Home How To Sell Personal Training 11 Ways To Make Clients Like And Trust You

11 Ways To Make Clients Like And Trust You

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
 – Ernest Hemingway

The fundamentals when selling Personal Training is being ‘real’ with your prospects.  Sometimes when following robotic scripts – people come across as cold.. as a person who doesn’t care about helping.  And all their interested is in the ‘process.’

Don’t forget… when selling Personal Training  – clients buy based on how they feel about the trainer.  Emotions first.  Logic second.

On one sunny afternoon…

As I sat there quietly preparing for my next client, to my left I heard a highly energetic woman enter the gym.

“Hi!, I’m here to see Candy the Personal Trainer.  I’ve got a free session with her.  I can’t wait to get started!”

At this point, everyone turned around to see who this person was.  Her energy was high and attractive and you can tell she wanted to get started right away.

Within 2 minutes, Candy comes along and says… “Hi, I’m Candy, I’ll be taking you through your sessions this week.  You must be Amelia”

“Yes I am.  Pleasure to meet you Candy.  Let me tell you, I’m excited to be here.  And I can’t wait to get started!”

Now the way Candy responded shocked everyone!

As soon as Amelia finished her sentence…Candy said…

“Come Amelia, let’s take a seat and I’ll run you through a pre-exercise questionnaire” – in a serious, non-smiling, not so glad to see her look.

Problem no. 1 –

  • ·       Candy did not match Amelia’s energy
  • ·       She did not re-assure her with a positive response
  • ·       She did not engage her with re-assuring small talk
  • ·       And did not come across as friendly
  • ·       I was only observing and I felt an instant energy crash…Imagine how Amelia (the prospect) felt

In other words, it seemed like Candy didn’t care that Amelia was there and was just running through the ‘process’ of what to do next on the checklist.  Candy came across as cold and of a less than caring nature.

You can even see it in Amelia’s reaction.  She changed from her super smile…to a ‘what just happened’ smile.

Candy guided her to a spare seat right next to mine and began her ‘interrogation’.  By interrogation, I mean… she came across as… “I don’t care what you have to say…just answer the questions and say no more”

She asked the EXACT questions on the pre-exercise questionnaire…word for word.  And the answers Amelia was giving were quite thorough.  This was the perfect time for Candy to elaborate and perhaps ask more questions and build more rapport with Amelia…but that didn’t happen.

What’s worse, at times Candy was literally ‘cutting off’ Amelia’s answers and proceeding to the next question on her photocopied scripted questions as if to say “the sheet in front of me is more important than you”.

It was only 5 minutes and from a scale of 1-10 of happiness and pleasure – Amelia came in at 10.  By comparison, she was now showing signs of 4-5.  She stopped smiling.  She stopped giving long answers.  She was put in a box, restricted and said ‘goodbye’ to her freedom to speak.

Chances are, by now she was saying to herself…”if I’m not allowed to express myself and if I’m going to be treated like this… not caring for what I have to say, obviously you’re not the Personal Trainer for me”

The third biggest mistake Candy made was pre-judging Amelia’s lifestyle.  Amelia had mentioned that she gets tired and stressed easily because of work.  Candy straight away jumped to the conclusion that her problem is her diet.  She said…

“We have to go over your diet and clean it up.  We have to get rid of all the junk food and replace it with clean food”

Amelia was shocked!

I can understand why:  First, Amelia clearly stated that it was her ‘work’ that was causing her stress and tiredness and not anything else.  Second, Candy totally disregarded her answer and automatically assumed it was her diet.  Thirdly, Candy didn’t ask any further questions to find out the core reason to why Amelia is feeling tired and stressed.  Fourth, Amelia didn’t mention anything about her diet…so how can Candy know it needs cleaning up or that she eats junk food. 

Amelia felt insulted.

As a PT, the fundamental key to selling Personal Training is finding out the core reason as to why your prospect has come to see you.

