Cultivate a Winning Sales Culture

For Gym Operators

Cultivate a Winning Sales Culture

A club’s vision and core values are the cornerstones in building a healthy sales culture for robust, long-term sales results. What set of characteristics, attitudes, and values represent your sales team? Are you developing sales leaders empowered to sell through skill mastery and knowledge of the business they’re working in?  Learn how to guide a sales culture that delivers on the ideal enrollment process and optimal member experience for a direct impact on your sales results.

The following is a summarization of an education session from the 2016 IHRSA Convention, produced with full permission from IHRSA. The full-length video is available for purchase at

About the Speaker

Amanda Konigsberg, General Manager Active Wellness

A Healthy Sales Culture

A club’s sales culture is defined by a set of characteristics, attitudes, and values embodied by the sales team which determines their sales results. One persuasive tool club owners have in developing a healthy sales culture is to ensure the sales team is aligned with or united in the club’s shared vision. 

For an organization’s vision to be effective within a sales team, it must have a clear and compelling client and employee focus. It should speak to an emotional connection between the sales team and current or prospective members.

Club owners and sales managers can cultivate their sales team to influence a direct impact on results. Effectively communicate a consistent and shared vision with your sales team to build assurances for what you ideally want to achieve, an optimal member experience. The sales team’s objective is to reliably produce a member experience that is consistent, intentional, valuable, different, and emotional. 

Three Types of Member Experiences

  • Random:  inconsistent and unintentional
  • Predictable: consistent and intentional, but not very different or valuable
  • Optimal: consistent, intentional, valuable, different, and emotional

Defining your club’s vison and putting into practice the core values with the sales team is vital to growth. These are the cornerstones in building a winning sales culture to achieve long-term sales results, before any investment in client relationship management (CRM) tools and other automated processes.

Master One Skill at a Time

Develop a sales training program that concentrates on small changes in the capabilities of your sales team. This can translate into a greater impact on the team’s overall sales achievements. Implement narrowed focus training. Dedicate one month to a certain skill set with the goal to perfect that skill. By narrowing the training to focus independently on a skill, perfect the skill, and then refocus to tackle another skill, your organization can achieve dramatic returns in sales results.

What specific activities can a club owner, director of sales, or sales manager train and measure the sales team on to deliver effective conversion to membership sales? Here are four key skills.

  1. Pre-handling sales concerns and objections
  2. Training on telephone enquiry conversation
  3. Training on a needs analysis or psychology of a prospect
  4. How to deliver an effective tour

Guide Your Sales Culture Through Content And Capture

Analyze the sales process and those skills that dictate sales results. Memberships sold is not the only metric club owners and sales managers can use to evaluate the effectiveness of the sales team. Identify all the different activities or steps in the sales process. Assign points to each activity. Recognize and reward high performers based on highest accumulated points from monthly sales activity.

Maximize your CRM tools and dedicate time to analyzing the data. Set aside one full day per month at the end of each month to analyze sales data. The club’s leadership team can make better informed decisions from analysis of the captured data. You’ll know which marketing and sales content is working and can develop new content based on higher impact sales activities.

Review the return on investment of promotions to determine their worthiness. For example, if a club sees higher conversions off of a three-day trial membership than off of a 10-day, it is therefore a reasonable conclusion to drop the 10-day trial offer.

Without the capture and analysis of all sales activity, club owners are restricted in their ability to effectively lead the sales team. Sales activity data is a critical element in the decision-making process for future communications and how the club is gaining prospects.

An Ideal Enrollment Process

Using these approaches to guide the club’s sales culture can help shape an ideal enrollment process.

