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3 Skills to Strengthen Membership Sales, Part 2: Handling Objections

Posted by Kevin Talley on Dec 19, 2019 7:00:00 AM

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This three-part blog series is based on “The Power of the Human Connection” webinar hosted by Jeff Wild, Director of Sales. In his presentation, Jeff explored the critical skills you and your sales staff need in your fitness business. If you haven’t yet, check out part one here, and after reading part two, look for the final blog in the series coming soon! 


One of the most difficult hurdles in this sales process is objections, those sticking points that prospects cite as a reason not to buy. This blog will review Jeff’s strategies for successfully handling objections both proactively and reactively during the sales process. 

Handling Objections Proactively 

To gain real-world insights, the Club OS team surveyed working fitness professionals about how often they encounter objections in the sales process. 

Unsurprisingly, no respondents reported never facing objections, but 73% of those surveyed indicated encountering them 50% or more of the time. Ideally, this number should be closer to 25% of the time or less. By taking proactive steps you can reduce the overall number of objections your team sees during sales. 

1.) Lead with questions

Before your staff shows a prospect around your facility, they should gain background information on the prospect by asking questions. The goal is to uncover the prospect’s “why”, i.e. what they hope to accomplish by joining your fitness center. These preliminary questions will inform how you conduct the rest of the tour, and when done properly, will make it much more productive for both your sales team and the prospect. 

A few questions to ask: 

  • What has been your previous fitness experience? 
  • Have you joined other clubs in the past? 
  • What are you looking for in a fitness center? 
  • What are a few of your fitness goals? 
  • What equipment or workouts are you interested in learning more about? 

Make sure this information is entered into your club’s CRM software, so it’s properly stored and easily referenced during periodic member assessments. 

2.) Utilize buyer personas

As discussed in part one of this blog series, you should have buyer personas, i.e. profiles of general prospect types that help you understand their needs and how your club can meet them. By asking questions, your sales staff can identify which buyer persona the prospect aligns with and tailor their club tour to highlight the services that are most important to that persona. 

3.) Introduce the objection before the prospect

Through your buyer personas, your staff should understand the common objections that they will potentially encounter with the prospect. Typically, prospects wait to object until the end of the club tour, but your team can proactively introduce and alleviate these objections before the prospect does. 

Here’s how this can work for a few common objections: 

Objection: “I don’t have enough time.”

To combat this objection, create a 20-minute workout circuit on your gym floor. This circuit should be incorporated early into club tours for prospects who match buyer personas that frequently introduce a time-based objection. Further, you can use a social norm strategy by letting the prospect know your team created the 20-minute workout circuit because people often cite a lack of time as a concern when considering a membership. This shows the prospect that their concern is valid but also easily remedied. 

Objection: “I don’t stick with fitness routines and I never see results.” 

This objection is a great opportunity to cross-sell and deepen membership value. If a prospect matches a buyer persona that frequently raises a concern about sticking with a fitness plan, you can again use the social norm strategy. Let the prospect know that a lot of your clients are first-time gym members, so you offer assessments with trainers to create a workout plan and regular follow-ups to maintain accountability. This is a win-win because your prospect is given the tools to succeed while your trainers have a one-on-one opportunity to build relationships with new clients.

Handling Objections Reactively 

No matter how effective your club tours, not all objections can be handled proactively. So, what approach should you take when an objection is introduced at the end of the sales process? Here are a few strategies to reactively manage objections. 

1.) Never argue

Arguing with a prospect over an objection is the quickest way to come off as a bully salesperson. Even if your points are valid and you win the argument, you’ve likely lost the sale. You can’t form a relationship with the prospect if it begins with “you’re wrong and I’m right” attitude.

2.) Be empathetic and agreeable 

Instead of arguing, show the prospect you understand their objection and why it’s a concern for them. This aligns you with the prospect and shows them you aren’t here to strong-arm them into any decision. This will keep them more open to continue discussing the value you’re offering. 

3.) Create a cycle of “Yes” 

This strategy works well with stall-tactic objections like “I need to think about it over the weekend”. Help the prospect start nodding their head yes, but review the membership value props you covered in the tour. 

  • Our club is five minutes from your work. Is that the level of convenience you were looking for in a gym? 
  • Do you think you could get a quality workout in 20 minutes using the circuit we toured? 
  • Does our facility have the amenities you were looking for like our sauna, tanning beds, and child care? 
  • Do our membership dues fit your budget? 

4.) Ask for the close

Don’t wait for the prospect to tell you they’re ready to buy. A surprising amount of salespeople don’t actually ask for the sale, leaving it to the prospect to decide when they’re ready to say yes, or more likely, no. Recap what you’ve discussed, layout your value props, and then ask for the yes. 

5.) Stay connected 

If you ultimately hear that dreaded word “no”, then make sure to set up the expectation that you will follow-up with them. It’s incredibly hard to re-establish contact with a prospect once they leave your tour, so give them an incentive to stay in contact like a free guest pass then absolutely make sure you follow-up via phone, email, or text. A no today doesn’t mean they won’t reconsider tomorrow. 

Watch the complete The Power of the Human Connection webinar to learn more! 

Topics: Sales

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