After the ‘interrogation’, Candy took Amelia for her first session.  Amelia did what she was told.  When it was time to book her in for the next session, Amelia said… “I’m busy for the next couple weeks, I’ll call you for our next session.”  She never called.  She cancelled her gym membership and probably lost faith in Personal Trainers.

Candy’s story is not unique.  Most Personal Trainers have perhaps gone through a similar procedure and wonder why their clientele is so small.

The lesson for today is build rapport by getting to know your prospect.  Become interested in what they have to say and allow them to elaborate.  Listening is twice as influential than talking.  By listening and showing that you care about what your prospect has to say, you come across as more genuine and trustworthy.  Your prospects will want to see you again and will instead MAKE EXCUSES TO SEE YOU more and more.

Today’s 11 important lessons:

  •        Match your prospects energy
  •        Make small talk to reduce anxiety and build comfort
  •        Re-assure your prospects with positive responses
  •        The Pre-exercise questionnaire is NOT more important than your prospect
  •        If you are using pre-exercise questioners…learn them by heart and don’t let it be a barrier between you and your prospect
  •        Allow your prospects to elaborate on their answers
  •        Don’t bluntly cut them off.  Instead elegantly guide them to your next question
  •        Ask more questions to find out the core reason as to why they are there to see you in the first place
  •        Don’t ever assume you know the answer to their problems without first asking questions
  •        Be a human being…because that’s who you are dealing with!
  •        Don’t try and act serious.  Prospects don’t like that.  Prospects and clients want to be around FUN people… especially if you are trying to sell your time with them


Dedicated In Accelerating Your PT Success Every Step Of The Way…

John Toumpakke

P.S. There’s another article in the series of selling Personal Training entitled How to sell Personal Training & How He Lost The Sale – check it out for more selling Personal Training tips


  1. That’s probably one of the most dramatic stories I’ve ever read. And sadly, it’s true. Those are the kinds of things us PT’s worry about. Keeping clients. Having loyal clients and making sure other ‘desperate’ PT’s don’t steal them away.

    I really feel for her. And you’re right John, skill doesn’t matter all that much. It’s about building that connection so clients will never leave you.

    You probably have the slickest writing style of all fitness blogs. You keep the reader wanting more and more.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

    – Clara

  2. You hit it right on Clara!

    Way too many trainers focus so much on ‘skill’ – they forget what really holds their business together… and that’s how to handle and treat customers right.

    Thanks for your comment Clara

  3. That is so true, the way that people’s energy affects you. I see it so many times where the client is exited and the trainer is half asleep, it makes you wounder.

    Thanks John for your tips to stop this from happening to me!

    • Probably the biggest factor in getting more sales is enthusiasm. Your observations are so true Michael!

      Then you have trainers who memorise sales scripts and just keep talking – never shutting up!

      If you feel like you’re talking too much during your sales presentation… your chances of getting the sale are near none.

      I’ve seen it so many damn times, it isn’t funny anymore. The no.1 rule is listening. No. 2 is asking questions – revealing your truly caring nature.

      As soon as you assume and believe you ‘know what’s right’ for your prospect because you’re the ‘expert’ and they’re not – sets you up for a depressed business life and many lost sales.
      Remember, your prospect knows what she wants more than you could ever know. Ask questions and listen. You’ll be surprised how much your sales success grows.

      Thanks for your insightful comment Michael 🙂

  4. I know John!

    I just hate it when I speak to someone and they don’t understand me but pretend they do. It’s so true about matching the other persons energy. Because if you don’t, they feel like you just don’t care. And with sales, it’s the most important factor in being understood and trusted. Why would you give money otherwise?

    Super cool Post John. I LoVe It 🙂

    • Ashley, that’s so common!

      Energy matching is the number one rule for “convert me” sales tactics. Being in the service business means just that… to serve others. And if people don’t bother getting in rapport with their prospect, then the disconnection takes over – and excuses happen. If they’re excited, you be thrilled also. If they come in with low energy, then you also match them. They gotta be in line with you otherwise they won’t buy.

      Very interesting point Ashley. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  5. Another great inspiring story John. All points hit home with me. Sales doesn’t have to be complicated as people make it out to be!

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