Your prospect just told you they have been thinking about getting in shape for the past 10 years and today is the closest they have been to do something about it. Then they say, “I need to go home and think about it.” Or, “I need to talk this over with my spouse,” after your prospect shared with you that their spouse is 100% supportive.
When working with prospects, the behavior we often experience is although a person may be seemingly convinced that they desperately want a specific result, an objection will always exist that keeps them from committing.
For more effective sales, the art of overcoming objections needs to be practiced by challenging status quo responses through reflection and asking better questions. More specifically, you must structure your sales process in such a way that it feels more like collaboration between two experts. Your prospect is the expert of him/herself and you are the expert in fitness. Together the two of you come together to figure out what needs to happen to achieve the desired result. This is not something that you do to your prospects. This is something that you do with your prospects. When executed properly, the process seems more like a dance where the dance instructor (fitness professional) is guiding and leading, while the dancer (your prospect) is following and responding, all the while feeling like they are actually in charge.
Every sales process generally follows the basic steps where a sales person prospects, builds rapport, qualifies, presents solutions, shows rates, asks for the sale and does something after the sale to make sure the client is properly set up for their first session. The idea behind the process is three-fold. One, as long as you follow the process, in the event that you don’t sell a program, you can then go back and figure which part of the process you need to improve. Two, a sales process is important to have so one can replicate it and teach it to others. And finally, a sales process is necessary to overcome objections.
If you’re doing any sort of sales, you have probably asked, “How do I overcome objections?” Warren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question, would say this is the wrong question to ask. “A more beautiful” question would sound like this, “How can the conversation go in such a way that inspires the individual to change because they want to, not because I am telling them to?”
To shift your sales conversations to limit prospect objections, try using the 4-step GROW model (Goals, Reality, Options, We). The concept behind the GROW model is to “grow” with your prospect in such a way that in the end you can tell a compelling story. The kind of a story that tells you what your prospect is looking to accomplish. The kind of story that tells you about their current and past situation, specifically why this prospect hasn’t already accomplished what they want. This focuses on a real solution to a real problem your prospect has faced most of their life and offers a happy, inspiring ending.
To begin, you need to talk about what your prospect hopes to accomplish and understand their expectations if they were to join your gym/studio. Everyone has some sort of expectation when they start exercising. The key here is to keep your conversation positive; ask open-ended questions that yield positive answers. When asking open-ended questions, you’ll want to look for leverage. In this case, leverage is something that’s so important to them that if you take it away, they would be willing to fight to get it back. Leverage is typically someone else. People are more likely to change behavior for someone other than themselves. Read that last sentence one more time. What that means to you is you must figure out what or who it is that the prospect is willing to change for and why. When that happens, you now have leverage to inspire and motivate them to take a step in a different direction.
“Goals” focus on the future; “Reality” focuses on current and past experiences. The key is to start shifting one’s mind from “I should do this” to “I must do this.” This conversation is a bit more guided. Each question builds on another. Syntax is important in this part of the GROW model. In this step, the idea is to get prospects to understand what rock bottom feels like. Most people are likely to avoid pain. Talking about what rock bottom would feel like is one of the most critical aspects to changing behavior. This conversation is more negative and very real. Most people don’t change behavior because they have very little or no sense of awareness. They have no clue why or what has held them back. One of the most important steps in “R” is to figure out what the problem has been in the past. This is also the step where we talk about people’s behavior with time and money; not what they spend their time and money on. The difference is you are not judging or criticizing them for spending their money on fast food and soda. What you are is an empathetic listener and a fitness expert. Be very cautious with the tone of your voice and what you are emphasizing when asking questions.
“O” stands for the options or solutions to the problem(s) discovered in “R.” This is a collaborative effort. The key here is offering several suggestions. In one way or another, this should highlight your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This conversation should feel very liberating because a prospect is finally getting a real solution to a real problem that they have been dealing with for most of their life.
The idea of “we” tells the prospect they are not going to do this by themselves. Your focus is to raise hope and instill a sense of security. The key here is to highlight what they are good at and ensure they have support, guidance and accountability.
Your objective when using the GROW model isn’t to get anything from your prospects (money) or make your prospects take a specific action (buy or close the sale). You are in the fitness industry because you enjoy giving and helping. The GROW model allows you to piece together a story that’s very clear, articulate and real. When done with passion and genuine care, a true relationship is formed that’s based on trust and authenticity. As a result, objections from potential clients are less likely to be a hindrance to growing your business and impacting lives.
Michael Gelfgot has been in the fitness industry for 15 years. His expertise comes from over 10,000 hours of face-to-face interactions and countless hours of reading and listening to books on what makes humans tick.