Create a Unique Selling Proposition: how do you create a unique selling proposition? A unique selling proposition has to indicate a special message about the product or service you are trying to promote and thus generate sales. For example:
Fitness Adventure Company’s unique selling proposition is ‘far from ordinary’ – a succinct phrase that promotes the twin ideas of far flung exotic destinations and luxury travel.
Virgin Active’s chain of gyms has as their slogan: ‘Live happily ever active’ which is a nice play on the phrase ‘ they lived happily ever after’ as fairy stories frequently used to end but it also implies longevity and happiness which are both high valued traits.
For LA fitness the slogan is ‘we’ll get there together’ – indicating that the clients should expect to be successful and to be helped along the way by joining these gyms.
Decide which types of clients you are aiming for – e.g. corporate; injury rehab; weight loss. In his book ‘Ignite the Fire’ Jonathan Goodman identifies three types of clients:
Performance clients – those who are training to compete at a higher level;
Physique clients – those who want to look physically perfect
Fitness clients – those who want to improve their health, lose weight and increase their enjoyment of physical activity.
You will need to understand your clients and adapt your strategies to fit in with their objectives, all of which can probably be summarised under one of the above headings.
Set yourself up as a health concierge – see box below. Develop and cost services that will be attractive to your potential clients: like affiliating with a local nutritionist; or an endocrinology lab (for testing metabolism). Use links with others on social media to test these services and get feedback.Present your services so that they are attractive to your potential clients: Work out what needs your clients have and which service providerswill meet these needs.
|Setting up as a health concierge
As a personal trainer looking at yourself as simply hours in the day can limit your growth.
Being a health concierge means that you are not only a personal trainer but also a health adviser on a much broader scale. Expanding your knowledge by doing new/refresher courses (e.g. with Careers in Fitness) will set you up above the competition and let your clients know you are continually growing. Once you’ve established yourself and are comfortable with your qualifications, developing partnerships will be the most effective way to set yourself up as a health concierge, maximising income and continuing the growth of your business.
Ideas for partnerships include, for instance,partnering with a nutritionist, a food delivery system, a chiropractor, laser clinician, hairdressers, dentists, a health networking system (e.g. Active Contacts) a health holiday company (e.g. Fitness Adventure Travel.
Each of these partnerships should be of benefit to you as a health professional/health concierge.
Whether this is for referral of new clients or direct commission is dependent on the relationship but most importantly your client will benefit from you positioning yourself as a health concierge.
Set yourself up as a brand. A brand is a set of ideas that spring to mind when your or your company’s name is mentioned. What do current and potential clients, customers or colleagues think when they hear this name? What do you believe in and how can this be communicated? What is your vision for your company and for your clients? How do you want to come across to others?
We need to manage the brand associated with our company as far as we possibly can because its value is paramount in attracting and maintaining a client base. It will also be important when you want to affiliate with others or if you want to employ people. Do they want to associate with the set of ideas that makes up your brand? Absolute control is not possible because there will be outside influences which you are not totally able to manage. For example, someone might make an unfair comment about your company on Twitter. Or there could be an unfortunate incident which was beyond your control but has the potential to damage your reputation. However, some aspects can be managed and the following examples will help:
- Your brand should reflect the USP that you have identified and indicate what is special about your company
- design an attractive logo and web site
- have a clear policy about how clients are to be treated and communicate this to anyone you employ
- offer a great service to clients in terms of the effort you put into the design of clients’ training
- keep up to date with trends in the industry
- make sure you are well qualified and that clients know what these qualifications are
- take additional courses e.g. Pilates, functional training, yoga etc.
Affiliate with other brands that make you better/stronger and which resonate with the brand that you have created for yourself. For example, if you wish to indicate to your clients that you are working in the luxury sector or in a sector that offers good value for money, you need to ensure that the brands with which you are affiliate indicate a similar set of values.
You are continuously representing your product. You could be out having a coffee and meet a potential client or in the park; socialising in night clubs, attending specific networking, and social events. Every person you meet is a potential client. Reflect on the places you have been in the last few weeks and identify which venues and activities might produce potential clients.
Many people do not enjoy networking – the very thought makes us feel sick and inadequate. For others this is the meat and drink of life that keeps them going. For those of us who are not so keen on networking this becomes a challenge that we need to overcome in order to build up our business. It isn’t an optional activity unfortunately. Without networking we stand less chance of building up our client bases – we will basically be depending on others to recommend us. We also may miss out on other business opportunities and on meeting potential business partners or people who would be willing to recommend us if they only knew that we existed!
