TL/DR version up front: “Hard-sell” sales tactics are detrimental to intrinsic motivation. Coaches show VALUE…selling is secondary.
I was sitting in a trainer development type meeting during my short stint attempting to work at a corporate gym. Although I had plenty of experience dealing with clients as an independent trainer, these meetings were mandatory, so I tried to maintain a positive attitude – you can ALWAYS learn something new, regardless of the setting.
On one occasion, we were asked to roleplay a goal-setting conversation with a potential clients. I started off with something like:
“Ok, Mike, what is your vision? If you could see yourself a year or so from now, and everything has gone your way with your fitness routine, what would you Look like?”
I was stopped by the person leading the meeting and asked:
“Why start off so long term? These people can’t remember what they ate for breakfast. You need to find something that is bugging them right NOW.”
At this point, 2005 Jonny would have spouted off some sort of smart-assed remark. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Psychology…specifically APPLIED Sport Psychology, so I know a thing or two about setting goals with clients, and the younger Jonny would have hurled F-Bombs and pulled out peer reviewed literature. Yeah, I was a bit of a handful.
However, the older Jonny version is a bit more mellow, so I went into my head to figure out under what circumstances my approach would be incorrect. I mean, in a pure SALES situation, you really want to find the most acute emotional response possible, in order to push the button and get a person to buy, but we aren’t talking sales here, we are talking coaching…
Coaches shoe value…
(and thus began the end of my corporate training career)
Listen, I’m not ANTI sales. Let’s face it, if there isn’t some sort of transaction occurring, then no one gets trained and no lives get changed. If you want to be a trainer, you have to sell.
However, my approach was always different because I understand how critical it is to get a client off on the right foot, and how pushy sales tactics can’t really screw this up. Here are some examples:
- You TELL the client how many days they MUST work out on your program. This immediately removes a choice (- autonomy) and starts to erode motivation.
- You belittle the fact that the client likes (spinning/yoga/kickboxing/etc) classes as a way to talk up the benefits of personal training, thus making them feel stupid for their exercise modality of choice (- competency), as well as removing their choices again (– autonomy).
- Pushy sales tactics cause the client to feel alienated, but they buy anyway, even though they are slightly uncomfortable with you know and question if you are willing to be part of a team with them (- relatedness).
That’s just three possibilities (that I have seen with a fair degree of frequency) and look at the negative effects to Intrinsic Motivation!
I wasn’t wrong in my response at the meeting, I was just thinking of the clients motivation long-term. I was thinking like a COACH, not a SALESMAN.
HARD-SELL TECHNIQUES DO NOT FOSTER INTRINSIC MOTIVATION.
The kicker: if you are a competent trainer, you don’t even NEED to pressure a client. So, how do you sell them?
BY DEMONSTRATING VALUE.
Put a client through a smart assessment that shows your technical expertise as a trainer. Talk about long and short term goals. Give them a choice in frequency and session duration. Involve them in the programming process.
Remember, we aren’t selling used cars, we are changing lives.
The goal is to COACH! Coaches show value!