Home How To Sell Personal Training How To Stop Objections and Ask The Right Questions.

How To Stop Objections and Ask The Right Questions.

“I don’t mind making jokes, but I don’t want to look like one.”
– Marilyn Monroe

When it comes to Selling Personal Training, the first step is identifying your clients true needs and… satisfying them.

When done right – you won’ ever need to overcome objections or ‘fight’ for the sale.  Prospects will naturally buy because they like and trust you because you know the secrets to treating them right…

After a recent PT Power Coaching Session, one of my clients (Max) came up to me and asked…

Whenever I ask for the sale, I keep getting these excuses…

“I can’t afford it”
“How about I’ll call you and let you know”
“I need to think it over”
“I need to talk it over with my (…)”

“So, John… How do I overcome these objections… What do I say when they tell me that…?”

I said… “Oh, so you want to know how to make prospects STOP making excuses?”

“No John.  When they tell me that I want to know what to say so I get the sale.”

I said… “No Max.  What you need to do is fix yourself so you don’t keep getting objections.”

An O.K. salesman knows how to overcome objections using smooth language.  And I run mini workshops teaching trainers how to do that… but influencing your prospects in closing deals involves much more than “knowing what to say.”

People have strong perceptions of how Personal Trainers should represent themselves.

I mean, if you’re reading this blog, you want to attract clients who respect what you do and are glad to pay premium rates for your services.

Max’s problem was way deeper than just knowing what to say.  He had a connection problem.  Most his prospects didn’t trust him.

He’s been a Personal Trainer for 3 years… and he’s still in way…struggling.

My hat goes off to him.  Most PT’s would’ve dropped out after the first 6 months.  But…doing the same thing for 3 years and getting no results wrecks havoc on your “I love tryig new things” part of your brain.  Motivation is lost and you start thinking everything’s a scam and nothing works anymore.

In the early days part of my sales training, the first thing I learnt was the art of closing.  I got so good at it, brand new prospects were signing 12-15 week contracts with me in the first 2 minutes!  And on some days… it took as long as 10 minutes.

It gave ‘high pressure sales tactics’ a new meaning.

I had a winning formula and I loved using it on everyone I came across…

But there was a problem.

Most people who signed up were immediately cancelling the next day.  Some were ringing me after 30 minutes and saying stuff like…

“I don’t know what I did with you?  I’m sorry but we have to cancel it” 

“What did I just sign with you? I’m sorry, but we have to cancel it”

Some just didn’t rock up.  I mean, they NEVER rocked up…even to their first session.  Never answering their calls, not replying to their voicemail…nothing.

Some cancelled their gym membership just so they can avoid me.  And others were simply getting up during my presentation and storming out the gym – never to see them ever again!

Some figured out the exact hours I was working (morning and night) and were coming in around those times…just so they didn’t see me.

Since I booked out time slots for them, I had to keep their payments rolling.  I figured they would at least call me after a few weeks to say “hey, stop my payments.”  Nope.  Money was coming out of their account and they STILL refused to get in contact with me.

Sure I was closing deals…but was running a BAD service based business.  This was all possible because I had ‘magic’ lines and I knew how to overcome objections and close the deal – FAST

But I didn’t know how to win over the customer.  Closing was what I was spending MOST my time on.  Yes I was closing…but I wasn’t winning.

A while back in my amateur PT days, I went used car shopping with a good friend of mine.  I always had great success buying cars private.

But she felt more comfortable browsing car yards.  I always heard stories of evil car salesmen and their tricks, lies and deceptions in saying anything to close the deal… being your best friend – then the next day turning into the “do I know you?” guy.

…I thought those people were extinct by now and are only found in mythical archives you read about… “once up a time there was this car salesman who never left you alone until you signed here…” kind of stories.

Just like when you were a kid dreaming you’ll meet superman one day… then finally that day comes only to realise it’s just some fat dude in spandex.

Car Salesman: Hi there.  I can see yourself being popular in that car
Liz: Oh, do you really think so?
Car Salesman: Sure.  What’s your name?
Liz: “Liz”
Car Salesman: Yes I can see it now.  It’s got “Liz” written all over it.  It’s the car made for you.  You should buy it
Liz: Do you really think so?
Car Salesman:  You know Liz, we’ve sold only 2 like this for the whole year.  But none in Red.  These cars are rare and VERY hard to come by.  In fact, another young girl was in here just a few hours ago wanting the exact same car.  She’ll be coming within the hour to leave a deposit.  But I can call and tell her not to come if you are quicker than her… In fact, I’ll rather sell this car to you.  I believe it suits you better”
Liz: O.K. So what do I need to do?
Car Salesman: Come with me and in 5 minutes I’ll lock it in and make sure no one tries stealing it from you
Me: WTF!!??

