We tried something new in January where we worked with a local business to offer one trial session to a group of their employees.
We figured, what did it hurt? We might get some new members, and if nothing, we got the opportunity to positively represent CrossFit to people who had never done CrossFit before.
Here’s what happened. We had 6 people try us out, and 0 people signed up or expressed interest in coming back.
You might be thinking, “What did you do wrong?” That’s a fair question.
However, when you compare that to our actual leads for the month of January, we had 25 leads go through a free trial and 22 of them sign up.
So, what’s the disparity here?
The biggest differences are how we brought them into the gym and the experience they had at our gym, or to put it simply, the process and the approach.
Until now, I didn’t appreciate how stark the difference could be between what we’re doing now and what it would be like if we weren’t as heavily involved in the process. For that discovery alone, I am pretty thrilled this group of people came through our gym the way they did.
Here are the differences in PROCESS:
1. Initial Consultation
With all our leads (not referrals or returnees, but the ones who come to us through the form on our website), we spend up to a half hour on the phone doing an initial consultation before they even step inside the gym.
This is our opportunity to explain our value, to the max.
How do we do that?
We do the following things:
- Disarm the person by being friendly and paying attention to what that person is actually saying. Remember, CrossFit is intimidating, whether you’re new or looking for a new gym. People are going into this initial interaction with their guard up a little. It’s your job to break down the walls.
- Determine what s/he is looking for. We go beyond the generic “get in shape” answers and drill down to the reason behind the reason. We call this getting past the “no shit” level. If the lead explains what s/he is looking for in a gym, and it makes us go “no shit,” we keep digging.
- Set expectations and explain exactly what’s next and what s/he can expect from us. See below for more about setting expectations.
2. Confirmation Text (24 hours prior)
Within 24 hours of the free trial, we send a text to the lead making sure they know they have an appointment with us the next day. This does two things:
- Confirms the conversation we initially had and reminds the lead of why s/he was excited to get started.
- Reduces no-shows.
3. Free Trial
As I mentioned last week, our on-boarding process may (very likely) look MUCH different from yours. We continue to refine our on-boarding process, but this is also something that has worked pretty well for us so far.
Our free trial is facilitated by our sales person who, right now, is Lee (the other owner).
He sets the new person’s experience on the right foot by being friendly, disarming, and funny. He introduces him/her to the coach and some of the members, and he walks that person through each part of the hour, from the warm up to the work out. He ensures that person is moving safely, comfortable in the gym, and has no ego (or high expectations) about what’s happening on the first day.
The person facilitating the free trial is like a set of training wheels. We balance the level of fear and discomfort we know this new person is going to have, with the inclusiveness of the community and the support of the coach and facilitator.
It’s similar to a 1-on-1 session but our free trials include interaction from the coach and the community. It’s an opportunity for us to gauge where that person is at physically and mentally, before we talk with them afterward about what solution we think is best for them.
Philosophy Behind Our Sales Process
Now that we’ve covered what the process looks like, here are the differences in APPROACH:
1. Setting Expectations
Here are the three big things we cover in the initial consultation to help get a new person on the right foot from the second they step inside our gym.
- Safety: For people who are new to CrossFit, safety is a real concern. We always hear the horror stories (#fakenews), but it’s our responsibility as owners and ambassadors to dispel those myths or at least clarify them. We emphasize safety over performance, which helps to put that person at ease and generate trust in us.
- Comfort: Safety and comfort go hand in hand in many respects, because if our only expectation as coaches is that someone moves safely, many times we can get that person to think, “I can do that.” In this phone call we clearly outline what that person needs to bring and what they can expect during the hour they are in the gym. By doing this, we alleviate the fear of unknown here by explaining exactly what’s going to happen.
- No Ego: The initial consultation is not just about us making the lead feel comfortable, but it’s also about confidently communicating how s/he needs to behave in the gym. Without that inherent trust in the coaches and the process, a member will fight against seeing any results in the gym and will straight up be a pain in everyone’s ass. We take this opportunity to explain, especially for leads with an athletic background, that everyone has a first day in CrossFit and that no matter what happens that day (or any other), just showing up and putting in the work is all that matters.
Now, of course, we all know as gym owners that this is much easier said than done, but communicating our expectations up front make a world of difference in how that person behaves at the gym and experiences the hour.
2. Reaffirming (Or Surpassing) Expectations
The free trial is our chance to shine. We talked a good game about safety, comfort, and checking your ego, but what’s the reality of the situation?
Can we walk the talk?
Throughout the hour, we’re ensuring the new person is moving safely, comfortable with the people around and the surroundings, and trusting us and the coach.
Whether it’s through introducing that person to another friendly face at the gym or giving affirmations throughout a work out, we use this hour to give that person a string of positive and memorable experiences that will have them wanting to return.
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