  • Telephone enquiry – expect 70% conversion from enquiry to appointment.
  • Set and confirm an appointment to ensure prospect has a higher show rate.
  • Upon arrival have prospect complete a guest profile, i.e. written or electronic.
  • Conduct a needs analysis. The needs analysis can be the longest part of the sales process. It is important to understand what drives the prospect member’s motivation to make the buying decision. Know the “super why” and “dominate buying motive” to effectively deliver a tour that meets the expectations of the prospect. The decision to buy a fitness membership is based on an emotional decision and super dominate buying motive.
  • Identify the motives of each prospect and focus on their interests.  
  • Before discussing membership types and rates, check in with the prospect. Ask if there are other questions or concerns they may have before sitting down them to discuss membership details.  This helps to pre-handle any objections.
  • Present membership types and rates. Recommend more than one type of membership rate that best suits the prospect.
  • Guide them through the full enrollment process. Make sure to communicate all that the membership entails. Present the membership packet. Discuss additional services to capture additional ancillary revenues at the point of sale, e.g. personal training.  
  • Ask for referrals and present any referral promotions, i.e. an accountability buddy complimentary 30-day membership for friends, family, or colleagues.
  • Schedule an orientation and deliver a program based on the needs analysis.
  • Update any administrative or organizational systems.
  • Send a thank you card or email, or both.  
  • Contact the new member after seven days to ask if they are enjoying their membership. Check first to confirm the member as checked-in within seven days of joining. It’s important to reach out to the member to show support and to reinforce a quality remember experience.

Develop Sales Leaders

Hire top performers and develop them into sales leaders to increase your sales team capacity.  Over-communicate the club’s core values with employees in weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings. Conduct annual reviews to reinforce the core values and recognize the membership consultant’s active part in exemplifying those core values in their work.  

Sales staff should have compassion and a sense of caring of others. They are great listeners. They have a passion for and knowledge of fitness. High performers are energetic and likeable. An ideal candidate displays optimism. The role of membership sales is stressful with daily, weekly, and monthly targets. You want your sales team to have confidence and the belief they can achieve their goals.

Competitiveness is healthy, but a team mindset is more crucial in building effective sales leaders. Emphasize, demonstrate, and recognize efforts by the entire team. The team goal is more significant than the individual’s. For example, when the sales manager asks the question, “Where are we at?” the response from a membership consultant is not “I’ve had two sales.”

Teach Them, Train Them, Trust Them

Approach the process as a learning opportunity for all employees. Encourage and train the sales team on basic budget processes and how to deliver an effective cash flow. Assign a team member the responsibility to deliver the daily cash flow for membership, to update the goals board, and to send it to the team along with what’s needed to reach the goal.

Enable sales leaders to act. Providing your sales team with full-time access to live sales activity data is essential to their success. Develop sales leaders through education and training to help them to understand the industry and business that they’re working in. Continually communicate the club’s shared vison and core values to keep the sales team performing and motivated to create the optimal connection with members and future members.

Enhance Your Sales Culture through Clarity and Consistency

Provide consistent coaching and transparent communication with employees. Communicate with staff on performance expectations and their commitment to exemplify core values in regularly scheduled meetings and in written correspondence. Sales staff should know where they stand and the expectations that the club owner or director of sales want them to deliver on.

Focus on Small Victories

Daily sales management and coaching is imperative and part of developing the sales culture. Victories are not won on day 31, but in effect are won every day of the month. Keep track of sales activity daily to recognize immediately pacing that’s not on target. Respond quickly to discuss with the sales team and adjust strategies to stay on track to achieve weekly or monthly sales objectives.

Not everyone is infallible and people will fail. Don’t underscore the failure. Instead use it as a teachable moment. Discuss with the sales team or individual membership consultant how to identify the problem and to analyze what may have gone wrong. Coach the team on ways to evaluate, improve and eliminate future potential problems.

Build accountability in your sales leaders. Require membership consultants to provide a monthly target of guaranteed sales. Having a decision in the results process, sales staff are more invested in reaching their goals. This is an effective tool to judge how well a sales person can read a prospect. It provides a picture of how the membership consultant manages the multiple steps in the sales process, particularly the needs analysis with prospective members.


Ensure the sales team is united in the club’s vision and core values, and is exemplifying them in their sales activities each day. Offer monthly focus training to help sales staff identify and master one skill at a time. Dedicate time to continually analyze the sale process. Share the capture and content with the sales team. Coach the sales team to become accountable leaders. Guide the club’s sales culture with these approaches to succeed at achieving a winner sales culture.