That salesman just focused on scarcity and greed in trying to win the sale.  He didn’t ask questions on:

The importance on why Liz was searching for a car now

The type of car suited specifically for her needs

How important is owning a car right now

What priorities and options does she want the car to have

Is safety an important factor is choosing your car

Do you like your car to have easy parking options

Would you like a car that’s known for its reliability so it won’t give you major headaches when it comes to servicing?

Is fuel economy an important factor

How important is safety?

Are you looking at a certain budget or is financing an easier option for you?

And so on…

Asking basic questions like that shows you CARE about your customer

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well”
― Voltaire

And after he’s uncovered her true desires and narrowed down her options…then all he has to do is give her a few alternatives to choose from…and that’s pretty much it.

Once Liz knows she had chosen the right car based on her needs, she wouldn’t have any regrets.  No buyers remorse and no… “Did I do the right thing…or…did I make the right choice…?”

Instead she’ll be saying…

“that person at the used car lot was so helpful…I’m gonna refer my friends and family there.”

We didn’t buy from that guy.  Instead we felt worthless.  Cheated.  Treated like crap.  Him not caring about our true needs.  Not feeling respected as a human being and felt like we were being used just for our money – not caring about us whatsoever…

Driving back, Liz said…

I’m so happy you stopped me from buying that car.  Now, thinking about it… I didn’t even want the damn thing.  I was swept away in the moment.  What was I thinking…?”

After being shocked and experiencing that immobilising feeling… It was that moment I realised I was doing something wrong.  Now I have first-hand experience how my clients felt… and white hot pressure tactics are nerve shattering to the soul.

I was blindly following scripts and tactics without realising I’m dealing with real human beings.  I never asked questions on their true needs and wants.  I never mentioned how I can help them achieve their goals, nor did I show how much I care about them (deep down I cared.  But I just never knew how to express it)  All I knew was what to say and that was it.

It was unbelievably devastating on people – and it left a lasting impact which no business can survive from.  And in a purely service based business such as Personal Training… building trust and likeability should be your number one priority.

Since then I flipped that old way of selling on its head – crushing it to death.  They are now forgotten tactics.

After spending endless months refining my sales skills and focusing ON the customer and discovering her needs, wants and desires… I don’t even bother with the close anymore.  The sales close themselves.  In fact, most times, clients say “O.K. John…where do I sign?”

Building strong connections, trust and rapport should be what you spend most your time on.   It’s the biggest chunk of your sales presentation.

And this involves digging deep into your customers wants, desires and fears.  Once you have enough information, you can then prescribe the exact solution to your prospects.

Answer any questions they may have… and then close the deal.

And that’s why I refused to teach Max ‘magic’ words in overcoming objections.  I knew is problem.  He didn’t have a friendly vibe about him.  He didn’t put effort in the way he dressed.  He didn’t take care of himself.  He had no enthusiasm and flat out seemed like he was depressed when he spoke.

People didn’t trust him.  He had trouble building rapport and just seemed like he didn’t care about himself, his appearance or his clients well-being.

Me: “how have you kept yourself going for 3 years?  What’s your secret?”

Max: “I undercharge ALL my clients – so they take up my training and don’t leave”

Me: “And for how long have you been doing that…?”

Max: “2 ½ years now”

Me: “And has it worked…? I mean, are you happy with your financial situation and your PT business?

After taking in a deep breath, stooping over with a sad look on his face he said… “I guess not”

It makes sense doesn’t it?  People with low self confidence undercharge… because they feel they’re not worth it.  And those are the kinds of people who cop all the objections. And struggle making any money in their PT business.

I took him as a personal one-on-one client and worked on his rapport building strategies, posture, voice tone, enthusiasm and personal presence.

Within 2 weeks he closed 2 sales – without dropping his prices.

And in the first month he scored 2 extra clients by them approaching him (again, without dropping his prices)

Yes.  I gave him a few strategies to overcome objections…but he never used them.

The Lesson: When it comes to selling Personal Training;  The more the customer trusts and respects you… the more likely they’ll buy.

Focus most your time on your prospects.  Upon first meeting them, spend at least 45 minutes asking them questions on what they want to achieve…their goals, desires, fears, wants and ambitions.  Don’t bother training them.  The first session should be information gathering.

You questions should revolve around:

Asking them about their goals…and what they want to achieve.

How would they feel if they achieve their goals and how would they feel if they don’t.

Have they tried achieving their goals in the past and were they successful?

What’s motivating them to train…? and what’s different now compared to before?

Remember to question their responses.  Get to know them and their situation.  Show that you care.  Explain how your Personal Training can solve their problems.  Don’t become a ‘salesperson’ instead be a problem solver.

But they must believe and trust you in the first place.  That’s why you got to show enthusiasm and express a positive attitude towards your own life… and theirs.

In fact there was a study in the March 2010 edition Journal of Personality and Social Psychology entitled – The impact of positive mood on trust in interpersonal and intergroup interactions – proving that if the other person expresses cues of trust (the way he/she expresses themselves, dresses, body language, voice tone, posture, etc) and you’re in a good mood… you perceive that person to be trustworthy.

