The secret to never hearing a prospect say, “I’ll think about it and get back to you” again!

When I first opened my gym, I thought I needed to sell new people on the movements we would do, the method we would use to get them as fit as f***.

I developed my own sort of ‘what is fitness’ speech, based on Greg Glassman’s early teachings about CrossFit. And then I passed that on to my coaches, who adopted the speech that went through the 10 general physical skills, and concepts like doing constantly varied, functional movements at high intensity.

People don’t care if they’re going to gain power or stamina. They just want to feel healthier and happier.

It worked really well in that we were able to sell 10-15 personal training sessions before pushing everyone into a group class. People got fit and our business grew.

But it soon became apparent that we were missing something: We were missing the emotional aspect of the process, which we’ve since learned is the most important part. People aren’t sold on the technical movements they will learn; they’re sold on a solution to a real problem that’s causing them emotional pain.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent Breaking Muscle story I wrote that explains how I came to this realization:

“But one client — a woman in her 30s I’ll call Megan (her real name is being withheld for privacy reasons) — completely opened my eyes as to what our training really was and where it missed the mark. What became apparent to me was that selling and delivering a single fitness methodology — one that is most commonly delivered in a group class — is woefully inadequate for addressing the fitness, and more importantly the emotional needs, of the vast percentage of the population. While the majority are not as extreme of an example as Megan, almost everyone over the age of 35 has, at the very least, some kind of a physical limitation.

It was obvious to everyone that Megan was anorexic.

On her first day, I gave her my patented first-day talk. We talked about getting her stronger and getting her a pull-up. She went through personal training and then she started coming to regular group classes.

Megan struggled in group classes because she clearly lacked the energy to get through the workouts. Everyone could see it.

One day, as she tried to change the workout and convince everyone in the class that it was too much, I said to her, “You know, Megan. One day, you’ll go out and eat a burger and fries three hours before class and you’ll be able to finish the workout.”

It was inappropriate. I knew that, but it had reached a boiling over point and that was my way of dealing with it. I had popped the bubble that nobody else had dared pop.

The rest of the class was horrible. Nobody looked at her because they didn’t want to make her more uncomfortable.

She was visibly upset and went over into the corner to work on her ring dips in a thick band. Then the band slipped and smashed her in the face. She burst out crying and ran outside.

I sat down next to her as she bawled.

“I’m anorexic, Craig. And I need help,” she revealed.

I realized at that moment how backward we had been doing things. We had been trained to sell the movements, personal training, group classes, and what we should have been selling was a relationship with a coach. All this time, we had been teaching people our methodology, but what we actually needed to be doing was figuring out what they truly needed to live a healthier, happier life.

That conversation I had with Megan on the bench outside that day needed to happen on Day 1.

This is exactly what our Day 1 introductory session is about today.”


Get that out of your head. Sales don’t need to be that way. It’s not about convincing someone to buy something. It’s a conversation between two people to get to the bottom of something—to discover if you have a solution to their problem. Because that’s why they showed up in the first place: They need help.

(For the record, we don’t use the word sales in the MadLab Group. We use the term enrolment).

To get good at learning how to enroll people, you need to know how to discover their pain—i.e. the real reason they showed up at your door. In other words, it’s the moment Megan told me she was anorexic. And learning how to unlock that pain takes formal training. MadLab Group gym coaches all go through sales training with Greg Mack, a sales expert with almost 30 years experience in the industry.

Mack has taught us to have a very clear intention when it comes to a prospect’s first day. If you currently host a giant bring-a-friend group class workout as your first day, your purpose is to give people a good workout. You’re essentially selling a workout.

Our intention, on the other hand, is to sell a relationship. And it’s pretty tough to forge real relationships in a group class of 25 people. Thus, our first day’s intention is simply to discover if you connect with the client and they connect with you, and then to receive a yes or no answer from them. There’s nothing worse than meeting with someone or an hour only to have them tell you at the end of it, “I’ll think about it and get back to you.”

At the start of the introductory session with a  prospect, our coaches look the person in the eye and tell them that at the end of the 30 minute chat, or hour-long chat (however long it takes to figure out if you’re a match), they need to give you a yes or no answer if they want to start this training with you. It really helps remove the elephant in the room and puts you both in a place of dead honesty.

In case you didn’t pick up on it already, this means a client’s first day needs to be done in a one-on-one environment. There’s no way Megan’s opening up and telling me she’s anorexic during a bring-a-friend group class. And that information is crucial. I couldn’t actually help Megan until she told me that.

More than anything, the first day is about laying the foundation for a trusting, open relationship between a client and a coach, a coach who will truly be able to get the client what he wants in the gym and in life.

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