Bring out the Big Guns! Commercial Skills for Personal Trainers


Bring out the Big Guns! Commercial Help for Personal Trainers.

Selling has a bad reputation in this country. When we think of sales people, images of the sterotypical double-glazing or second hand car salesman springs to mind. In reality, whilst these types of sales professional exist, the majority of them are just like you and I. Hardworking and generally very nice people.

When people work in a technically skilled profession such as personal training, for example, it is often overlooked that these roles demand you to be a salesperson. Think about it, is the success of the business measured on the amount of money generated? Do you have to meet with clients, ask them questions and match your services to their needs in the hope that they will use you? At any point do you ask the client to sign up to any contract or paper work? Well if the answer to any of those questions is yes, then you sell.

Let me focus on Personal Training. I have been lucky enough to have a number of personal trainers in my time not only as trainers but as clients to me, and quite frankly they are nothing short of dedicated and quite wonderful people, with levels of motivation that would leave most people in the shade, and discipline that automatically assumes them as role models. There is something missing though. That something is commercial nous. They are not trained to sell. During much of their training to become trainers, they have the technical training, and some business skills training but very little in the way of sales training. This is where I step in.

  • How can I help Personal Trainers think more commercially?
  • How can I help Personal Trainers get more clients?
  • How can Personal Trainers understand their clients a bit better?
  • How can Personal Trainers use client Testimonials to better effect?

The Clients Perspective

If we look at your average gym, there will always be Personal Trainers walking around, engaging with gym members. Some of these trainers are more assertive than others in scouting for business, others can be very aggressive and some are very passive in their approach. As a member of my local gym I see this going on, although where I am there are no aggressive sales tactics in play, which is a good thing.

A gym member uses a gym for many different reasons; some of these may not be as obvious as you first think.

  • To get fit, obviously. What is their motivation? To be thinner, leaner, stronger, bigger, and based on what? Is it vanity or a social engagement like a wedding, peer pressure or medical? Does insecurity play a role or ego perhaps?
  • To relax. Some people use a gym as way of relaxing, strange really as you end up exhausted and sweaty!
  • To socialise. Gyms are a great social meeting place, and often groups of friends will work out together at a gym. It is a fantastic motivator for some people to do this.
  • To simply be with ones self. A gym can be a place of sanctuary, a place to escape to, a place to gather thoughts and recharge. Often couples will go to separate gyms, as it is a chance to have a bit of space.

Personal training is without doubt a high-end luxury purchase, and some people like to show off the fact that they have a personal trainer. However, more and more the personal trainer is keen to promote their services as something of a lifestyle choice, therefore enabling their clients to maintain the results that they have achieved with the continued support of the trainer. Well that is the ideal outcome anyway. This might work with the affluent client, who can afford it, but for the average person, it is about getting results and fast, and this is where the personal trainer might need to think about a slightly different business model. Making themselves redundant. I will let that sink in for a minute. OK you back? Let me explain. When a client engages a personal trainer for any of the reasons I have listed above, quite often is about an end result. If these results are achieved, then the client will then, either continue with the service or they will cease. It is this last point that we need to focus on. If a personal trainer can get a client to place where they are happy with the results either bigger, stronger, leaner, thinner etc. and then step away, then by the law of averages, many clients will revert back to their old ways and let things slip. Mmmm. Chips and chocolate! Not everyone, but some. These people may then want to get back what they have lost, and their first choice will be the personal trainer who got them to their goal, hence the repeat business. As the saying goes, you can sell to anyone once, getting them to come back for more is true sales skills.

Of the personal trainers I have trained in sales, few of them have thought about this way of trading as a complimentary method to the training people for longevity. It is definitely worth considering.

A Word About Advocacy

Personal Trainers need word of mouth, and it will help to generate more business. Using social media like LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram can really push things, especially when these are linked to blogs and websites.

WordPress is particularly good, I have mine on it, and when a blog is posted there is the option to publicise it through social media, therefore pushing the message to masses. Think back to how you have found this blog, Twitter, Linked In…?

When posting a blog try to ask questions in your blog so that these will show up in a search on Google. E.g. “How does personal training work?”

“How long does it take to get a six pack?”

Personal trainers might choose to embrace this and segment advocacy and client feedback into sectors of relevance and expertise. So if a client is researching a personal trainer and they happen upon their website, a section outlining client feedback is essential. On this section, there should be a breakdown of client types; those who wanted to get thinner, leaner, stronger, bigger and healthier, with testimonials and advocacy listed under the relevant heading. A photo helps, a video even more, and videos should be hosted on YouTube, it is something like the second largest search engine, so when it comes to being found, get on it!

Personal trainers should try to get their clients to do testimonials for them, creating a template for the client to complete will help to steer the feedback into a more constructive direction. An example would be “Please tell me a little about how I maintained your motivation during our time together?” This will generate qualitative information. Finally always ask the client if they are happy to be quoted on any promotional activity.

Running your own business as a personal trainer requires many of the things you expect of client; determination, motivation, self-discipline and commitment, oh a commercial mind! By taking into account some of these points of views a personal trainer can and will be more successful.

Thanks for reading this blog, it forms part of a training journey written especially for the Personal Trainer who wants to run an effective and commercial business for themselves. If you are a Personal Trainer or a gym looking for team training sessions and would like some help and development, why not drop me Simon Hares an email at and we can set something up.

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