For their health and wellness needs, today’s consumers prefer to visit more than one yoga, fitness, dance, or pilates studio. Due to this it has become challenging to sell memberships as the preference is to purchase class-packs or use fitness aggregators (ClassPass) to attend several classes at a highly discounted price across studios and gyms.
Due to this, fitness and yoga professionals see a significant decline in the sale of memberships. However, knowing how to sell memberships can help you rise above the noise and build your business primarily on long term membership sales.
To sell memberships consistently, know the critical challenges faced by your target market. Have clear differentiators for your service that set you apart from the competition. Then position your membership as the bridge between your client’s current and desired state.
In this ultimate guide, I will give you a 10-step process you can use to sell high priced yearly or biannual memberships consistently. You can use this process to sell gym memberships, and high priced recurring memberships to yoga studios, and fitness studios.
I will outline the process, strategy, and techniques used by successful gym sales teams. These are the same techniques used to sell high priced services and prevent your services from becoming a commodity.
10 Step Guide To Sell Memberships For Yoga, Fitness & Wellness Professionals
If you own a yoga or fitness studio or are yoga, dance, pilates, or fitness instructor, you would have seen the transition of consumer spending away from long term memberships to pick-and-choose class packs.
Although class-packs are great for consumers, this is not good news for studios or gyms. Around 20 years ago, the biggest revolution in the fitness industry was the widespread adoption of long-term memberships. This trend gave rise to the gym sales teams.
Memberships ensured that the studios or gyms had steady, predictable revenue. However, in today’s world, long term (yearly or biannual) memberships to fitness studios and gyms make up only a small portion of sales.
Consumers have spoken and prefer class-packs to long term contracts. However, yoga, fitness, and dance professionals who know how to sell memberships continue to have a steady clientele happily enrolled in long term membership contracts.
Here is a proven 10-step process to help you sell more memberships and establish loyal clients who would not venture into any other fitness/wellness studio or gym.
Know Your Target Market
Before you begin to sell memberships, you have to do the groundwork. You need to know the details and specifics about your target market.
I have written a detailed guide on building a brand that covers how to identify your niche, define your target market, and build your brand. Review the article to get a step-by-step approach to knowing your target market.
Having clarity about your target market helps you build a strategy for selling your services. It helps answer critical questions such as:
- Where to find members of your target market
- Why do they use services similar to yours
- What is their demographic (age range, income level, etc.)
If you are an instructor or teacher at a studio or gym, charged with selling memberships, your first step should be to ask the studio/gym owner to define their target clients clearly.
If no one has done the work to identify the target market, spend the next few weeks observing and interacting with the members of the facility. Understand why they choose to go to this facility and what they are trying to achieve.
At the end of this step, you should have clearly defined persons who represent your ideal customers. Build 4-5 persons who will serve as your ideal customers. Once you create the personas, understanding the challenges such people face, and how you can help them become readily evident.
Example Persona. Sally is 25-years old and works in marketing at a technology company. She spends 8-10 hours at work every day during the week and visits OM Yoga in the mornings. Sally leads a healthy life, often going on hiking trips on the weekends. Sally is single and spends most of her time at work. Her hobbies include reading science fiction and volunteering at the local shelter.
Articulate The Value Your Membership Brings
Now that you know who exactly you are selling to, you will begin building your sales materials and plan. The first step in the process is to identify what you offer and then link it to the value you deliver to your clients.
Consider the scenario where a person is buying a drill. The truth is that the person is purchasing the ability to make holes. If we expand this further, the person is paying for the ability to hang picture frames and ornaments in their home.
As you go about listing what you offer, expand it further to specify the value your client will get from the perceived benefit of your offer.
|Your Offer||Benefit||Value To your Clients|
|Your yoga studio is in a downtown location||The studio will be easily accessible to your clients||Your clients will save 30 minutes every day on commute by choosing your yoga studio|
|You have the most experienced trainers and teachers in the city||The quality of training will be better than any other facility in the city||Your team will help your clients achieve their goals in half the time and significantly reduce the risk of any injury|
|You provide a protein and juice bar on-site||Your members can purchase healthy drinks before or after their workouts||Clients will be able to push harder and achieve their goals 2x faster by fuelling up with carefully designed performance drinks|
|You provide a unique experience that combines boxing, spin, and free weights||The training session will be diverse and will never get boring||The experience will be fun for the client and something that they look forward to. They don’t have to rely on motivation to show up to class every day.|
|You provide online bookings, online class reservations and post-class schedules online||Clients can self-serve||Clients have a consumer-grade experience that they are used to. They don’t have to call the studio to cancel or manage waitlists, etc. They have an Amazon-like experience|
Similar to the above, create an exhaustive list of all the benefits you offer and then write down the value your members will get from those offers. Ensure that the benefits are particular to the membership options you want to sell and not generic to your studio or gym. Think about the benefits that only a long term membership to your facility could deliver.
Keep this document handy as you will soon use the points listed in this document in your sales pitch.
