job to uncover that decision by asking the following:

  • What did you think of the session; did you enjoy it?
  • Would you like to continue with training?

If you’ve done the work of listening to your prospect’s training goals and motivations, taking them through a complimentary training session that’s in-line with what they want to achieve and educated your prospect on how training with you is the best solution for their needs, then bringing them on as a paying client should be no more than a simple formality at this point.

Final Thoughts

Complimentary training sessions are one of the most effective sales tools you have as a personal trainer, so it’s important that when you do one with a prospect, your put your best foot forward to give yourself the greatest possible chance of making the sale.

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James McDonald

James is the founder of PT Blogger. He helps personal trainers grow their client-bases, earn more money and thrive in the industry.
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