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A personal trainer showing a client an app on an iPad tablet.
A personal trainer showing a client an app on an iPad tablet.

Getting Clients Without The Hard Sell

7 minute read

So, you’ve completed your personal training course and you’re excited to put your newfound skills into practice and start training clients. However, the sales and marketing side of the job isn’t something you’re looking forward to as much, and you’re wondering how you’re going to get clients without the hard sell.

Or, you might even be a personal trainer who has had enough of the one-step sales strategy, your website might not be making any progress, or your diary may not be as full as you want it to be.

If this is how you feel, you’ll be glad to know that you are not alone. The majority of personal trainers don’t relish the sales aspect of the profession, and it’s not an answer that ever tends to come up when we ask our students why they wanted to become personal trainers.

In this article, we’ve put together a simple five-step strategy for you to follow and hopefully find success with. It’s important to remember that persistence is key, and having the drive to keep pushing for success will be helpful when you need to motivate your clients.

Step 1: Introduce Yourself to Your Market

Think about where you’ll find the kind of clients you most want to work with. If you work within the gym environment then get thinking about how you can actually introduce yourself to them.

It might be as simple as just approaching members and holding a short conversation to introduce yourself and what you do. Your club or gym might hold events giving you an opportunity to meet and chat to members, or it might be a referral you’ve been given.

the best to get more personal training clients is first by introducing yourself

If you operate outside of the gym environment then you need to be more creative and proactive in seeking out your potential clients. Do your clients attend specific events? Who else works with your clients? Where do they hang out?

You’re looking for opportunities to introduce yourself to people who could be your kind of clients or to people who can put you in touch with your ideal clients.

Step 2: Give Your Potential Clients Some Valuable Information

Once you’ve introduced yourself, your potential clients are looking for just one thing from you. They are looking for information about you and about what you do. Most importantly, they want to know what it will do for them and how you might be right for them.

It’s about increasing your credibility and authority as a professional PT. So, instead of just giving out a business card or leaflet like every other PT, and waiting for interested clients to call you, you’re going to offer them something of real value.

You will need to get creative because you’ll need to have something of value that you can give away for free. This might be an article or a short report you’ve written which addresses the issues or challenges that your clients are facing. It might be ‘Top 10 Tips’ or ‘5 Biggest Weight Loss Myths’ etc. The content you provide here will help your clients to get to know you and what you do a little better, and help them to work out whether you are someone that could help them.

offering free resources is a great way to secure more personal training clients

If you have a website then you can start directing potential clients there to download the free report or article. In this way, your site progresses from being all about you to offering something valuable plus you start to build up your database of future clients.

So, after you’ve introduced yourself and found out a bit about a prospective client, it’s worth asking they liked the article you sent them. If it’s a resounding ‘yes’ you then they are the right kind of clients for you and you can get their contact details ready for following up.

Step 3: Follow Up

Following up is so important. You can’t just sit back and wait for people to take action because invariably they don’t. It’s not necessarily because they don’t want to, but life often gets in the way and you as a stranger may not be at the top of their priority list.

It’s your job to follow up – not to ask for a sale, but to offer further information and value. You see how they found your article and get their feedback and answer any questions it raised for them. If you’ve made a good connection with these individuals during your first meeting and through your article, then they’ll generally be happy to speak with you.

You don’t have to give away free training sessions at this point. Rather, you’re holding a form of consultation to get to know them better, to find out more about their situation and what their challenges are.

It's important that a personal trainer follows up with clients

This conversation might lead quite naturally into a sales conversation because some people are ready to take action and make buying decisions more easily. But they may not be ready yet. If during this conversation, you establish that they really are the right kind of client for you, then you might want to give them the opportunity to experience your service.

You could offer them an initial personal training consultation which, if they agree, will then become your sales opportunity. Pitch the consultation as an opportunity to answer the questions the individual has so that it’s providing them with additional value. Those who are serious about doing the thing they say they want to do will be the ones who’ll take this small step towards actually getting started.

Step 4: Convert Your Prospect into a Paying Client

By this stage, these people are no longer strangers. They are getting familiar with you and with what you do. They are getting a good sense of whether you’re the right person for them to work with. This sales conversation then becomes about helping them to focus on their goal and on the benefits achieving this goal will bring. It’s about getting them firmly connected with their goal and associating the achievement of that goal with you.

personal trainers have to be good at converting prospects into clients

There is no need for hard selling here. You have a relationship with this person so now it’s about asking good questions so that your prospect can think about what they want to achieve.

Be clear about what you’re offering – What is your programme? What are the options? Again, if you know the kind of clients you want to work with, you can tailor your offers and your programmes to meet your market. If you’ve done this effectively, then the numbers of clients saying ‘yes’ will grow.

Step five is the most important and in fact, it makes the previous four steps incredibly difficult if the below isn’t followed.

Step 5: Make Key Decisions About Your PT Business

Decide who you want to work with. The more specific you can be about this the better – this is your target market.

Decide exactly what you want to do with this target market, the service you want to offer, what you want to focus on. It’s more specific than just offering personal training services. This is your niche.

Decide exactly who your ideal clients are. Within your target market, there will be a whole range of individuals with different character traits and qualities. Who is right for you? What kind of person will get the best results from working with you and will bring out the best in you?

If you can make these decisions about your PT business early on, you’ll find that you’re able to follow through on your marketing with relative ease. You’ll know where to find them, how to communicate with them. You’ll be able to research and get to know your target market in depth which will increase your ability to provide real value.

Making these decisions as a personal trainer can make the difference between an empty diary and a steady stream of clients who are perfect for you.

If you want to know more about establishing a niche and finding success in your PT business, read our guide on attracting and retaining personal training clients.

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