And it also proves that even if you’re in a positive mood and the other person expresses cues of distrust… you perceive that person as untrustworthy.

Meaning, even if we’re in a positive mood, and the other person shows elements of distrust… we judge him as untrustworthy… and we are less likely to buy.

And the more people question your trust, the more likely they’ll shoot you down with excuses and objections for not wanting to buy.

So even if you know ‘magic’ words – it still wouldn’t help your sales or long term business success.

The bottom line:  Get to know your prospects.  In fact, spend as much time possible uncovering the hidden motivators as to why they want to train.  Show enthusiasm and excitement in wanting to help them.  Take pride in your appearance.  Dress well and show that you care.. because once people make judgements about you…it’s hard to change their mind.

Dedicated To Accelerating Your Personal Training Business Every Step Of The Way…
– John Toumpakke

P.S. Max was a great ‘technical’ trainer.  He knew his stuff…but just didn’t know how to express it well.  In other words… he did not know the art of selling Personal Training.

P.P.S  Don’t be in too much of a hurry to train your prospects… spend time in getting to know them.  Most trainers blindly train their customers even when they don’t fully understand their clients situation.

P.P.P.S  I finally met a car salesman I could trust.  Liz bought her car from there.  She’s so happy, she’s referred a few of her friends (I forgot the exact number)

P.P.P.P.S  Max is doing fine.  He’s surprised on the amount of hidden potential he had…and thought his PT business was dead.  Doomed and nowhere to grow.  He’s now in the process of ‘firing’ his old clients (those who refuse to pay him his full rates)

P.P.P.P.P.S  Sadly there are still sales courses who teach strong closing tactics and neglect the importance of building the right connection and rapport.  Overlooking the importance of enthusiasm, voice tone, body language, the right way to ask impactful questions, responding to your clients responses and so on…

P.P.P.P.P.P.S Discover more on the art of  selling Personal Training with the female version of this article entitled… Selling Personal Training And How She Lost The Sale

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John Toumpakke for years has been helping Personal Trainers build marketing systems and business positioning strategies - turning regular PT's into gurus of their industry. His brand PT Power Club is known as the provider for advanced Niche marketing solutions for Personal Trainers and has developed new and unique systems helping trainers find and develop their own fitness niche. He coaches and trains a tightly, successful bound community of trainers teaching them how to stand out and dominate their competition through his powerful positioning strategies. PT Power Club’s goal is to teach and coach Personal Trainers across Australia on how to truly find their unique status within their community and eliminate all competition.


  1. Another great post John!

    That is so true these days you still see people working hard to close the deal. They do it well, but after a very short time they lose the business of that customer. It’s so sad to see because those trainers are the ones that get frustrated because heaps of people are signing up and very few are staying more than a week with them!

    • It’s great to see Michael that you are now focusing on the deeper understandings of influence.

      Maybe back in the 60’s – the art of the close was effective. But now, people are getting much more desensitised to ‘sales’

      So many people these days have had bad experiences with ‘zombie’ like customer service and high pressure sales tactics from greedy “give me your money and now get lost” kind of people… they smell a sales presentation coming from a mile away…

      Customers just want to feel appreciated, respected and understood. Because they’re hardly getting any of that… even a little appreciation goes a long way these days.

      And sometimes if you do it right… they’ll close you and willing to pay whatever price just to be in your presence. And that’s a powerful thing.

      As always – Thank you for another great comment Michael 🙂

  2. Excelent post John!

    I agree very strongly, it’s hard to put all off that work in and not have a client continue on even if they have signed up eager to transform their lives. I feel that making the client see the value in the service is important in ensuring client retention and satisfaction! Great post. Job well done.

    • Thanks for your comment Jai!

      If someone likes and trusts you, they’ll buy. If they continue to experience those feelings – they’ll stay.

      That’s where the ‘fakes’ ALWAYS get caught out. They act all nice and imitate how a likeable person ‘should’ be and do their best until the sale is done. Then when the money’s rolling in and they’ve got their clients under contracts, they stop trying and go to their old selves – not giving a crap.
      Then it’s no wonder why their clients pre-maturely leave their contracts and are willing to pay left over fees all because they felt betrayed.

      It’s always those ‘fakes’ who are great at sales and bad at retention and referrals. In fact, they work harder than others and at the same time having nothing to show for it.

      Great in-depth comment Jai 🙂

    • I agree, spending time to find out your clients motivations and being ‘real’ with them goes a long way. I agree, excellent post John.

  3. I don’t think you can drive home that message far enough John. People simply don’t care. As soon as they grab your money, they don’t want know you anymore.

    As a personal trainer at least pretend to show that you care and are there for your clients well being because people cant even do that. Even as a customer, I figure a person is pretending, I still show appreciation because at least they’re going out of their way to impress me.

    I love your car salesman story. It’s so true and so funny. In fact, reading your posts ALL your stories are good.

    Cool post

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