Club management expert Jim Thomas is here to give a few tips on how to train and improve your sales staff's skills.
Perhaps you, too, can relate to this situation. The person I'm speaking about is a health club operator of a number of years. As an operator, he follows all of the rules that should lead to success and satisfaction: he invests regularly in new equipment; he maintains his club carefully; and he treats his employees well. Business is fairly good, but he’s dissatisfied because he can't maintain a good sales staff, and, as a result, feels that his club isn't reaching its full potential.
After venting his frustration, he asked me, "What do I have to do to develop and keep a good sales team?"
His question is one of those that we are asked most frequently, and it's not surprising. Having a veteran sales staff that consistently reaches its goals allows a club to maximize membership revenues, and also affords management more time to focus on other concerns. Historically, however, club sales departments have experienced very high employee turnover. But there's no easy answer to this question. Some turnover, unfortunately, is inevitable.
The first step is providing your new salesperson with the proper training. Unfortunately, for many clubs, structured employee training is practically nonexistent; training for new hires is frequently provided "on the job," or, at best, consists of one or two days of tagging along with a manager or salesperson.
Why is it that we let salespeople sell memberships after only a couple of days in the club? National companies put their salespeople through anywhere from two to six weeks of intensive training before letting them talk to a customer? These companies have seen the statistics -- they know that a well-trained worker stays with a job longer than a poorly trained one. That's simply good sense because, when people experience success at their job, they feel better about themselves and the work they do. So it only stands to reason that, if a club wants to keep an employee long-term, it has to provide training that will foster and encourage success.
Contrary to popular belief, training salespeople well doesn't have to be complicated. The key is to provide your people with tools. As I sat listening to his story, I couldn't help but feel his frustration.
Key Ingredients for Successful Sales Training
- Learn to view you sales staff as an asset and not an expense. I always give everyone the same job description in a health club; protect the investment. The best way to protect this investment is to train, train, train. They will either get better or they will get worse, there is no other option.
- Be sure that your sales training is industry specific and not generalized. Give your team proven, ideas, tips and strategies they can use…not some promising theory.
- Be consistent in your sales training. If you have it scheduled for every Tuesday at 11 AM, then be sure and conduct the sales training every Tuesday at 11 AM. Sales training will never be important to your sales staff unless it’s first important to you.
- Be sure to reinforce what you’re training. Nothing will dilute your training quicker than to spend an hour covering a topic and then the sales staff hears nothing about it afterwards.
Jim Thomas is the well-known founder and president of Fitness Management USA, Inc., a management consulting and turnaround firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry.