Grow Your Nutrition Business Podcast Episode 58: Nailing Your Free Intro

In this episode, Sherman Merricks from Lasso Marketing and Nicole Aucoin dive into the consultative selling process and nailing your free intro!
The #1 way to grow a nutrition program in a gym is getting new people bought in on nutrition on day one.
Can you get existing members on board? Yes, but it takes time.
Listen to this episode to learn how to nail your free intro and increase sign-ups for nutrition and fitness programs.

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Introducing The Nutrition Made Simple Podcast

Simple & Actionable Tips To Help You Become A Healthier Version Of Yourself

New Episode Every Wednesday
This Week’s Episode: 4 Nutrition Tips For Healthy Families

See Nutrition Coaching In Action
Meet The Campbell Family

They are probably just like you and your family — busy juggling work, kids and all of life’s activities. 
They wanted help creating a plan to get healthy in the new year so they signed up for Family Nutrition Coaching with Healthy Steps Nutrition. 
To inspire other families to make health a way of life, we are documenting their entire journey — starting with an initial meeting. 
If you are curious about how a nutrition coach could help you and your family, watch this video. 

In This Video, Nicole & Jason, The Owners of Healthy Steps Nutrition, Meet The Campbell Family To Start Their Nutrition Journey.
See How It Works & How They Create A Plan Together By Watching This Video.

Additional FREE Help Related To
Launching A Nutrition Program

  • LISTEN: How To Price & Package Your Nutrition Program HERE
  • LISTEN: Inside The Nutrition Program At CrossFit Brighton & How Nutrition Coach, Darcie Helped Brent Lose 100 Pounds HERE
  • LISTEN: Nutrition Made Simple Podcast – CrossFit, Nutrition & Your Health HERE
  • HSN Mentoring Client Highlight: Meet Rob & Beth Young, Owners of CrossFit Rockland, How A 11-Year CrossFit Affiliate Changed Their Business Model To Prioritize Nutrition & Health Of Their Clients HERE

Join The Facebook Group:
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Simple tips to help you build nutrition into your gym

Connect with other gym owners who are looking to build nutrition programs

Episode Transcript:

Nicole Aucoin (00:01):
Welcome back to the Grow Your Nutrition Business podcast. At Healthy Steps Nutrition, we believe something as fundamental as nutrition shouldn’t it be complicated. We help gym owners and coaches build successful nutrition programs without reinventing the wheel. I’m your host, Nicole Aucoin, registered dietitian and founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, CrossFit HSN, and HSN mentoring. I’m also the author of the Basics Of Nutrition Coaching CrossFit Preferred Nutrition course. I’m going to teach you how to take one step at a time to build a successful nutrition program where you finally feel confident talking about nutrition to your members and your communities. Every entrepreneur deserves marketing solutions and business coaching to grow their company and increase their revenue. The problem is most gym owners and coaches have a passion for helping people, but they have no idea how to get people to buy their services. Today’s podcast is brought to you by our friends at LASSO.

Nicole Aucoin (01:08):
I’ve known Sherman, one of the owners for LASSO for about five years. When I think of sales training, he is the first person that comes to mind. We know that the number one way to grow a nutrition program in a gym is getting people bought in on nutrition on day one. Can you get existing members on board with your nutrition program? Yes, of course, but it takes time. New members are looking to you as the expert to create a path to help them achieve their goals. The best path to help people achieve health and weight loss goals is through nutrition and fitness. In this episode, Sherman and I dive into the consultative selling process and your free intro. Are you looking for a free intro form and a free training on your free intro? Click the link in the show notes and you’ll get access to it immediately.

Nicole Aucoin (02:04):
We will get to this episode on nailing your free intro with Sherman right after this message. HSN mentoring is a turnkey solution to save you time and not reinvent the wheel when it comes to building a nutrition program from scratch. HSN mentoring starts with the training process, that includes online modules, homework, and six mentoring calls. The training teaches you how to set up your nutrition program, how to market your nutrition program, how to coach clients using a habit based approach, and most importantly, how to retain them. Lastly, we discuss how to run a nutrition challenge. Most importantly, after that challenge, what happens with their clients? We teach you how to convert those people to ongoing coaching after the challenge is over. The training includes two subscriptions for the owner and a coach. It’s easy to get started. Just book a free call so can learn more about how we can help you. From there, if it’s a great fit, we’ll give you access to sign up and you can get through the training and launch your program in as little as four to six weeks. All right, let’s get to this episode on nailing your free intro.

Nicole Aucoin (03:16):
Sherman Merricks, welcome to the Grow Your Nutrition Business podcast. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Sherman Merricks (03:22):
Absolutely. Thanks for having me back, always a great time. I’m excited to chat with you today.

