Membership Selling in Modern Times

April 2, 2014

By: Michael Scott Scudder
Founder/CEO of Fitness Business Council

There’s much about “selling” in the 21st Century that has become tangled. “Price presentation” and “deal-offering” now precede “value advancement.” Club sales personnel think that they have to tour a potential member through a maze of steel and Naugahyde before he/she can make a decision! Sales reps are taught to “overcome objections” rather than find out facts.

To which I say: Baloney! Foolish!
Modern selling actually needs to return to earlier-era professional sales approaches. In those approaches, the first concept that sales personnel (regardless of age, sex, or type of personality) mastered was “qualifying the prospective customer.”

What does that mean – qualify?
It means find out about the customer first – even before you “tour” him/her. What promoted him to come in today? How does he or she feel about themselves in relation to exercise? What gets in the way of him participating in an exercise program in your club?

There are four (4) basic steps that any salesperson – regardless of length of service, whether a “veteran” or a “rookie” – can use to qualify any possible buyer.
A genuine “prospect” exhibits four (4) definite characteristics (think of the acronym N-M-T-U):

  1. NEED- The person considering buying genuinely has to know he/she needs/wants this product or service.
  2. MONEY- The person considering buying has funds to pay for the product or service, either up front in full, or on a continuous/scheduled-payment basis.
  3. TIME- The person considering buying is willing to devote specific time to participate/use the …product or service being offered.
  4. URGENCY- The person considering buying wants to buy now.

Remember, please remember that you are NOT selling memberships. You are conducting a personal interview with a human being who is attempting to find out if what you have to offer meets what he/she perceives to be their needs. If, in the personal interview process, each of these four aspects is not satisfied…you do not have a prospect – you merely have an “interested person” (I call them “suspects!”). If you fail to engage each and all of these four principles, it’s likely that in 60% of circumstances, you’ll have a “walk-out” leave without buying because he/she felt that you were trying to sell them rather than get to know them and provide space for them to make a good decision.

Even if a person does buy without being qualified, there’s a strong chance that he or she will cancel membership within a few months. One of the facets of modern selling that is of uppermost importance is that the customer expresses satisfaction with the sales process itself…it seems to add “value” to the purchase – at least in the customer’s mind.

(Michael Scott Scudder is Founder/CEO of Fitness Business Council, the independent club business network. Michael can be contacted at 575-751-1212 or