Membership sales
Can your staff sell?

Mhairi Fitzpatrick and David Hopkins of Proinsight outline the findings of new research into sales performance across the health and fitness sector


nly 60 per cent of prospects who take the time to visit a health club and chat to a sales person are asked for their contact details. This is one of the most surprising findings of research carried out throughout 2015 by Proinsight Research.

Meanwhile, despite it being the raison d’être of the sales person, a prospect was directly asked if they would like to join the club or leisure centre only 56 per cent of the time. In terms of follow-up, just 35 per cent made contact in the timeframe specified by the operator – generally 48 hours.

When it came to phone enquiries, the club staff provided a positive greeting 68 per cent of the time. Data capture was again weak though, with fewer than half of callers being asked for contact details. Slightly more encouraging was the fact that 60 per cent of all phone enquiries were offered an appointment to visit the club.

Via the web, the response time was acceptable – within 24 hours – 61 per cent of the time. Responses were personalised 80 per cent of the time, and enquiries were dealt with to the enquirer’s satisfaction 67 per cent of the time.

When comparing the overall effectiveness across sectors, the private sector scored best at 68 per cent. The council sector scored lowest at 58 per cent, while leisure centre operator groups and the educational sector scored 65.7 per cent and 62 per cent respectively. (See Figure 1)

“These results highlight some uncomfortable facts,” says Jeremy Taylor of The Health Club Collection. “Only half of all prospects who come into our clubs are being asked if they want to join. Making sales is a tough job, but it’s also well paid when compared to front of house or gym floor staff. Shouldn’t we be demanding more?”

Technical performance
The Proinsight study broke sales down into technical and emotional aspects. At its most basic level, technical selling can be simplified into three elements:

• Capturing data: When someone comes in to enquire, it’s essential to record a contact phone number or email address. If not, there’s nothing to follow up and the time spent with the prospect has been entirely wasted.

• Always asking the prospect to join: If the question isn’t asked, there’s little chance of a ‘yes’.

• Following up: These are hot prospects, and should be the easiest calls for a sales person to make at the start of each day.

Figure 2 (see p66) shows the proportion of our mystery shopper enquiries in which these three points were adhered to.

Examining the performance of each sector highlights further where gaps exist. Figure 3 shows the differences between sectors: the council sector scored very low in the key element of data capture, with just 12 per cent of all prospect details being recorded. The educational sector is doing a good job and scored 94 per cent.

The council sector also scored lowest (28 per cent) in terms of asking prospects to join, but sales staff in all sectors appear to have a reluctance ask this most important question.

Meanwhile the follow-up statistics are damagingly weak across all sectors.

Emotional connection
Getting the emotional element of selling right – a good needs analysis, a tour that responds to the customer’s needs, building rapport, body language and emotionally intelligent selling – is more difficult. Unsurprisingly, then, there’s huge scope for improvement. In our study, one-third of prospects felt their needs weren’t considered during the tour, over 40 per cent felt key questions in the tour weren’t asked in meaningful ways, and one-quarter felt rapport wasn’t established (see Figure 4).

The quickest fix
The technical aspect of selling is the easiest element to fix quickly. The message to sales staff is clear: always ask the prospect to join, always capture data and always follow up. These should be set as non-negotiable job criteria.

“We spend a lot on marketing, and evidence suggests that quite a bit of this is wasted money, because we’re not processing enquiries as effectively as we should,” concludes Taylor. “Allocating part of your marketing budget to checking systems and process is well worthwhile. Identifying training gaps and fixing them fast will lead to an improved bottom line”.


Research methodology
Throughout 2015, Proinsight carried out a research and benchmarking exercise to investigate how effectively health clubs sell memberships and how different sectors in the leisure industry compare.

Three enquiry types were measured: the face-to-face sales interaction, the response to a membership web enquiry, and the service impression made when a prospect telephones the club.

Over 20,000 metrics from more than 500 UK health club locations were measured using mystery visits, mystery calls and mystery web enquiries as the method of collecting data.

