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Sales Leadership

Getting Back to the Basics

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Gary PolicGary Polic

Close your club, open your club, close your club again... This has been a pandemic roller coaster of uncertainty for thousands of facilities in our industry, affecting millions of people who work in and utilize our industry's services. Finally, some real hope has arrived in the form of multiple vaccines. We all hope the kinks in the distribution of the vaccine will be worked out as soon as possible, because the sooner the people who want the vaccine actually receive it, the better it is for our industry.

Because of these optimistic changes, it is time to switch gears related to sales expectations, along with continuing the strong drive for customer service and cleanliness. We are literally on the cusp of people coming out of hiding and joining clubs again! Many of us naturally have worked on retention during this pandemic. Now, we need to gear up our sales teams and give them the tools they need to WIN again!

Is It Time to Gear Up?

Regarding Sales Leadership in your clubs, I have a question: Realistically, is it time to gear up and get back to the basics of selling?

I hope your immediate answer is an unequivocal YES!

The reason I ask this question is because, as a Sales Leader, you must pivot from where we are in this pandemic being told to slow down and wait it out, to the realization that the time is NOW! Now is the time to win again and get back to the Basics of Selling.

The Basics of Selling I am referring to are:

  1. 1. The MINDSET of the Sales Manager and their Team.
  2. 2. GM/Sales Manager LEADING FROM THE FRONT LINES.
  3. 3. ESTABLISHING LEAD GENERATION ACTIVITY STANDARDS.
  4. 4. COACHING-UP results and the ACCOUNTABLILITY factor to raising the bar.

MINDSET

An oldie but goodie: Steven Covey in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about performing a Paradigm Shift and creating a new Mission Statement in the area of changing one's belief or conviction. Case and point, there needs to be a collective meeting of the minds, and through discussion and final agreement, the creation of a New Mission Statement in the Sales Department.

For Example: Dealing with a pandemic is no longer a valid excuse. Yes, that is right; you read that correctly! On average, clubs are selling 40 - 75% of their pre-pandemic sales. Some are doing much worse, and some are doing much better than these stated numbers. However, until the mindset of "WE CAN AND WE WILL WIN TODAY" becomes adopted, no one really knows to what heights one can soar.

Yes, our mindsets have been changed since the pandemic! I am sure we would all agree to that. And, we can safely say that, with the vaccine being distributed and the CDC regulations and restrictions being lightened up in many instances, NOW is time to shift gears. And, that question was perfectly stated by Winston Churchill during World War II, when he said, "If not now... when?"

Yes, the pandemic is real, and times are tough for all of us in business. So, I am not downplaying that reality. Cleanliness and Customer Service must ALWAYS take the lead in all our business goals and advancements moving forward. But, considering fitness is one way of combating the pandemic, it is time to gear up and SELL, SELL, SELL again! We owe it to our communities to, "preach it from the mountain top," that we have the solution to combat this pandemic! It's time to be proactive again, not just reactive!

Here is plain and simple advice for your Sales Team...

"94% of people say they plan to return to their gym in some capacity." - IHRSA

"Physical activity improves immunity, decreases inflammation and decreases viral respiratory infections that are apparent in COVID-19 sufferers. The key, however, is the muscles must be used for this to happen." - Professor Anne R. Lindsay

"We all understand that exercise supports our physical health. However, during times of crisis such as COVID-19, it is the first activity we tend to ignore. Being active can not only keep us healthy, but it can also help fight off infection," Anita Hobson-Powell, Accredited Exercise Physiologist and CEO of Exercise & Sports Science Australia

With these observations in mind, we should be excited and optimistic about the future, and the future of selling new memberships to help people stay healthy is now! It is our obligation in the fitness industry.

LEADING FROM THE FRONT LINES

Are you listening to positive motivation videos everyday to start your day? A colleague of mine, Jason Hardin, GM of a premier, upscale chain Athletic Club in the Midwest does, and his club went from Ground Zero and shut down to the number one club in the company! Jason's primary responsibility isn't the frontline sales at his club; however, Jason decided to lead by example from the frontlines in sales by jumping in with his team. Not for a day or two but for months until they are back to full usage! Hmmm... I do not wonder why his club consistently hits their numbers and why his team is having so much FUN!

I would be remiss if I also did not note that Jason's awesome Sales Manager is David Smuckler. David is the consummate prospector, a true hunter! There is no slowing David down. He is determined to bring health and wellness to his community in order to fight the pandemic! The apple does not fall far from the tree, does it? As Jason would say, "Speed of the Captain... Speed of the Crew!"

ESTABLISHING LEAD GENERATION ACTIVITY STANDARDS

Obviously, we all have a database of active, frozen and cancelled members to call on. However, on the other hand, calling on a dead database of past guests in your CRM over several years is not what I would call a good use of your time. What would I recommend you do instead? Activity that generates new leads!

Five new lead prospecting activities that need to be focused on daily and specific key points to consider for each to follow. In future articles, I will address the Steps to Success of each in more detail. They are:

  1. 1. POS Referral Presentation;
  2. 2. Member Surveys;
  3. 3. Local Merchant Partnerships;
  4. 4. Corporate, Group and Associations;
  5. 5. Tabling and Internal Sales Promotions.

POS Referral Presentation: Make the referral presentation at the POS part of the paperwork process. Immediately after the new member hands you his credit card and picture I.D., place the referral sheet in front of them and make your value proposition. Check out this stat: 91% of customers say they would give referrals, but only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals! Referrals result in appointments 80% of the time, compared to 2% of the cold calls made! Source: Buzz Builder.

