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Ask the Experts – February 2016



I could use your help. I am only converting about a third of my trial memberships to fulltime students. At the end of their trial I offer them a month to month plan or they can save by signing up for a year membership. Can you give me a few pointers on how to close more of my trials?


Terry, Sacramento, CA


The first step is the most important step, the interview. You cannot sell someone if you don’t know what they are looking for. Sit down with the prospect (if a child then the parent) and find out who they are. Why are they at your school? What are they looking to gain by training with you? You need to record all this information. The more information you can get out of them the better. Now you will have the issues that need to be addressed when closing them to become a member of your school. DO NOT SHORT CUT THIS STEP! (We can go over proper interview techniques later)


Too many school owners meet, greet and throw the prospect into the back of a beginner class. They give the prospect a little attention but not enough to sway them. By putting the prospect in the back of a few classes you usually will not show them that they can reach their goals. This is why you interview them to discover what their goals are. The prospect has to, by what they go through in your trial, be able to envision themselves achieving their aspirations. For example, if they come in because they really want to learn how to defend themselves, then take them aside and show them some cool self-defense techniques. If the parent wants their child to learn self-discipline and motivation then take the child aside, where the parent can hear you give them a talk about these topics. Let the parent see that you can help achieve their goals. I can go on with a bunch more examples but I think you get the picture. The trial session(s) has a limited time. During this period, the prospect or parent has to see that their goals can and will be met. I can’t say this enough. A couple of times at the back of a normal class usually will not do the trick. If the prospect is a child there are additional factors. You want the child begging the parent to join. Usually, regular classes are not super fun but necessary. So at some point you need them to have a great deal of fun. There are many fun ways to do drills. If you are not familiar with them then do so. I once had a parent come up to me and tell me they had never seen so many people laughing while doing push-ups! (Right after back to being serious). One way or the other, you need to be sure the child enjoys the activity.


Another big factor is, how well does the prospect feel welcome? I like to give the prospect a buddy. A buddy is one of my students that has a great attitude. After the interview I call the buddy over to meet the prospect. If the prospect is an adult the buddy is an adult. If the prospect is a child the buddy is a child. The buddy takes the prospect over to meet everyone in class. Train your class to be courteous and respectful. They should meet the prospect with respect and enthusiasm. For every trial class the buddy is there to greet the prospect. I am sure you can come up with other ways to make the prospect feel a part of your school. If the prospect is a child, introduce their parent to some of your more supportive parents. The more welcome they feel the more likely you will have a new member.


You spend a lot of time and money getting people in to try your product. You need to spend more time on the process of keeping them. Plan it out and execute.