To measure face-to-face performance, secret shoppers were sent into the clubs to look at key elements, including data capture, needs analysis, the tour, effective price presentation, closing and follow-up.

For the phone-based enquiries, speed of response, positivity, data collection and appointment setting qualities were measured.

Assessment of clubs’ performance for web enquiries examined response time, personalisation and effectiveness at dealing with the specifics of an enquiry.


Key findings
• Only 60 per cent of face-to-face enquiries are asked for their contact details

• Face-to-face prospects are directly asked if they would like to join only 56 per cent of the time

• Just 35 per cent of people making face-to-face enquiries were followed up within 48 hours

• Fewer than half of phone enquirers were asked for contact details

• 60 per cent of all telephone enquiries were offered an appointment to visit the club

• Messages sent back to web enquiries were personalised 80 per cent of the time

• Web enquiries were handled to the enquirer’s satisfaction 67 per cent of the time

• One-third of prospects felt their needs were not being considered during the tour

• Over 40 per cent of prospects felt key questions during the tour weren’t being asked in meaningful ways

• One-quarter of prospects felt rapport was not established

Figure 1

Sales effectiveness (overall performance on metrics assessed) by sector
 



Figure 1
Figure 2

Technical performance

 



Figure 2
Figure 3

Technical performance by sector

 



Figure 3
Figure 4

Emotional connection

 



Figure 4

About the Authors

 

Mhairi Fitzpatrick and David Hopkins
 

Mhairi Fitzpatrick and David Hopkins are executive director and managing director of UK-based Proinsight, which specialises in mystery shopping and consumer research.

The full sales performance report can be obtained from Proinsight Research – www.proinsight.org/#contact


Ensure club tours are tailored to the individual prospect – are they interested in classes, for example?
Only 60 per cent of phone-based enquiries were offered an appointment to visit the club Credit: PHOTO: Shutterstock.com
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2016 issue 2

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Can your staff sell?

Membership sales

Can your staff sell?


Mhairi Fitzpatrick and David Hopkins of Proinsight outline the findings of new research into sales performance across the health and fitness sector

Building rapport is a key part of a tour, and it helps to demonstrate a rapport with existing members PHOTO: Shutterstock.com
Ensure club tours are tailored to the individual prospect – are they interested in classes, for example?
Only 60 per cent of phone-based enquiries were offered an appointment to visit the club PHOTO: Shutterstock.com

nly 60 per cent of prospects who take the time to visit a health club and chat to a sales person are asked for their contact details. This is one of the most surprising findings of research carried out throughout 2015 by Proinsight Research.

Meanwhile, despite it being the raison d’être of the sales person, a prospect was directly asked if they would like to join the club or leisure centre only 56 per cent of the time. In terms of follow-up, just 35 per cent made contact in the timeframe specified by the operator – generally 48 hours.

When it came to phone enquiries, the club staff provided a positive greeting 68 per cent of the time. Data capture was again weak though, with fewer than half of callers being asked for contact details. Slightly more encouraging was the fact that 60 per cent of all phone enquiries were offered an appointment to visit the club.

Via the web, the response time was acceptable – within 24 hours – 61 per cent of the time. Responses were personalised 80 per cent of the time, and enquiries were dealt with to the enquirer’s satisfaction 67 per cent of the time.

When comparing the overall effectiveness across sectors, the private sector scored best at 68 per cent. The council sector scored lowest at 58 per cent, while leisure centre operator groups and the educational sector scored 65.7 per cent and 62 per cent respectively. (See Figure 1)

“These results highlight some uncomfortable facts,” says Jeremy Taylor of The Health Club Collection. “Only half of all prospects who come into our clubs are being asked if they want to join. Making sales is a tough job, but it’s also well paid when compared to front of house or gym floor staff. Shouldn’t we be demanding more?”

