If you think about it, selling personal training really boils down to a client’s decision to do something good for themselves. And for clients new to the personal training, taking that initial leap and trusting a trainer to support their journey to healthy living, well, it can be a big decision. While this can make it challenging for trainers to sell online personal training, it doesn’t make it impossible.
Fortunately, social psychology has a lot to tell us about human behavior, including how and why we make decisions, and through years of research, psychologists have been able to pinpoint tactics and methods that can be used to coax individuals toward saying “yes.” These tactics can, of course, be used to help apprehensive clients make that leap into healthy living and purchase personal training services to help them reach their goals.
The Psychology of Saying Yes
When you ask someone to sign up for a training plan or subscribe to a nutrition program, what you’re really asking for is “compliance.” Social psychologists define this as “a change in behavior…requested by another person or group,” but where it’s still “possible [for an individual] to refuse or decline.”
This isn’t strong-arming, or coercion; far from it! Compliance is a gentle ask or request, and it can come in many different forms. Anything from accepting a friend’s request to help them move to signing a 2-year contract on a cable package counts as a request for compliance, and though the requests themselves can differ greatly, they always have one in common: there are things you can do to help ensure a positive response.
Getting a Foot in the Door
One of the longest-standing, and still one of the most commonly used methods today, is what’s known as the “foot-in-the-door” (FITD) technique.
You can probably already guess that the name of this technique comes from the now mostly outdated practice of door-to-door sales (you know, those people who always seem to arrive at your door selling thermostats or duct cleaning just as you’re getting in the shower or sitting down to dinner).
At the time the phrase was coined, having a “foot-in-the-door” referred, quite literally, to a salesperson using their foot to prevent a potential client from slamming the door in their face. Now, we’re not suggesting you canvas the neighbourhood looking for new clients, and we’re definitely not recommending you physically block individuals that aren’t interested in purchasing your training plans (seriously, don’t do that), but there is a lesson to be learned here that can help you sell more training.
Starting Off Small
While wedging a foot in a doorjamb might seem aggressive, what those brazen salespeople were really doing was getting a potential client to do something small (keep their door open), so the salesperson could have the chance to try and ask them for something big (buy what they were selling). It turns out, they were on to something.
Way back in 1966, researchers at Stanford University conducted a study called “Compliance without Pressure: The Foot-in-The-Door Technique” where they made different sized requests and tracked the number of “yes” or positive responses from participants. In group A, participants were first asked for a small request, then later for a larger request. While in group B, only the large request was made. Results showed that individuals from group A who had first agreed to the small request were 135% more likely to agree to the larger request than members of group B.
135%! That’s huge! Imagine if you could sell 135% more online personal training. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Free Trials, Consultations, and Introductory Offers
If you take these findings and apply it to your online personal training sales, it should be obvious that for many clients, committing to a long-term fitness plan is a big ask. This is even more true for clients that are new to personal training or skeptical about their abilities. To help them move toward long-term fitness plans, you could start them off with a smaller introductory plan: a no-cost consultation, a free trial, or even a short-term program offered at a discounted rate. Once they’ve agreed to the introductory plan, armed with your new social psychology knowledge, you can approach them again with a larger program.
Try it out for yourself and see if you can use the Foot-in-the-Door technique to help clients get over their initial hesitation and start their fitness journey.