What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right? Wrong. What many wellness business THINK they know about sales and marketing CAN hurt them. These 10 sales myths can take a bite out of your business and your bottom-line.
1. A good lead list = instant customers
We get quite a few calls from folks who want to buy a health and wellness lead list from us. First, we don’t sell lists. We buy lists for clients for direct mail programs on occasion, but we get them from list specialists.
More importantly, though, buying random lists is not a guarantee of success. In fact, it’s pretty much a guarantee of failure. Many lead lists are scavenged from directories and compiled by unskilled workers. Information often isn’t verified.
Even when contact info is verified, and your list comes from a reputable list broker, there’s no guarantee that these contacts actually have an interest in your corporate wellness programs or health club promotions. List marketing is a shotgun approach — it’s like sweeping a huge net through the ocean in hopes of finding enough fish to make a sandwich.
Now, filtering the list — by demographics, interests and so forth — and sending multiple, strategically sequenced communications over several months, will give you better results.
However: you still have to market your programs and services on an ongoing basis. A single communication won’t accomplish anything. So don’t spend all your time and money simply building or buying the list!
If your goal is more local customers, start with understanding who your prospects really are, what motivates them, and when they become ready to buy. Understand the fears and anxieties at each step of the buying process that hold them back. Create answers for each of their questions and give them opportunities to take specific small actions like grabbing a targeted brochure or completing a short self-assessment.
This is work that’s at the core of your business. It directly drives revenue, and you can get outside help to do it.
2. Magic words can close the sale RIGHT NOW
Gym memberships may be a commodity, but health, wellness, and fitness are personal, individual, and emotional. People dwell on these decisions long before they actually do anything.
Prospective customers’ minds are often aswim with conflicting thoughts and feelings about wellness:
Should I go on a diet? I hate diets! What’s going to help me lose weight fast? What if I just jump into it — will that help me succeed or will it give me a heart attack? Will I still be doing this 6 months from now? When am I going to find time to work out? I hate working out — it’s sweaty, uncomfortable, and I can’t breathe! People will see my thunder-thighs or the jigglefest on the treadmill. I don’t want people staring at me. What kind of clothes should I wear? Just how many carbs are OK if I try to go low carb? I don’t like kale! The diet my nutritionist suggested has TINY portions and none of the food I like! Will your trainers treat me the same as their Ironman finishers — because if they do, I’m outta here…”
In our industry, the best you can do is to nudge your customer toward the next step. Stay top of mind so when they’re ready, they still remember you exist. Good sales copy answers questions and lays doubt to rest as they process questions like the ones we listed above:
– Our program is a way of eating that doesn’t punish you for what you like, and one you can manage on your own.
– You didn’t gain weight fast, and the healthiest way to lose it is through a combination of gradual changes. YOU CAN DO THIS, and we can help.
– If your doctor says you’re healthy enough to begin an exercise program, we’ll start easy, watch and listen for signs you’re overdoing it, and we’ll make progress together.
– Wear whatever you like as long as you’re comfortable in it! A lot of our regulars like fabrics like “Dri-weave” or “ColdBlack.” Ask us for recommendations.
– You don’t have to eat kale if you don’t like it. Just pick what you like from our list of healthy choices, or ask one of our experts to help you create something special!
– We help our customers craft personal fitness goals that are reachable, rewarding, and customized to every individual’s preference and level of fitness.
In sales, the idea that you can just shout louder at your prospect and things will snap into place is called “pushing string.” It’s better if there’s some kind of pull on the other end. That demand is what your marketing — from web content to email newsletters to FAQs to flyers — creates.
Because the secret is that the right copy closes the sale only when your customer is actually ready to buy anyway.
3. There is a Perfect System
There are principles that work. And con artists who specialize in scamming naive entrepreneurs will charge you thousands of dollars for the opportunity to “learn at the feet of the master,” using an overcomplicated system involving cross-promotion with their other clients, canned webinars, lame e-books, and their Patented Sales Pitches for Every Situation.