Technical performance
The Proinsight study broke sales down into technical and emotional aspects. At its most basic level, technical selling can be simplified into three elements:

• Capturing data: When someone comes in to enquire, it’s essential to record a contact phone number or email address. If not, there’s nothing to follow up and the time spent with the prospect has been entirely wasted.

• Always asking the prospect to join: If the question isn’t asked, there’s little chance of a ‘yes’.

• Following up: These are hot prospects, and should be the easiest calls for a sales person to make at the start of each day.

Figure 2 (see p66) shows the proportion of our mystery shopper enquiries in which these three points were adhered to.

Examining the performance of each sector highlights further where gaps exist. Figure 3 shows the differences between sectors: the council sector scored very low in the key element of data capture, with just 12 per cent of all prospect details being recorded. The educational sector is doing a good job and scored 94 per cent.

The council sector also scored lowest (28 per cent) in terms of asking prospects to join, but sales staff in all sectors appear to have a reluctance ask this most important question.

Meanwhile the follow-up statistics are damagingly weak across all sectors.

Emotional connection
Getting the emotional element of selling right – a good needs analysis, a tour that responds to the customer’s needs, building rapport, body language and emotionally intelligent selling – is more difficult. Unsurprisingly, then, there’s huge scope for improvement. In our study, one-third of prospects felt their needs weren’t considered during the tour, over 40 per cent felt key questions in the tour weren’t asked in meaningful ways, and one-quarter felt rapport wasn’t established (see Figure 4).

The quickest fix
The technical aspect of selling is the easiest element to fix quickly. The message to sales staff is clear: always ask the prospect to join, always capture data and always follow up. These should be set as non-negotiable job criteria.

“We spend a lot on marketing, and evidence suggests that quite a bit of this is wasted money, because we’re not processing enquiries as effectively as we should,” concludes Taylor. “Allocating part of your marketing budget to checking systems and process is well worthwhile. Identifying training gaps and fixing them fast will lead to an improved bottom line”.


Research methodology
Throughout 2015, Proinsight carried out a research and benchmarking exercise to investigate how effectively health clubs sell memberships and how different sectors in the leisure industry compare.

Three enquiry types were measured: the face-to-face sales interaction, the response to a membership web enquiry, and the service impression made when a prospect telephones the club.

Over 20,000 metrics from more than 500 UK health club locations were measured using mystery visits, mystery calls and mystery web enquiries as the method of collecting data.

To measure face-to-face performance, secret shoppers were sent into the clubs to look at key elements, including data capture, needs analysis, the tour, effective price presentation, closing and follow-up.

For the phone-based enquiries, speed of response, positivity, data collection and appointment setting qualities were measured.

Assessment of clubs’ performance for web enquiries examined response time, personalisation and effectiveness at dealing with the specifics of an enquiry.


Key findings
• Only 60 per cent of face-to-face enquiries are asked for their contact details

• Face-to-face prospects are directly asked if they would like to join only 56 per cent of the time

• Just 35 per cent of people making face-to-face enquiries were followed up within 48 hours

• Fewer than half of phone enquirers were asked for contact details

• 60 per cent of all telephone enquiries were offered an appointment to visit the club

• Messages sent back to web enquiries were personalised 80 per cent of the time

• Web enquiries were handled to the enquirer’s satisfaction 67 per cent of the time

• One-third of prospects felt their needs were not being considered during the tour

• Over 40 per cent of prospects felt key questions during the tour weren’t being asked in meaningful ways

• One-quarter of prospects felt rapport was not established

Figure 1

Sales effectiveness (overall performance on metrics assessed) by sector
 



Figure 1
Figure 2

Technical performance

 



Figure 2
Figure 3

Technical performance by sector

 



Figure 3
Figure 4

Emotional connection

 



Figure 4

About the Authors

 

Mhairi Fitzpatrick and David Hopkins
 

Mhairi Fitzpatrick and David Hopkins are executive director and managing director of UK-based Proinsight, which specialises in mystery shopping and consumer research.

The full sales performance report can be obtained from Proinsight Research – www.proinsight.org/#contact



Originally published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 2

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