Tips on networking include:
- Get someone to design a business card which reflects your brand that you can hand out at a networking event. Make sure it is attractive and something that you are happy to hand out. Sometimes people include a photo of themselves which can be helpful in reminding people who it was that handed them the card. Don’t forget to use the back of the card as well so that no space goes to waste.
- You may find it easier to get chatting to people if you are in a setting where there is some activity going on other than just talking to people. [See case study below about affiliating with charities.] This gives a common ground on which to open up a conversation. It also means that you can potentially be doing something useful rather than just giving a sales pitch – especially if that makes you uncomfortable.
- Sometimes it’s better to get to the event early when fewer people are around. The others will be looking for someone to speak to in order to break the ice. If you arrive later on you may find that everyone has found a partner to speak to. It can be dispiriting if you are hanging around with no one to talk to and in that type of situation the reluctant networker can easily (and understandably) lose confidence.
- You could set yourself a goal about how many people you are going to aim to speak to. And think of some reward for yourself for after the event to give yourself positive motivation to keep going.
- Look out for anyone who is on their own. They will be very grateful that someone has come up and started speaking to them!
- If you organise your own networking event then you are automatically in a more powerful position. You will know who has been invited and can more easily open up a conversation with people. If you do organise an event you could also ask people who they would like to speak to and lay on people to make introductions.
- You might find it useful to practise making a succinct summary of the main aspects of your company that you think others may be interested in however…
- It is important to be a good listener. Most people prefer talking about themselves, so you can make them feel good by listening intelligently to what they have to say. Some skills of active listening are included at the end of this seminar.
- It is also important that you get people talking so that you can find out what’s important to them. That way you can make your pitch in such a way that it addresses their needs and makes it more interesting for them to listen to you. So don’t start on your own sales pitch until you have found out something about the other person.
- Make sure you find some way of following up with anyone who looks like they would potentially be interesting to keep in contact with. And make contact provisionally within 48 hours of the event. Email clients with readymade PDFs with useful information relating to their goals.
|Volunteer your time:affiliations with Charities and outreach programmes
Sarah wanted to expand her business and to do this she wished to enlarger her personal profile in her immediate community. A friend of hers worked for a charity and suggested One way to get her name out to others might be to volunteer a few hours a months to this charity.
Sarah investigated and researched various charities that she may be able to benefit with her knowledge and experience. She ended up choosing her friend’s charity after all. It was a children charity for youth with intellectually challenging behaviour. Many of the young people suffered from Down Syndrome. As a result of down syndrome excessive weight gain is common. Sarah decided to design a fun outdoor exercise class twice a week for the young people. It was a roaring success they all loved the classes.
Sarah was delighted and was learning a lot from the youth charity. The charity got publicity and media attention as a result of what seemed their proactive approach to weight gain in youth. However it was of course Sarah’s plan of action that resulted in this chain reaction. The charity received an added grant from their local authority and ended up employing Sarah to over see some of the project. Sarah got positive attention from press and local governing officials. Result being she landed a new contact gained new business and eventually Sarah was requested by the parents of the youth to set up a class for them also.
Sarah’s profile was raised; she gave back to the community, the young people benefited and Sarah’s business expanded.
Coping with Challenges
On the way there will be many challenges. Challenges are like Marmite. Some people like challenges while others do not. If you are a PT you must love and embrace a challenge or you are in the wrong field/occupation. We all face triggers and challenges on a daily basis, some might be as simple as punctuality, clients cancelling, or new clients not signing up. Some clients and colleagues might be easily ruffled. Approaching new people could be a challenge. Money is often an awkward subject for people and it can be a challenge to deal with these discussions effectively. It is often our reaction to these types of triggers that causes the most negative out comes.
Here is a way of coping with challenging situations that you may find useful: it is based on the memory aid (mnemonic) of a T-pot.
T – TRIGGER
P – PAUSE
O – OWN
T- TURN IT AROUND
The Challenge is the Trigger – it causes a reaction. Pausing helps to control this reaction and work out the most effective way of responding. Owning (the situation) means that no matter what, you must take responsibility for your reactions. Once you see that you have in some way affected this – Turn it around.
|Fabio is a trainer from the south of Italy. He has always been a passionate self-righteous sort of fellow. Fabio was intolerant of what he saw as his clients’ failures so much so that he started to lose clients as they would be scared off by his attitude.He suddenly realised that his business was severely in trouble. He spoke to his team and came to one of our seminars on wealth development. Fabio realised that his passionate vocals might often be misconstrued as aggressive behaviour and embraced the idea of TPOT.