List The Problems Your Membership Helps Solve
The reason for the existence of your studio or gym is to help solve problems your clients are facing. Now you will list down the entire universe of the challenges you help your clients solve.
Doing so will give you clarity on who you can help and who you cannot. This step is crucial because you will only be able to sell memberships to people who you can genuinely help.
For example, you could be helping your clients with the following challenges:
- Lose weight
- Recover after surgery
- Reduce stress
- Stay healthy
Once you have the entire universe of problems, you can help with, if your clients purchase your membership, then list down what happens if your clients are unable to solve those challenges.
Finally, also list down the perceived reasons why a client cannot solve the problem listed. The table below gives you specific examples.
Bridge Between The Problem & Solution
|Problem||If The Problem Is Not Solved||Obstacles To Solving The Problem|
|Lose Weight||Obesity and higher mortality rate||No single method or training that works|
|Reduce Stress||Stress is linked to higher rates of heart disease and other fatal diseases||Unaware of the dangers of stress and unable to identify chronic stress|
|Stay Healthy||Gradual deterioration of lifestyle and age poorly||Clients do not care as this problem is in the future and not today|
|Limited social interactions||Poor quality of life||Not aware that going to the gym or studio regularly opens up a new social network|
|Improve performance||Not able to be the best in all areas of life||No experience forming a connection between being in peak shape to achievements in other areas of life|
Now, you have a clear understanding of the problems you can help with, and you also understand why your clients are unable to solve these challenges. Your goal is to position your membership as the bridge between the problem your clients face and their goals.
This knowledge gives you the starting point to build your sales pitch. You will be able to recognize the problems your clients come to you with, and you will be able to articulate how you can help them and why they have not been able to help themselves.
You would have head about Drew Manning, the trainer who put on and lost 70 pounds in 1 year so that he could understand the challenges his clients faced. Drew is extraordinarily successful just because he went that extra mile to understand the challenges his clients faced.
Conduct A Thorough Client Discovery
You know your target market, you understand the challenges you help your clients solve, and you also know your key differentiators and link them to values. You have laid the groundwork, and now its time to sell your memberships.
Like most fitness/yoga studios and gyms, you would also be offering class-packs and discounted class visits. However, now it’s time to focus on selling long term memberships that ensure stability in income.
The client discovery stage is when a person walks into your studio/gym or calls you to learn more about your services. It could also be when you are speaking to a member who only purchases punch passes and visits occasionally.
Unlike other people who sell memberships who immediately start showing the person the facility and packages, you will first begin by asking questions.
Your goal is to understand why the person wants to use your services. What problems are they trying to solve and why your memberships can help them.
Some of the questions you can ask:
- What are you trying to achieve (lose weight, stay healthy, etc.)?
- What prompted you to take action (perhaps an upcoming wedding, etc.)?
- By when do you want to achieve your goal?
- What happens if you are not able to achieve the goal by your deadline?
Once you clearly understand the client’s needs, you are in a strong position to sell them a long term membership as opposed to the person just purchasing punch passes and visiting your facility occasionally.
Tying the long term use of your service to the achievement of the person’s goal will naturally shift the purchase to a long term membership contract.
Qualify The Client
One of the critical aspects of selling fitness, yoga, or gym memberships is to sell the memberships to people who need them. The worst thing you can do for your business is to push memberships on to everyone and damage your reputation.
One of the purposes of a “discovery” session is to find out the needs of your client and whether you can solve their problems and help them achieve their goals.
For example, consider a situation where membership to your gym or fitness studio helps athletes train and compete for professional competitions. Now an overweight person who rarely exercises comes to you and asks for your help to lose weight. Will selling a membership to your training help this person?
Be strict in your qualification and only select people who you can genuinely help. Having strict qualifying criteria also attracts the right people, and they will be more open to purchasing long-term membership contracts.
Qualifying clients is not just good for business but also separates you from the thousands of trainers who try to sell gym memberships to anyone that walks into their facility.
Pitch Only 3 Key Differentiators Of Your Memberships
There is a limit to the amount of information someone can assimilate and retain. When you are selling a membership, your prospect would have heard the same messaging and talking points in another gym, fitness studio, or yoga studio. Gym sales training often fails to teach differentiation tactics.
In step 2 of this guide, you would have created a list of benefits and values that your clients receive if they purchase your membership. After you have spoken to the prospect and identified their key challenges, you need to pick 3 to 4 aspects you offer that will solve the prospect’s needs.
For example, if a prospect is looking to join a fitness studio in the downtown area and is having trouble eating healthy, you can pitch your location benefits and your service for members providing healthy salads and smoothies on site.
Tie the benefits of membership to the achievement of the goals of the prospect. Your job, in this instance, is to make the explicit connection between your membership and what the person wants to achieve.
After meeting with you, the prospect should walk away and be able to recount all the three differentiating factors that you mentioned. They should know precisely how those three benefits of your membership will help them achieve their goal. At this point, you are 90% there with the sale.
