18 January 2021

The truth is, most PT’s graduate from their course with no idea they are about to start a career in sales! We study because we are passionate about helping others, and we live and breathe health and fitness... but where was the part in the brochure about selling sessions?

If you think you are going to graduate and instantly have full books packed with clients, I’m here to say sorry, that won’t be the case. Unfortunately, no matter how skilled of a trainer you are, your skills will not just sell themselves! Sales and marketing are a huge portion of having a successful personal training career. Despite what you see on social media, the first six months as a personal trainer can be a grind of one step forwards, three steps back. New trainers get onto the gym floor and are suddenly dumped with the realisation that this job is not the easy money-maker that every “online trainer” on Instagram led them to believe. The fear of rejection and failure set in, and instead of seeking further education on business, sales, and marketing, they throw in the towel. It is thought that up to 90% of personal trainers leave the industry within their first year of business - an alarming statistic! It doesn’t have to be this way! With some simple planning and educating yourself on basic sales and marketing skills, you can take steps towards building a rewarding, sustainable and profitable career. The first step to creating a flourishing personal trainer career is to set some goals and create a plan to achieve them! We have covered goal-setting in previous articles (insert link?) so today we are going to go over how to create a sales and marketing plan for your business.

What’s your point of difference?

To start, you need to identify your point of difference (POD); that is, what sets you apart from all the other personal trainers out there? Is it your own health and fitness journey? Your excellence in a sporting field? Your knowledge in a particular subject area? The niche market that you excel within? There are a million women and men on the internet selling the best abs or bigger booty programs - so if that’s your POD, I suggest you think again as it’s already a saturated market. Do yourself a favour and spend some time discovering what truly sets you apart from the crowd. We are all unique, and the number one selling technique I can give you is to be yourself. As the great Dr Seuss said, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.”

What are your Vision and Mission?

It’s essential to know your business vision and mission. Your business vision will let your clients understand your business purpose and long-term goals, and your vision statement will outline your goals for the future and how you will achieve these. A great example of a vision statement is from Microsoft: “A computer on every desk and in every home”. Your mission statement also describes your business goals but also includes your target market, business values, what kind of service you provide, how you provide this, and why.  With a great mission statement, your customer should be able to understand your service and what your company values are in just a couple of sentences. For example, here’s PayPal’s mission statement: “To build the web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.”

Both your vision and mission statement should be reviewed yearly to check that they still align with your business values and the current services you are providing. Having an excellent understanding of your vision and mission is crucial to building your brand and niche market, as it will influence the way you operate, your ideal clientele, and the goals you seek to achieve. Sharing your vision and mission with your customers through your social media, website, or branding can improve your sales and marketing as it shows current and potential clients what your business is all about. 

Who is your target market?

The next step is to identify your ‘niche’ or target market. Advertising to a niche market is a sales strategy that focuses on targeting advertising to a specific portion of the market, rather than spending money and time marketing to everyone. With this strategy, you invest into customers who are the most likely to benefit from, and buy, your services - and you’re less likely to waste money marketing to people who aren’t interested.

When you initially become a personal trainer, you won’t know exactly who your target market is. Although you may have some idea of who you want to train, my suggestion is to engage with as many unique clients as possible so you can get an idea of who your niche market will become. How will you know who this will be? You will have clients where you look at your diary and are excited about training them; these are the clients who you instantly gel with, they show up on time, pay on time, do the homework you set and whom you genuinely enjoy coaching week-to-week. We will call these your A+ clients. Next, you will have the clients who are always late, never pay on time and don’t do their homework sessions or follow any of your advice; these clients are often the first to complain that it ‘isn’t working,’ despite not following your advice. These are your F clients - the ones you look at your diary and think “Oh no, not them today.”  Of course, you will have clients that fall in between A and F.

Generally, we enjoy training those clients who share similar goals and ambitions with ourselves. That isn’t to say your target market cannot be completely different to what you enjoy, but it’s a good place to start. Look at common trends within your A+ client base to identify who future clients within your niche may be. When you’re looking at your A+ clients, think about:

●        How old are they?

●        What do they do for work?

●        What is their educational background?

●        What is their gender?

●        What is their average income?

●        Where do they live?

●        Who do they live with?

●        What are their hobbies?

●        What is their current lifestyle?

The common themes between your A+ clients will help you to build a profile of your ideal target customer. Once you have identified what a customer within your niche market looks like, you can begin to target your sales directly to this specific portion of the market and avoid wasting money advertising to the wrong demographic.

