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By Shannon Fable

Keeping your sales funnel primed with new prospects is important for long-term success in the fitness industry. But, we have a problem. We’ve only been taught a few ways to get in front of new prospects and how we’ve been taught to ‘pick up’ clients is antiquated. What’s worse is the strategies many trainers are using may be eradicating trust in fitness professionals, which makes your job even harder! It’s time to change the narrative to increase and diversify our clientele!

Trust is the cornerstone of sales and marketing. So, what is it? It’s more than saying ‘trust me’ and assuming your credentials say it all. Here’s a formula from The Trusted Advisor, by David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford:

I think we can agree, displaying the ingredients by walking up to someone on the workout floor one time or meeting up with a potential client in a fitness consultation for an hour is just not possible. It might take longer than that. Couple the need for an extended timeline with the fact that each of these ingredients is very personal and based on everyone’s unique reality, and you’ll start to understand why we need more touch points and different ways to show prospects what we can do.

Trust is crucial because we make purchases proportionate to the amount of trust we have in a person or a product. If you can build a sales process that allows you to successfully build trust over time you can systematically increase the money you ask for and how long your clients will stay. We need to reframe and rethink how we expose potential clients to what we have to offer. We must think about the long game. I always say, turn the focus to “crock potting” clients instead of “microwaving” them!

So, how can you build trust over time? Simple; provide lots of options for people to learn about you, try your services, and invest in working with you. These options need to work together versus simply existing together like a vending machine. All options must exist on a continuum of risk and investment. In other words, from free to premium price, from easy to more challenging to access. Keep in mind, the perfect sales cycle doesn’t mean a client must start at the bottom and work his way up to your highest priced or highest risk offer. And, the lesser risk or lesser priced items shouldn’t be used just as a drop sale or the consultation prize! All things you offer are of equal value, just delivered in a different way. The Sales Cycle Concept provides lots of places where people can jump in and jump out over weeks, months, or even years. (For more information on the Sales Cycle I’m describing, you’ll want to read Book Yourself Solidby Michael Port.)

Once you’ve built your sales cycle, you’ll need to focus on ways to expose prospects to your options. Self-promotion (or marketing) does not get you clients; it just gets you awareness. But, you need the awareness to start the trust building process. Once they become aware, they check you out and see if you’re worth their time! Then, if the answer is yes, they extend their hand and give you the opportunity to build trust and credibility over time. To get to this point, you must give away information strategically. And, perhaps, give away more than you feel comfortable giving to start the dance.

As you promote yourself and get people into your sales cycle, you’ll want to:

Keep Track – Keep track of what you’ve tried, who you’ve met, where you met them, what you’ve offered, what they’ve tried, and anything else that will make each interaction specific and meaningful. When an offer feels personal, trust goes up.

Keep in Touch – Stay in touch even (and more importantly) when they don’t buy. This is the single most important step in landing long term clients. Most people don’t buy on the first try, but you’ll eventually get the sale if you show up when the timing is right. But, you can’t just ‘pop’ back in … you need to have been there all along offering assistance without expecting anything in return. Score one more in the trust column.

Keep Trying –Every so often, offer something new! You don’t offer each time you talk, but try a 3:1 ratio. Give and connect three times for every one offer you make. This includes your electronic direct outreach and social media strategies, as well as in person. Just casting the net over and over doesn’t ensure you catch fish. You have to lure people by trying in a meaningful way.

Of course, you can continue the fitness consultation (free session) and working the floor. These are age-old ways to build your leads. But, I can guarantee, if you shift your mindset from trying to get married on the first date to how you can just get to coffee and then progress to lunch, drinks, then dinner, you’ll be better off in the end.