Use Case Studies And Free Trial Days
You should typically have stories about helping people achieve their fitness goals who were in a similar situation as your prospect. You should have 10-15 case studies with results and be able to highlight the best case study depending on the situation of the prospect.
At this stage, your aim should be to help the prospect understand that you have delivered similar results to what the person desires. You should also allow the prospect to “try” out your membership for free. Give them a day pass to try your fitness or yoga classes allowing them to speak to other long term members.
At this stage, also highlight that to achieve the results, a long term commitment is needed. Position a long term membership as a way to remain accountable.
Be ready to handle typical objections that might arise. For example:
Q. I prefer not to be tied into memberships and will purchase punch passes as and when needed?
If we are working together to help you achieve the results you want, then a 6-12 month membership will keep you accountable. The transformation you are after requires 6-12 months of consistent effort. Besides, purchasing a rolling membership is 20% cheaper than buying punch passes for the same period.
Q. I use ClassPass, and I see that I can attend classes weekly with my ClassPass subscription, so I don’t need to purchase your membership.
We open up our classes to ClassPass only if we have space available. Our memberships give you a preference to reserve classes and not miss any classes in the program. ClassPass is for individual classes and not an entire series of classes that are part of our membership option.
Paint A Before And After Picture
When you are conveying your differentiators and showing the client that your membership option is the best choice for them, you should also paint a picture of what is possible.
Show them what they can achieve and highlight what will happen if they do not buy the membership. Using before and after pictures and testimonials of past clients is very helpful for this purpose.
Clearly show the prospect where they are today and where they can reach by a specified period (6-12 months). You can do this by measuring the goal they are trying to achieve and providing the target they will achieve by joining your studio or gym.
For example, if a person wants to lose weight, you can link the weight loss to the work put in during their membership. You could show how you can help them lose 20 pounds in some months.
Also, paint a picture of what will happen if they choose to do nothing. Most likely, the prospect will continue to put on weight and lead an unhealthy lifestyle.
Showing both the positives of taking action and the negatives of no action has a strong impact during the sales process and forces the prospect to take action for their benefit.
Set Up A Drip Campaign
Sometimes you will have clients signing up for the membership on the spot. However, it is most likely that they will need some time to make a decision, especially if the membership price is substantial.
They will most likely visit other studios and gyms during the time they are taking to make a decision. If the salesperson selling the membership has not done an excellent job at this stage, the prospect will most likely decide on price. You need to be on top of mind and prevent your membership from being perceived as a commodity.
At this stage, drip campaigns can do the selling for you. You can use StudioGrowth to automate the whole process. Before the prospect leaves your facility, you can collect the prospect’s email id and phone number in StudioGrowth.
The prospect automatically gets added to a drip sequence. The drip sequence is setup based on tried and tested email templates that have a high conversion rate. However, you do have the ability to change the cadence and content of the campaign.
A typical drip campaign sends a series of emails and SMS messages to the prospect over the next 3-7 days. The emails and SMS messages contain valuable content such as case studies and helpful articles designed to make the prospect take action and sign up for your membership.
The sequence ends by offering a limited-time incentive such as a discount or a series of private sessions included with the membership. The conversion rates are very high at this stage.
Don’t ignore the power of drip campaigns to sell for you. If you never have set up or used drip campaigns, use StudioGrowth, which comes with pre-built templates and sequences. It is the ultimate plug-and-play studio management system, do give it a try.
Track Metrics To Assess Progress
If you have followed the steps outlined in this guide, there is a higher than average probability of you consistently selling memberships to your clients.
- Understanding the target market
- Articulating your differentiators
- Having clarity around the problems, you help solve
- Conducting a thorough discovery
- Qualifying the prospect
- Pitching not more than three key differentiators
- Proving you can help the prospect achieve their goal
- Visualizing the before and after for the prospect
- Setting up a closing drip campaign
However, selling memberships is also directly tied to you being able to help your clients achieve their goals. You need to fulfill the promise you made to your clients.
Once you have a client in a long term membership, make sure you are regularly tracking progress by measuring the relevant metrics. For example, If your client joined your studio to shape up, then measure body weight and BMI regularly.
Show the client that you are helping them achieve their goals. Don’t rely on the client to “see” the results. You must show them facts and have them verbalize that your membership has helped them achieve their goals.
If your goal is to sell high priced memberships, then word of mouth and referrals will eventually become your primary source of leads. Remember, people have options. They don’t need to pay $300/month for membership to your yoga studio, fitness studio, dance studio, pilates studio, or gym. They can go to the studio next door for $20/class. Always focus on delivering tangible results.
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About the author
Naz Ahm is the founder of StudioGrowth and has spent a decade growing start-ups and venture-backed companies. He writes about sales, marketing, and growth, especially in the yoga, fitness and wellness industry.
Naz has an MBA from IESE Business School and started his journey in the wellness industry when he set-up an on-demand wellness business. Naz currently resides in London, U.K.