We’ve all been there. You’ve put time, emotional energy and commitment into working with a prospective client. You’ve started the process of building rapport and learning the client’s training goals and underlying motives.
You’ve meticulously planned out a program that you believe is best suited for what the prospect wants to achieve, and you’ve even pencilled in a spot or two in your weekly schedule that you think will work for them.
You’re ready to ask for the sale and you’re confident that you’ve connected with the prospect and have done enough to convince them that training with you is the solution to their needs.
Chest held high, you proudly ask your prospective client if they’d like to continue training with you (confident that you’ll hear an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’) and are met with one of these dreaded replies:
‘Thanks for your help, I’ll think about it’
‘I would love to continue with you, but I can’t afford it right now’
‘Look, it’s just not a good time for me to make a commitment to training’
You try and keep it cool, but you’re burning on the inside and about to break into a cold sweat on the outside.
The psychology of objections
All great salespeople know that objections are just part of the dance when it comes to sales and negotiation. Selling a high-ticket service like personal training is no different.
When you get hit with an objection, take notice of what your prospect doesn’t say. In the above examples, the prospect didn’t say ‘no’. They didn’t close the door. Objections are just another way for a prospect to slow down the sale and get more time, information or space to make their decision.
If you throw the towel in as soon as your prospect objects, you’re leaving money on the table.
How to handle objections
When a prospect objects, it means they simply have reservations that need to be satisfied before they can make a commitment to training with you. In my experience, the most effective way to work around an objection is to isolate it and uncover the true barrier to the prospect’s decision.
If the objection is based on cost:
Begin with empathy:
‘I completely understand. Personal training is a premium service, and it certainly isn’t an investment you can take lightly.’
But just because the prospect says it’s a money problem doesn’t mean that’s the whole story:
‘Just to clarify, if we put the cost of training aside for a moment and imagine it’s not an issue, would you continue with training?’
If they agree that they’d be willing to purchase training if not for the cost, offer some different options. Keep in mind that the prospect wouldn’t be in the room with you if they had no discretionary funds. Your goal now is to figure out what they can afford.
Maybe they can train with you once a week, or once every two weeks, and do supplemental workouts on their own. Or maybe they’ll pay you to design them a program and provide instruction on how to do the exercises but would like to do the workouts on their own.
Note: the one option you should never offer is a lower price. Your price is a statement of your value, and it should only go up as you gain more experience.
If the objection is based on time:
As you did with cost, you need to find out if lack of time is a legitimate concern or if it’s a smokescreen for something else. Ask the prospect something like this:
‘Just to clarify, if we put the issue of having time for training aside for a moment, did you enjoy the session, and do you think training with me would help you achieve your goals?’
If your prospect agrees that they’d be willing to train with you if they had the time, ask some questions to better understand their time constraints and to figure out how they can make more room in their schedule.
Keep in mind, as you did with the cost objection, that the prospect wouldn’t be talking to you if they didn’t want to pursue some kind of training program. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to make it work.
If they say they need to think about it:
Begin with a simple question:
‘If you don’t mind me asking, what do you need to think about?’
(NB: This question can sometimes come across as pushy, so be careful with your tone of voice)
Maybe there’s another decision-maker they need to consult. Maybe they need to crunch some numbers to see what they can afford or look over their calendar to figure out a viable training schedule. Ask your prospect when a good time would be to follow up and leave it there.
Or maybe what they’re really saying is, ‘I have the time. I have the money. What I don’t have is confidence that what you offer is what I need to reach my goals’. In that case, ask what you can do to gain the client’s trust.
What if you don’t make the sale?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Even the best trainers can’t sell their services to everyone. Here’s what you should do after being turned down:
- Create a record of your prospect’s training goals and contact details.
- Set a reminder in your calendar to follow up in six to eight weeks.
Don’t send them a new sales pitch every two months, just send them something of value related to their goals, like a link to an interesting article or podcast. Make sure your email signature includes links to the social media platform you use most, like your Instagram page or a free Facebook group.
Don’t expect anything in return to your email—not even a response to the message. Your goal is to show the prospect you’re thinking of them, and to ensure they’ll think of you when they’re ready to hire a trainer.
The key thing to remember is not to throw in the towel if your prospect objects as you’re trying to sell them training. As we discussed, when a prospect objects, it’s more than likely just an attempt to slow down having to make a decision.
Remember to hang in there and work through each objection as it’s presented. Giving your prospect support and getting to the heart of their objections can be the difference between making a sale or not.
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