Fabio told me a few weeks later that every time he would feel like a client was not trying hard enough in his head he would visualise a teapot and think “This is my trigger, I need to pause, to calm myself, take a deep breath, take responsibility and understand that it might be my approach that is adding to the situation and turn it around, then I would see how I can remedy the situation from my end”
Fabio also applied this method to contacting clients… He used to respond immediately to clients cancelling last minute, he now would pause and follow the TPOT method to deal with the situation.
Fabio’s business picked up again and he felt less stressed.
Create a need for your services is about your conversations with clients over the phone, meeting face to face explaining that with your help the clients will reach their goals and life will be enriched.
There are different traditions and developments relating to exercise depending on which part of the world you are working in. Each person needs to be treated differently, not only in relation to the culture that they come from but also in relation to the individual’s personality.
|Case study on Caroline
Caroline is a professional lady who has so devoted herself to her career she has developed terrible eating habits. As a result of her lifestyle her weight has slowly risen to an obese level.
Her extreme weight gain caused her confidence to be decrease. She would wear baggy clothes to try hide her shape. Eventually it affected every aspect of her life. With her health at risk she needed a drastic change: she approached a local PT:
The first thing the PT did after an embarrassing skinfold test was an intense training session with burpees and plyometric exercise.
Do you see a problem here?
What should the trainer have done?
Give 5 reasons why clients should not receive blanket treatment?
Create the desire:
Why does this person need you? Remember they will probably have attempted some form of fitness activity in the past and not seen the desired results. Or they may have reached a cross-roads in their life. Your job, by creating a desire within them, is to ensure that they embrace this need for you in their lives.
Example: Pen scene from Wolf of Wall Street
So how do we do this? As Fitness Professionals we can do a Body Analysis – this Window of Opportunity gives us a chance to create the need and build a vision for the client of how they could look in the future.
Ask Key Questions:
Examples of questions could include:
Are they striving to achieve a specific goal in a certain time frame? Perhaps for a Holiday or a Wedding.
On a scale of 1 to 10 what is their desire to achieve this goal – 1 being not too bothered and 10 being most determined.
As a Fitness Professional it is your job to give them advice and feedback, providing realistic information about the feasibility of them achieving these goals. You need to make them aware of the hard work involved!
Identify buying signals–
When a prospective client starts to consider buying a health package from you, he/she probably might not come right out and say it. In fact, he might not even realize how interested he is. Instead of openly stating his interest, most prospects will start to make “buying signals,” in the form of either questions or statements. Being able to recognize these buying signals will give you a strong advantage.
For example, a prospective client might ask a question such as, “What do I get for my money ?”, “How many sessions per week?” or “How long does it take to see results?” These are extremely strong buying signals and should indicate to you that the customer is really interested. Once you’ve answered the prospect’s question, you can develop his interest further by painting a picture of what his life will be like once he owns the product.
Another strong buying signal would be when a prospective client asks you to repeat something or digs for more information. For example, he/she might say “What else can I do to compliment my training and increase results?” or “Can you go into more detail about that your specific type of training?” This tells you which aspect of your skill set he/she found particularly interesting. Such an interest usually points out a hot button or pain point that you can later emphasize in your presentation to help seal the deal; this could be weight gain in a certain area, injury rehabilitation, social acceptance etc
Objections are often a buying signal. When a prospective client makes an objection, it means he’s considering buying but is concerned about one or more aspects of the purchase. Questions like “What if I’m not seeing results?” or statements like “I can’t afford this” mean that you’ve at least started to pique the prospect’s interest. This is a request for you to solidify the sale.
Don’t apply too much pressure, and wrap up with clarity and confidence.
Many fitness professionals struggle with closing a sale because they don’t realise the need to sell themselves. Here’s a sure-fire, six-step process, based upon a conversation with Linda Richardson, founder of the sales training firm Richardson and author of the bestselling book Perfect Selling.
Be aware of your client’s needs and keep in constant communication about the programme or their health even when they are not training that day.
Try to take the long view and create a lasting relationship with them so that they do not always feel that you are putting them under pressure.
With the long view in mind, don’t try to make sales to your client that would not be to their advantage in the long run. They have to feel that youcare for their well-being.
Support your spoken language with positive body language. E.g. do not fold your arms; do not sit above the client.
