Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You don’t need a business card to be a personal trainer

You’ve earned your certification and are ready to start training but wait you don’t have a business card. So you think it’s better to wait until you get one before you start looking for clients. In addition you also think you need a website, flyer or brochure and then once you have all those things in place you can start training. Wrong! You don’t need a business card, flyer, brochure or website to get started. You already have everything you need, you.

While all that “stuff” is great, people purchase personal training because of who you are and how you connect with them not because you have a fancy business card. Yes, you do need to give out your contact information and a post-it note probably won’t cut it but this isn’t the reason you should wait to start personal training. Really, the only step you need to take right now is to go out and meet lots of people, connect with them and start building relationships. Ask any trainer who has been in the personal training industry for awhile and they will tell you the same thing. Ninety nine percent of the business they attract is through word of mouth and meeting lots of people.

If there’s so much business to be gained through personal connection then why don’t more trainers do it? It takes effort to pull yourself away from Facebook, Twitter and the internet world and interface with people in the flesh. It’s much easier for trainers to stick up a poster up at a coffee house then it is to attend a networking event. Or to place an ad in the paper and hope the phone starts ringing off the hook. But what most trainers don’t understand is that this is actually the hardest way to find clients. It costs money and you have to break through all the white noise and clutter of other marketing messages that people are constantly bombarded with on a daily basis. An easier way to attract more clients is to connect face-to-face then you have their undivided attention and that’s more effective then posters and ads.

There’s one issue that seems to pop up for trainers when suggesting they get out and meet people and that’s the feeling that they have to sell. For most trainers as soon as you mention the word sell they immediately go into panic mode and say, “Hold on, I’m a trainer, not a sales person, I don’t like to sell”. Yes, I understand the feeling behind that statement however, unless you want to work for free how will you pay the bills? Selling is a natural part of the process of building a client/trainer relationship. After all, personal training is a service, you went to school to become certified and at some point were hoping to make some money from it, right? People know you aren’t going to work for free. They expect they will have to pay something for your time.

But wait, this about how to sell without selling. I have a distance education workshop if you are interested in learning more about that topic.This piece is about connecting with people first and not actually thinking about selling them anything. Use the following steps to get you started.

1) Meet lots of people

2) Connect with them

3) Build the relationship

Step One – Meet lots of people

The idea behind meeting lots of people is to get yourself out there and start connecting . The conversation will naturally gravitate to what you do. If you can clearly articulate what you do people will be interested and likely ask more questions. This isn’t the point where you start a sales pitch. Not at all because for now you are a stranger to that person and it will feel uncomfortable for them to be sold to. Instead your job is to turn that stranger into a friend and if there’s a good fit for your services then down the road you can turn that friend into a customer. Or if not then perhaps one of their friends might be interested.

Step Two – Connect with them

Once you meet and start the conversation your next step is to find a common interest .This is something you already know how to do because you’ve met strangers in the past and took the time to learn more about them. When you meet someone for the first time it’s natural to want to find out more about them. You explore a topic you both have in common so you can keep the conversation going. You see you already know how to do this because you’ve been in these situations hundreds of times. It’s no different when you’re looking to connect with a person with the hope that perhaps they would be a great fit as a client someday.

Good listening skills and the ability to ask questions is really helpful when striking up a conversation. No body likes an over-talker. Someone who dominates the conversation and never lets you say a word. You’re probably already thinking of a person right now who does just that. It’s so frustrating because you just don’t feel equal in the conversation. If you have a tendency to do all the lip flapping you might want to teach yourself how to listen more actively, trust me people appreciate it.

Being genuine in the conversation is important too. People can sniff out fake people from miles away. If you are faking interested, faking listening and are generally just faking trying to connect with a person then it won’t work. Just be yourself and be curious to learn more about the individual you are speaking too.

Step Three – Build the relationship

The beauty of building the relationship is that you aren’t hounding people to make a sale. You’re moving through the progression of meeting a stranger, turning that stranger into a friend and if there’s a good fit perhaps that friend will be a customer . There’s no rush.

Connect with that person often maybe over coffee, lunch or even a walk. Seek to help them in anyway you can and if they are serious about wanting to train with you, offer them a sample session and give them a taste of what you have to offer. Make that experience enjoyable and memorable and they will want more.

When you seek to build a relationship your intent is not to sell but to get to know someone. Your motives should be pure and focussed on making a connection. Take the time to build the relationship and don’t worry about selling.

The process I’m discussing doesn’t require a business card, brochure, flyer or website. Those things are nice to have. If you are blocked because you don’t want to get started until you have those things when you do get them you will still be blocked on how to get started. You might be using the excuse that you can’t get started because you don’t have the collateral material. You’re making excuses because you don’t need it. Think carefully about why you are doing this and you might see that it’s just plain fear or lack of confidence getting in your way. As the old expression goes, “feel the fear and do it anyway”.

I am sharing this information because as a business coach I find there are a lot of good trainers struggling to find clients and get discouraged because they can’t make their financial commitments. They think a business card will make the difference between getting clients and not getting clients and it doesn’t. If you think you can’t get clients until you have a business card then you’re right. Why? Because you’re not getting out there to meet people. You and not the card are the problem. I’ve never done business with someone just because of their business card, have you? I might like the card. The card may look professional and give me a sense of the person but at the end of the day if I don’t connect with you your card could be made of 24 carrot gold and it wouldn’t make a difference I won’t be doing business with you.

I hope you feel a little better about getting out there to meet, connect and build relationships. Sure take your cards with you but if you don’t have one right now don’t let that stop you. If people ask for your contact information get their card instead or be creative and bring a few personalized, hand-written VIP invitations for coffee, lunch or a sample thirty minute session. Be different, innovative and creative and trust me that says more about you then a generic business card.

If you need more help on learning how to network, connect and relationship build then you have a few options. You can email me and I can suggest a few books for you to read. Or we can book a one hour coaching session and I can go over some tips and we can do a little practicing or you can choose both options. Lastly, there’s the granddaddy of all offers, we can go to a meet-up or networking event together and I can coach you during the live event.

I leave it in your hands to figure out what you need but I’m always here as a resource. Now go out there and start turning strangers into friends and friends into lifelong, loyal customers.

My response:

Business card is an important to have, its should not your back in building your list of resource of new clients. There are many creative ways to work arount not having a card.
Get Connected Make Wealth Happen

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