The Sales Professional's Checklist
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If you are in fitness sales, you probably have had a friend or family member ask you, "When are you going to go get a 'real' job?" Thirty-three years ago, my father asked me the same question after I left the international business job that reflected my degree but I was miserable doing. For years, I would get the same question at family holidays. Although the health and fitness club industry was much less of a "profession" back then, the question and the insinuation that selling club memberships wasn't a "real" job really angered me. Ironically, I was putting in more hours as a fitness salesperson than I was as an International Trade Specialist!
Three decades later, there is still the perception that health and fitness club sales isn't a profession or a career path! Most of these beliefs are due to lack of understanding by others, but some of it is deserved, because as an industry, there is no formal training for the job. Pharmaceutical sales reps go through a grueling 6- to 8-week training program, most often away from their home and with extensive testing. If they pass that aspect of the training, they will spend the next 12 months of their life riding shotgun with the regional rep. This allows the salesperson to model excellence and the manager to ensure proper training as well as personal introductions to existing accounts. The bottom line is that the pharmaceutical companies recognize the value of every doctor recommending (or not) their drugs, and they go to great lengths to make sure their salespeople know their product, know their job and are competent before unleashing them solo on a client.
Compare that with health and fitness sales. A club hires a new rep, has them shadow a veteran for a few days, has them meet with the Sales Manager to train for some number of hours the first week or two, and then, BAM, they are taking a walk-in. Even if your club does have a formal training program (or uses my online system, which is 14 hours over two weeks), it is still very "light" compared to the training many other "professional" salespeople receive.
What's the point? First, ensure that every salesperson gets the proper sales skills training, with role-playing and testing before they are allowed to work with a club-generated lead. Second, health and fitness salespeople should make it their mission to display the attributes of a true professional. Let's outline three key aspects that will impact every fitness salespersons' level of success.
Industry Knowledge - Although there is much about the health and fitness club industry that has remained the same, it is a dynamic market that is constantly evolving. It's important that you stay up to date on trends and happenings. One way to do that is by reading industry magazines and blogs. If your facility is a member of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), it should receive CBI Magazine monthly. Other notable publications are Club Insider, Club Solutions and Active Aging. All of these focus on the business side of the industry. And, Club Industry has a fantastic online portal that keeps visitors up to date, and you don't need to be a member to have access.
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