Sales Isn’t a Bad Word
In the gym industry, we often try to disguise the fact that we are selling gym memberships by calling our sales associates “membership consultants”, “membership advisors”, or “fitness specialists.”
We sit next to the prospect instead of across from them to simulate a less formal experience. We use terms such as “guest membership” and “club experience” in lieu of “free guest pass”
and “club tour”. George Orwell’s 1984 alludes to this exercise with his notion of doublespeak, whereby reality can be controlled with language. Linguistic Anthropologists maintain that language
codifies the way we perceive our reality. For example, the Navajo don’t have a way to describe things that happened in the past or the future. Therefore, their experience of the time and space is
that of a continuum, in singularity. The Inuit (Eskimo) have over 50 words for “snow,” therefore they experience snow in a deep and meaningful way. The conditions of the snow could be the
difference between life and death, so their survival is beholden to that of the snow. Americans have over 13 words for one type of sandwich; hoagie, submarine, hero, coney, grinder, etc,
so you can imagine what that tells us about our priorities.
At the end of the day, the intent of the sales department is to drive membership revenue by selling memberships and to shy away from that would be a departure from the most robust
profit center in our business. In developing our sales staff, we embrace the notion that we are indeed selling an invaluable commodity; health and wellness. Once we concede that “sales”
is not a bad word, we can move on to becoming Sales Wizards. In our experience, the most effective sales pitch is one that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch at all. With complete confidence
in your product, the sales presentation simply becomes a recommendation. Our experience shows us that a recommendation is much more psychologically palatable than a “hard close.”
At Powerhouse Gym, we employ sales pedagogies which focus on vernacular, body language, and tone. We know that once the prospect is presented a price, non-verbal
communication and body language become more important than verbal communication. Sometimes, a prospect will get hung up on the price sheet. We train our sales team to think
about the price sheet as a means for the prospect to achieve their goals. The price sheet is not a barrier, it is a conduit which allows them to access their transformation.
When a prospect shows up for an appointment, we always prefer to begin the interaction with a “yes.”
[Sales Associate] “Hi, are you John?”
[Sales Associate] “Beautiful day today, right?”
[Sales Associate] “Was it easy to park and find the space?”
By beginning the interaction with a “yes,” we condition the prospect to being positive and in agreeance. The hope is that the prospect will also say yes when presented
the offer. What we’ve discovered, through trial and error, is that prospects respond to the syntax of a sales presentation. Instead of “cancelling” an appointment, we
prefer to “reschedule,” which connotes a sense of positivity and hope. We train our staff to think about the sale in terms of “opening a relationship” not “closing a deal.”
In conclusion, sales is not a dirty word. It’s just a word. The selection of words we chose during a pitch can inform the outcome of the sales presentation and
what we don’t say is just as important as what we do say.
Clayton Flotz is an Associate at Lansing Melbourne Group responsible for project management and execution. LMG was formed in 2003 in response to the partners’ desire to provide detailed, creative products and solutions for our clients in an intimate and manageable environment. As a small firm, our team has a direct hands-on impact on every project and with every client. For nearly 30 years our co-founders have been actively involved in setting policies and guidelines in the planning and parking industry.