We don’t offer complimentary initial assessments at my gym.
I’ve published my rationale for not doing so in the past here. This doesn’t, however, mean that I think less of the businesses who choose to deliver something for free on day one. I realize that there are occasional market forces that dictate the decision (competition), employers who force it upon their personal training team (commercial gyms), and various other factors that come into play.
With this in mind, I want to discuss a strategy you should employ if you find yourself routinely delivering complimentary initial visits to clients who likely do not step into the session with the mindset that they are definitely investing in your services beyond day one.
If I were new to a personal training team there is one thing I would do every single time I introduced a client to my services while working at a gym that guarantees one free consultation as a part of their new membership package...
I’d be deliberate about using what I’d call “aspirational language.”
By aspirational language, I mean that if I know I want to work with someone moving forward, I discuss the future as if it is definitively going to happen. Instead of going through the motions and hoping that my mind-blowing technique instruction seals the deal, I’d consistently say things like:
“I was also intimidated by squats and deadlifts back when I first discovered the weight room. I can’t wait to introduce you to a handful of variations that took me from fearful to excited for lower day during just my first month of consistent training.”
“You really picked this movement up quickly, we’re going to make amazing progress if you continue to be this coachable.”
“I’m excited to introduce you to a variety of training concepts that you’ll be able to take on the road with you during all that work travel you’ve mentioned. Your progress in the coming weeks or months doesn’t need to be limited to only the time you are able to squeeze into your schedule working with me.”
One of the most challenging sales we make at Cressey Sports Performance is transitioning a client from month one to month two, as we do not ask that our clients sign long-term agreements. As a result, we need to keep people engaged with the process while knowing full well that four weeks often isn’t enough to see significant improvements in the weight-room when we’re really just laying the foundation for future success.
Whether he realizes it or not, our Director of Performance, John O’Neil, is a wizard at escalating athlete commitment beyond month one because of the subtle language he uses. I’ll occasionally overhear him saying to an athlete who has just wrapped up a basic set of deadlifts:
“Wait till you see what I’ve got lined up for you next month to build off of this material.”
With that single sentence, he’s got them locked in. What’s he cooking up? Can I see the program now? How do I sign up for month two?
I recently heard Kat Cole, CEO of Focus Brands, say that throughout her career, beginning as early as her teenage years, she made an effort to “make the job bigger than it really is.” She explained that we handle ourselves differently when we genuinely believe the work we do to be impactful.
In this vein, instead of sheepishly asking a client if they intend to stick with us, John carries himself with an air of confidence that says he’s all but certain that we’re moving forward. He believes his suggested course of action to be impactful and appropriate for the athlete, so he confidently discusses it without an existing formal commitment beyond month one in place.
You can apply this methodology in your consultations, too.
In the end, all I’m really asking you to do is practice optimistic tendencies in the language you use with new clients. If you approach every free trial with the mindset that you’re not likely to close, your body language and tone is going to shut that door in your face for you.