Selling the Older Client

“If I’d have known I would live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

That’s how the saying goes. It couldn’t be more true today even of younger generations. Smoking, poor eating and drinking habits, lack of exercise and then constant complaints about how they feel or the diseases they’ve got.

Last week a severely overweight new member with several conditions (thankfully she at least joined the club) turned down an introductory package of personal training sessions, the lowest rate available to her for just three sessions to at the least get her off to a right start. She needed 35 sessions in truth. After nodding yes, yes yes in agreement she said “no” because she was going to go shopping. Her email address? Shopahaul….

So, yes, it can be tough slugging out there. Keep swinging. This is one instance where there is no time for tact. You can’t talk to a prospect above with a “I’d love to work with you” kind of spiel and expect to get her attention. Truth is if she continues down the path she is on right now, she won’t live long enough to use or wear out whatever it was that she felt that she needed to buy at the mall. Her current habits and lifestyle are going to kill her. She took one positive step by joining the club. But it isn’t going to do the work for her. And 5 or more decades on the planet of doing the wrong thing are not going to cause a membership card to change things. She needs help to make behavior change.

Somewhere someone wrongly wrote that it takes 21 or 28 days to change a habit. It was an interpretation that isn’t correct. The research on behavior changes says 66 days. Even that though- if you’re talking to someone closer to 66 years old than not, is a short time. While they’re in that time zone of change you need to be there whispering in their ear and reinforcing what they’re doing.

They want to like you. In fact they have to like you, to trust you, and believe you care about them and want what they want. They want to know that you know they want to be healthy for their grandchildren, for travel, for taking care of their own ailing parents or spouse. Then they will want to buy from you. They do not want to be sold. But you can not tiptoe around what is important. They see right through it.

A woman near retirement age called me the other day after one of my staff trainers had performed an “ultimate assessment” with her. She said “I wanted to talk to you about that. It felt a little like a scam, as if it was to sell me personal training.”

I responded with a question. “Was there anything that she identified that you needed to work on? Any compensations or weaknesses?” The woman said yes, that there were several things that she agreed she needed to work on and made sense to her.

I said, “then it was the trainer’s job to suggest that if she could help you a game plan for doing that. We know most people won’t do the corrective exercises on their own. We fully believe everyone can benefit from training sessions as a little of the right kind of exercise is more important than a lot of exercise.”

I’d much rather field a call like that, knowing that our trainers are truly working on helping a client than to simply have clients walk away with issues but not be able to change those issues on their own. We have the responsibility to help if we have the ability to help.

Stop worrying about offending someone and start worrying about letting someone leave with issues and conditions they don’t know how to handle themselves.


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