Use Active Listening Skills to ensure that you encourage them to talk and so that you can hear accurately what your client is saying. Listening effectively is much more difficult than speaking but the more you speak the less time there is for your client to talk and the less you will find out about them.
|Skills of Active Listening:
There are two important aspects to active listening:
Examples of these include: summarising, reflecting, eye-contact, concentrating (less use of your phone while they are with you), being aware of the signals sent out by your body language.
Both your USP and your pitch should be clear.
Use SMS to keep in touch as well as to follow up to clinch any sales. Timing could be crucial and instant messaging at the appropriate time could be crucial.
Provide clients with information on new and existing services e.g. I am now affiliated with an adventure company.By positioning yourself as a luxury brand by affiliating with companies like Fitness Adventure Travel will allow you to immediately be positioned higher than a standalone PT.
Use an up-to-date client management systems. E.g. Pure-Life Style system <purelifestyle.co.uk>. Client management systems like Pure Life Style will help you to create exercise plans, meals plans and track client progress. All this information can be easily shared with your client. It can be customized with your own personal brand.
Encourage all clients to persuade friends and family to be more healthy.
Don’t forget that personal training is a luxury.
What does Leadership mean for a self-employed personal trainer?Different leadership styles exist so an individual fitness professional will need to reflect on their own style as a leader and the way in which this style needs to be adapted according to the dynamics of the specific situation. Versatility and adaptability will be the key factors ensuring success.
As a fitness professional it is crucial to recognize the role of leadership. PTs will be leading by example particularly vis a vis the clients. Personal trainers are renowned for following a healthy life style and encouraging their clients to do the same. They are essentially leading by example. Leadership comes in many forms, setting yourself up as a health adviser and health concierge (refer to section on how to set yourself up as a health concierge) makes it apparent to all your clients that you can lead them into a healthier lifestyle with better habits.
|Leading by Example
Kurt qualified as a personal trainer four years ago with Careers in Fitness. He has undertaken a number of extensive speciality courses to improve his knowledge and make his resume more appealing to a wider audience. His first job was with a gym chain where he stayed for 12 months. As in many cases the gym chain would take 50% of his hourly rate so Kurt decided to take decisive action to become self-employed. This undoubtedly takes courage as to run your own successful business is not an easy feat.
Kurt invested in some outdoor exercise equipment and started to train some of his new clients in the park. For the first four months he struggled without the support system of a gym chain around him. He went to a business development seminar and in the seminar they talked extensively about using your own personal network to develop your brand and business. He thought about this and realized he had become lacklustre expecting potential clients to see him in the park and approach him. He set out a plan of action: he would ask all of his current clients to recommend him to at least one friend for a complimentary session. Kurt then approached his local primary school and asked if they would be interested in a 20 minute seminar on healthy eating habits and exercise…. the first three schools declined; the principle of the fourth school agreed it was good idea.
Kurt then used the same approach technique and contacted two larger firms and offered lunch time blitz class twice a week: complimentary for the first month and £5 per class after that… The companies agreed and also offered to subsidize the classes.
Positioning himself as a ‘go to’ approachable health professional in the community allowed Kurt to expand and grow his business. Kurt used his current network and displayed leadership initiative by spreading the word of how to live a healthier lifestyle; the children in the class room saw him as a leader, the office employees saw him as a leader…Kurt was inundated with calls and now employs two other trainers working with him who also look to him for leadership. He has a monthly newsletter with health tips and continues to grow.
The skills of leadership will also include giving a vision to your clients and to any people with whom you are working, helping them to see what direction they need to go in in order to achieve that vision; getting the right fit between the people and the vision so that either clients or colleagues are motivated to go in a way that as far as possible fits with their preferred style and objectives. Negotiating, influencing and persuading will also be important skills for the fitness professional to develop.
|Karl developed his business
Karl now employs 3 personal trainers, he provides them with clients and takes a small percentage of their hourly fee. One of Karl’s trainers was ex-military called Chris – a fantastically knowledgeable trainer with a high octane energetic personality. Unfortunately his over enthusiasm was often misconstrued as aggressively motivating his clients. He seemed to lose one client every week.
How should Karl deal with this problem?
Keeping up to date
Sports science is a constantly changing world so continued education while working is vital. Careers in fitness offer such courses [http://www.careersinfitnessltd.co.uk/]. Expand your contact field, create a family around you to support your business. Like-minded people can be found on Active Contacts [https://www.activecontacts4u.co.uk/].