Member Surveys: Meeting and Greeting your members is one of the single most important ways you can perform a "sincere service act" with your members. Asking the right questions is critical. Questions such as, "If there was one thing you would like to change regarding your fitness results, what would that be?" and the Ultimate Question from Net Promoter Score, "Have you ever or would you recommend a friend, neighbor or colleague to the club? Who's the first person that comes to mind?"

Local Merchant Partnerships: This is your ace in the hole! The local merchants in your community are primed and ready to do business with their fellow business owners. Therefore, cross-promotion opportunities are hot and ready to close. One neat thing to consider is that 80% of the local merchants have a database with an average of 800 customers, and 60% correspond with their database! That means you can piggy-back on that correspondence by supplying the local merchant with a "Gift of Wellness" trial certificate to send to all their customers! That is only the beginning. Stay tuned for more!

Corporate, Group and Associations: In your POS Referral Presentation and during your Member Surveys, you should be asking, "Where do you work, socialize or worship?" Why? Because we need to THINK BIG when prospecting. Sure, one and two referrals are important, but large groups of people are even better! Examples could be a men's or women's hockey leagues or a place the member tithes their time or money to. Most salespeople never ask for these leads because they are not being tracked daily by sales management! "What gets measured... gets done!" Can you think of anything more important than a corporate, group or association lead to call?

Tabling and Internal Sales Promotions: Inside and outside your club! Inside your club, you should have an item of the month that you are raffling off. It could be an item you bartered with your local merchant. Keep in mind, when you reference "tabling outside your club," you must realize that all your local merchants would love to set up a table in your club, so you should be able to do the same. Always have a separate calendar of "Scheduled Tabling Events" to highlight the importance to your team daily. Make the scheduling front and center for all to see, again bringing forth the importance of lead generation with corporates, groups and associations and the effectiveness of tabling. I know this may be a difficult task to do now due to the pandemic. However, you miss 100% of the shots you do not take, don't you? One of my client's sales reps just got to set up in a huge retail grocery store! Take the shot!

COACHING-UP and ACCOUNTABILITY

Well, here is where we separate the WINNERS from the losers. You may think that is harsh, but that is leadership. The two big questions I need to ask you here are:

  1. 1. Are you coaching-up your people "LIVE" on a "Daily Consistent" basis?
  2. 2. Are you holding them accountable to the new established daily standards?

Lombardi defined LEADERSHIP as, "the ability to inspire others to follow." With that being said, please take note of a True Lombardi Leader in Regional Director, East for Wellbridge, Greg McCarthy. Greg has daily zoom calls with his team of General Managers and Sales Teams on the east coast. All I can say is you'd have to be on the call to experience his true inspirational leadership.

Greg creates the mindset of fun and competition on each and every morning call with his team. Greg implements videos, role-playing, accountability to the numbers and the FUN FACTOR. I've never seen a group of General Managers so engaged and excited to start their day. You would have to see it to believe it. The key here is the FUN FACTOR!

Regarding Coaching-Up, I have found that, if you have a clear set of tasks laid out every two hours with what I would call a "Check-in" or "Sideline Huddle," after the two hours, you will be more effective as a leader to help develop your people. We are all creatures of habit; therefore, have your sales team check in every two hours with the Sales Manager. In this way, you give them the opportunity to develop strong time management skills/habits of performing at a higher level and doing the things that are most important for them to do at any given time during their day.

As far as Accountability, this is where most Sales Managers miss the shot. It's tricky. Why? Because people respond better to motivation than fear. And, with that said, everyone of your salespeople has a "burning desire" to achieve or accomplish something so they can reward themselves. Yes, that is right. I am sure your salespeople love the company and you as their Sales Manager. However, I hate to break it to you, they are In It to Win It for themselves! That is right! It's your salespeople's favorite FM radio station: W.I.F.M., and it stands for:

  • What's
  • In It
  • For
  • Me

The secret to getting your sales team responding positively to being held accountable is to know their personal goals regarding WHY they work so hard and WHAT specific financial goals they have. Examples could be to purchase a new car, condo or house; pay off debt; go on vacation or get engaged.

Bottom Line: And, here is the KPI, you as the Sales Manager need to sit down with your salespeople individually and have each come prepared with his W.I.F.M. GOALS. In the meeting, you need to break down the additional activity each must perform each month to reach the dollar amount he needs to make in reference to his goals. It could be a short-term or long-term goal, preferably short-term.

Example:

  • Let's make it easy. Let's say that, after they pay all their bills, they would like to make an additional $1,000 per month.
  • Let's also say that every sale is worth $100, so that leaves ten more sales a month than what they would usually sell to make the additional $1000.
  • Let's now break down the numbers to a 50% ratio for each level as explained below. Note: In reality, use their real ratios to bring light to those real ratios.

So here is the breakdown:

10 sales = 20 shows = 40 appointments = 80 contacts made = 160 calls out = 320 quality leads generated

Now, break down the numbers into number of days worked in the month to get their "additional daily activity number" to reach in order to hit their WIFM GOALS!

As you hold your salespeople accountable to what they told you they desired, the onus is on them. All you are doing (just like when you sell) is taking them back to what they told you about their goals, and that will give them the burning desire they need to accomplish them!

So again, I ask you, "IS IT TIME TO GEAR UP?" I believe so!

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