I get it. When you look at your business, as it is today — and scan the horizon for prospective customers, all of whom seem far, far away — you can’t see how to get there from here. It looks hard. Very hard.
It IS hard.
But it’s NOT complicated, it’s NOT magic, and your time is better invested in learning what makes your own prospects tick than listening to some fast talker pushing his Universal Sales System.
Do your homework, or find someone who can help you do it. Look at how your target customer communicates, what motivates them, what they say they like about the products and services they buy, and what makes them hesitate.
Then model the process they’ll go through when looking for answers, and get to work answering those questions so your business is ready when they discover you.
4. 100 (or 100,000) leads = 100 (100,000) customers
No. Do the math. What are the odds that every single person who expresses interest in your programs:
- Matches your “best customer” profile
- Is ready to buy now
It seems counter-intuitive, but one of the most important functions of marketing is to FILTER OUT people who aren’t really candidates for your programs and services.
In fact, one of the most valuable things you can do in your sales collateral is explain why your product isn’t for everyone. It establishes clearly who it’s for, encourages prospects to “qualify out” (meaning only “real” ones contact you), and it instills a certain air of exclusivity. Then, when your prospects reach out to you, they already know why they’re calling or emailing and what to expect.
Those are real prospects.
5. Everyone who contacts you will become a customer
Some of the people who walk into your studio or visit your website will be competitors, market research people, sales lead gatherers, tire-kickers, disinterested browsers, or (in the case of the web) not even human. Don’t get too excited about traffic unless you see buying signs.
Buying signs aren’t necessarily questions about prices, product and service offerings. Customers who are looking to buy usually have specific objectives in mind, and certain doubts or misconceptions that are holding them back.
For instance, that 35-ish runner who’s looking for an open-water swimming coach for her first Olympic distance triathlon in October, but has never swum anywhere except her gym pool. That 50-ish guy who’s decided he needs to lose 30 pounds SOMEHOW but can’t figure out whether that’s through diet, cardio training, or CrossFit. The busy mom who’s looking for a way to manage stress on a tightly restricted schedule, doesn’t know anything about yoga but is curious, yet can’t find a studio that’s open nights and doesn’t want to “get into all that Eastern spirituality stuff.”
When someone walks through the door, begin by listening to understand. Don’t try to force a sale on everyone who walks in the door.
6. Nobody “gets” us
It’s easier to explain away customer disinterest than it is to examine your own vision, philosophy, and actions. It’s painful to consider the possibility that your approach to customer communications is flat-out misguided, to ask what’s wrong with your marketing, sales, customer service, and even internal operations. Even more painful to consider that perhaps, no one else likes your idea as much as you do.
True, only YOU have a business vision that’s part gym, part empowerment movement, and part fun and games for grown-ups. But if you’re constantly frustrated that “no one gets it,” then you’ve got to ask: Is this really a shared dream, or just your own nirvana? If it’s a shared dream, are you communicating it clearly and in the right places?
A skilled sales and marketing consultant will listen, pick up on what makes the dream come alive, and help you create a message that makes it resonate in the minds of qualified prospects. In the process, you may even discover that your prospects aren’t who you think they are. That’s even better!
If you find yourself constantly having to explain what your message is really supposed to mean — to a consultant, to another business owner, or to a prospective customer, then you used the wrong words in your sales and marketing collateral.
And that’s probably why they don’t “get” you.
7. Implementing sales, marketing, or lead-gen automation is a sure win
Only for the people selling it.
Software developers have a saying: automation applied to a broken process only breaks it faster. It doesn’t fix it.
The same is true of any product you buy to enhance your sales process. If you aren’t already good at identifying your target audience, building leads, and communicating throughout the sales process until the close, anything you buy will just distract you from figuring out and fixing your process.
Our advice: sit down with your team, go over what you’re doing now, why it is and isn’t working, and work out the kinks. Then worry about scaling up and automating.
