4 Psychological Principles to Consider When Selling Fitness Services

member sales
By Dylan Webster

By Dylan Webster

Many fitness professionals acknowledge that not everyone they present their fitness services to will make a purchase that day.Let’s say you have 10 qualified guests walk into your gym, out of those 10:


  • 2 people have already done their research and are ready to enroll (pending no negative experiences).
  • 2 guests will not make a buying decision that day. They are using a trial, or just not mentally prepared to make the initial commitment.
  • The other 6 individuals need to be shown an amazing experience and be educated to understand why your services make the most sense for them to achieve their fitness goals.


In Canada, high volume fitness centers will have a closing percentage that ranges from 40-60%. Considering the amount of gyms and other avenues the members of our community can explore for working out, this range is the norm. However, by focusing more on appealing to individuals at their core and mixing in psychological principles to positively influence the decision making, we can bump up our closing percentage between 50-80%. To be clear, we are not leveraging psychology to manipulate our guests. Fitness professionals should coach their guests into understanding their underlying desires for fitness, health, wellness, and/or transformation.


Principle #1 – Fear


Why does roughly 80% of the North American population not have a gym membership or a desire to get fit? The answer is fear:


  • The fear of wasting time.
  • The fear of injury.
  • The fear of wasting money.
  • The fear of embarrassment.
  • The fear of muscle soreness.
  • And the most significant reason, the fear of failure.


People exercise to feel healthier, relieve stress, and create a sense of achievement. When someone is unsuccessful with their fitness regimen, they will not have these positive elements in their life. Negative feelings are compounded when they experience failure more often than success. Individuals do not want to be deemed lazy, incapable, or unattractive; however, some individuals feel that these are better options than challenging their fear and anxiety by going to a gym.


Solution: To influence people into taking action, make them feel confident.


Principle #2 – Analysis Paralysis


This phenomenon occurs when the sales process takes too long and/or the guest becomes too fatigued to make a buying decision. This occurs when guests are presented with too many different buying options or are being upsold with a large variety of additional services. Remember, guests are frequently just looking for a high-level overview when visiting a gym for the first time. A long sales presentation can be overwhelming and promote a negative perception of the environment.


Solution: Revert back to simplicity and become customer-centric. Focus on the buyer’s journey and trust the process.


Principle #3 – The Power of Choice


Another way to avoid Analysis Paralysis is to make the decision making process easier for the guest by limiting your pricing options. Buyers LOVE to be in control of the sale and want to feel empowered, however, businesses are in full control of the sale if they present 3 suitable options to the buyer. Choosing between 3 options is much easier than choosing between 7. Also, depending on how your services are structured, a fitness professional can lead the buyer towards a preferred option. Many buyers will naturally choose the middle option because it is the safest option, however, depending on the buyer(s), their ego may choose the most expensive option.


Solution: Consider the Goldilocks effect (too hot, too cold, just right) if you are looking to help someone make a safe and comfortable decision. Or consider the Good-Better-Best pricing model to anchor and upsell with additional services.


Principle #4 – FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)


FOMO, or “Loss Aversion,” is a term coined as a sales strategy to create urgency in the buyer. The thought of not buying something or not taking advantage of a promotion is stressful and triggers a sense of fear. Consumers are afraid to lose what they have or what they could have, so suggesting the only time to buy is “now” is powerful psychologically. If a fitness professional effectively communicates the implications of inaction, loss aversion will motivate a prospect to purchase services to avoid any adverse outcomes. FOMO goes hand in hand with the principle of scarcity. Communicating to the prospect that the services you are offering are limited or discounted for a limited time will urge them to pursue the transaction.


Solution: Communicate the benefits of fitness services but also the implications of inaction.


Dylan Webster is the Managing Director of the Fitness Sales Academy and the author of: Fitness Sales: Logic | Sweat | Emotion. Dylan is motivated to change the way members and guests are exposed to fitness by upgrading the sales skills of fitness professionals. Dylan leverages his extensive knowledge of fitness, social psychology, and human behavior, to coach others to unlock their full potential.

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