Be the solution to their problem

Ask yourself about your target market. What are their goals or needs? What are their barriers to health and fitness? What problems do they have that you can solve? This is your golden sales ticket: identifying a problem and providing a solution. For example, your target market may be women aged 30-50, who work in a sedentary office job, live with their family or spouse, and like to drink with their friends on the weekends. They have tried every diet and exercise regime but never stick to it for more than a few weeks (problem), they feel intimidated by the gym and don’t enjoy fitness (barrier to exercise), but they want to lose 10kg and feel more confident (goal). You can be the solution to their problems, and remove their barriers to exercise, by creating a program that will guide them with their exercise and nutritional habits and hold them accountable to their goals. Educating this market on ditching the ‘all or nothing’ approach that has failed them for so long, and teaching them that small yet consistent changes will bring long-term results.

Creating successful programs that reap real, long-term results within your target market can help boost your sales, no matter which population you specialise in. These clients will become your biggest business billboard, and word-of-mouth referrals will come flying through the door from their friends and family, making you the local expert within your niche market. 

Build brand awareness

Over time, as you have more and more success within your niche market, you can build your brand awareness. Brand awareness is when a company is recognised for a specific product or service that they provide by their name. Some brands become so large that their product name replaces the generic term for the item or service - for example, when you order a soft drink at a restaurant, do you ask for a cola or a Coke? Brand awareness could mean clients choosing your service over someone more expensive, being able to recall what your service is known for, or followers instantly recognising your content on social media. You can build your brand through several avenues such as social media, client referrals, business cards, websites, and branding on clothing, vehicles or business cards. A cost-effective way of building brand awareness is to create a custom hashtag for your business, e.g. #justdoit by Nike. Hashtags or taglines are best kept short (2-3 words maximum) so they are easy for customers to use. Using your hashtag under every post, and encouraging your clients to use it on their Instagram stories or workout posts, is a quick and easy way to start building brand awareness.

Don’t just sell 24/7

Post regularly to social media, but don’t just post about sales - that’s a sure way to have people unfollow you very quickly! Instead, give value back to your loyal followers. Provide your followers on social media with more value than sales. They may not buy your service now, but research shows that we are more likely to buy from those we know and trust; it might feel like you are preaching to the blind, but you’re actually building up trust with potential customers. Instead of daily ‘buy my training program’ posts, here are some examples of high-value content you could provide:

●        Free workouts or recipes.

●        Education about a common fitness myth.

●        Film video demonstrations of commonly mistaken exercises.

●        Client testimonials and success stories.

This will keep your followers engaged in your content; the more they engage, the more they see it! Social media is a whole article on its own, but one piece of advice I got given early on in my career that still stands true was to ask yourself these two questions before you post.

“Is this positive or negative?”
It’s ok to be real and share some struggles with your followers and clients as this can create connections with clients and show them you are not perfect. However, it is part of a personal trainer’s role to motivate and uplift people, so make sure the good far outweighs the bad.
“Does this align with my brand?”
Before you go to make a quick buck by promoting a skinny tea, ask yourself: does this align with my brand’s vision and mission?


This one goes without saying! Network with other allied health professionals, beauty therapists, baristas or anyone who shares similar values or missions. You can create referral networks by swapping services, referring clients to one another or simply keeping a stack of each other’s business cards in an obvious place for customers to see. It is important not to have referral systems with just anyone; aside from good quality business cards not being cheap, only referring to professionals whose values align with your own will generate a higher return, as their customers are more likely to fit within your target market. Try not to have more than one of each profession that you share a referral network with, otherwise you customer may not truly trust your recommendation and vice versa.

Follow up on leads, track conversions and retention

A lead is a person who is interested in your service. Leads may come through social media, email, the gym you work in, your website or from current clients. You should treat every lead like a golden ticket to a new client! Take your time to build rapport with them before selling to them. You should keep a record of your interactions with the lead, follow up on communications, and track lead conversions (the percentage of leads that turn into paying clients) to show the success of your marketing investment. There is no point spending valuable funds on marketing if it is failing to bring in paying clients; if your marketing isn’t working, try a different approach. The same goes for your client retention (how many clients continue to train with you); you should be keeping a record of how many clients you have on your books each month so you can pick up on common trends and fix any issues that may be occurring. It is far easier to keep great clients than constantly find new ones.

Break it down

Sales and marketing may seem like a daunting task. You may feel like throwing in the towel when it all seems too hard - but don’t! Building a client base takes time and effort. Set goals, figure out what you want to achieve within the fitness industry - whether that be work with athletes or training beginners - make a plan and stay true to yourself, your core values and your clients. Find your niche within the fitness industry, use networking contacts to build your client base, and work on building a reputable brand that you and your clients are proud to represent. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Just like we would tell our clients: small, consistent efforts will reap long term rewards. In this case, your reward will be loyal and dedicated clients.

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Libby Searle