8. If you give away enough product, people will pay money for it
Yes and no. If you give away free bite-sized samples of low-carb, gluten-free coconut cheesecake, people including me will line up for free cheesecake.
But — if the only size available is the $35 4-pound deep-dish family-size and I live alone, I’m not gonna buy it. The point is, the product may be THE EXACTLY RIGHT THING for the customer and still fail on size, price, or some other unseen aspect. The giveaways may not generate more than temporary interest.
We talked to a wellness provider recently who offered free mini-sessions. They had zero sales as a result of the sessions, and couldn’t understand why. Even worse, these sessions actually cost them cash out of pocket because they involved third-party services in addition to their own people.
What we found was that after that just one mini-session they wanted a serious commitment from prospects, in the thousands of dollars. Yet there were no next steps other than “buy now.” They offered no payment options, no real-world success stories, and didn’t address obvious concerns — “What if I can’t make a session?” In fact, they provided very little concrete information about what the services actually involved. In truth, they were just giving away skimpy versions of their core offerings, failing to build curiosity and interest in wanting more, and thereby undercutting future revenue opportunities. We call that “eating your own seed corn.”
Giveaways should foster a need and pique interest in the full range of your products and services. They should offer enough value to create a sense of obligation (I got this free, so I kind of feel like I owe you at least a visit) while giving you a chance to talk to someone who might actually have deeper interest.
A free 15 minute consultation while you discuss your qualified prospect’s needs and explore ways your program can help them is an investment in return business. A free service giveaway is…nothing but a giveaway.
9. If prospects are interested, they’ll act right away
Yes, but… That action might be to download a brochure, stick it underneath the to-do list on the fridge, and read it in three months when they reorganize a kitchen cabinet. It might be to visit your website, take a look at your address, and put making a visit on their to-do list — AFTER they take the family to Disney World, pay a few bills, and get the kids off to summer school.
A lot of wellness businesses confuse action that’s immediate — but short of a sale — with disinterest. That’s wrong.
Instead, you should reframe continued interest as active involvement in the sales process.
Your job is give interested prospects attractive and easy next steps. Give them a reason to take that next step, and the next, and the next, until there’s nothing left to do but sign on the bottom line.
You can’t control the timing — but you CAN control the process.
You can pre-answer common questions on your website. You can ask folks to qualify themselves as leads by providing basic information in order to download a detailed class schedule. You can ask folks to come in pick out a gi so you can have it waiting for them when they come in for their free introductory karate session.
The last step you take should be to get out of the way and let them sign up. That might mean making sure your staff picks up the phone, calls back promptly, responds quickly to emails, or that online registration immediately confirms their sign-up and gives them something to look forward to.
10. Shared interests = interest in your products and services
Don recently met with a trainer for a major U.S. gym chain who had fantastic credentials working with budding Ironman athletes. They both shared an interest in endurance sports and talked for almost an hour about different approaches to swim training, multisport training, and the training level of people he’d be joining up with on their open water swims and bricks.
But they got out of synch with each other talking about nutrition. Don has Type 1 diabetes. Carbohydrates are absolutely essential during long swims to avoid dangerous blood sugar drops. Instead of listening to understand (remember my point above?), this guy launched into a “carbs are bad” lecture, and he didn’t modify his thinking when Don pointed out that he was diabetic.
This is where they parted company. They’re both enthusiastic about endurance sports — but he and his program aren’t right for Don.
As a business owner, it’s important to understand with certain prospects when to disengage and move on. That doesn’t have to be as blunt as, “Oh… sorry. I… didn’t realize you weren’t looking for weight loss.” It can simply be returning the conversation to a lighthearted exchange, or an exhortation to come by any time if they have questions about objectives you DO have in common.
The bottom line: There are no shortcuts to building a sustainable sales funnel and a successful model for business growth. It always, always begins by understanding what’s special about what you do, who your best customers really are, how they think and feel, and how and where you can best connect with them. If you bring it outside help, THOSE are the questions they should help you answer. Any promises to the contrary are nothing more than snake oil.