Nicole Aucoin (03:28):
We have an awesome topic and such an important topic to talk about, and really it dives into the sales process and the free introduction, such a common question that we get asked often from gym owners. But before we do that, tell me a little bit about yourself and your gym, because you have so many different roles. You’re a gym owner, you were an athlete first.

Sherman Merricks (03:49):
Yeah.

Nicole Aucoin (03:49):
Now, you help other gyms with their marketing and sales. You have all the hats that you wear. Talk to me a little bit about your story.

Sherman Merricks (03:56):
Yeah, so I started the gym eight or nine years ago in Gainesville, Florida in my garage, back when you can start a gym in a garage and it still end up being successful. So, I started with that and I fell into love with CrossFit in the typical fashion, right? A friend invited me over, I got my butt spanked, then I figured out that there were ladies doing heavier weight than me, and I’m too competitive for that. So I was just like, “I got to get good at this CrossFit thing.” So, doing it a couple of years and I figured out, Oh, I can open up a gym. And the barrier to entry was just so low. I was just like, “Oh, a couple of thousand dollars or so and I can do it out in my garage.”

Sherman Merricks (04:38):
It’s a no brainer, just give it a try. So, got into it and then it started growing. Then obviously, this entire time I’m still working out and figuring out. That’s when the gains was really on a huge trajectory, and with me being an ex college athlete, blah, blah, blah, I got into the competitive side of it, ended up going to regionals and competing, and blah, blah, blah, all of that. This entire time I was still tuned into my gym, and I was still focused on growing it because I was the sole income earner. So, yes, you can compete and all that, but one, I wasn’t good enough to make money from CrossFit, two I knew, Hey, you still got to make money because if not, your wife and kids don’t eat. So, that was that balance.

Sherman Merricks (05:18):
We just continued to grow, continue to grow. For a little while there, I was working with another mentoring company helping gyms, and then we transitioned to creating our own thing, LASSO Framework to help. It started off helping gyms mainly with their sales and marketing. And now, as you know, we’ve become StoryBrand certified guys and now we’re just stretched out. We’re working with counseling, and gyms, and just everything. So, it’s really been phenomenal. It’s been a great, great experience getting involved with the CrossFit brand, and just growing into what it is today as far as me personally.

Nicole Aucoin (05:58):
Absolutely. And a conversation that I’ve had with you many times is about the free intro in the sales process, right? You figured it out how that needs to run within your own gym, taught your own people how to do it, and then taught many other gyms how to get comfortable with an uncomfortable conversation. I mean, we open gyms to help people, we want to help people see results, but we also know that money is the lifeline to our business, and we need to make some revenue. So, having that fine balance, talk to me about that process. Tell me, what do you think is the biggest mistake gym owners make in the sales process?

Sherman Merricks (06:41):
Okay. So, like you’re saying, the free intro is super important, right? Especially with the way CrossFit has grown. Back in the day when we did it, it was sort of a underground fight club type thing, right? So, when someone comes in, it’s like, “You’re going to do this workout and if you don’t die, you can join the gym,” right? But now, it’s not like that anymore. Now it’s like, these people are coming in, they want to they want to be in great shape, they want to lose weight, they want to feel better, maybe they have ongoing injuries. So, the free intro is super important so we can get to know these clients. Basically we are the professionals, right? This is one of the mistakes I see a lot of gyms making. We’re the professionals, so we tell them the best step forward, they don’t tell us.

Sherman Merricks (07:25):
So, I would say a couple mistakes that I see happening quite often is people are not doing free intros, they’re just letting people jump into the class, right? To me, I just can’t even really imagine that, right? You have 45 year old male, ex college athlete, that was 25 years ago. They come in with a certain mindset and I’m just using that because it’s easy, but you can’t just let them jump into a class like they don’t know they still remember that stuff, but they come in and go too hard, go too fast, maybe tweak something and they don’t have a great experience. That’s going to hurt them and the business long-term, right? So, one of the biggest mistakes is just letting people walk in off the street and jump into a class. I’m anti walk in and jump into a class.

Sherman Merricks (08:13):
Two, people that are doing the sales, they really project their budget onto the people sitting in front of them. This is a major problem, right? Because unfortunately, I think a lot of gyms could be much more profitable. They sort of think, well, I couldn’t afford 300, 400, 500 dollars a month, so there’s no way this person can afford it. It makes it very difficult when you project your feelings onto someone else, right? Because what if they come back with something that they’re unsure about? It doesn’t mean that they don’t want to do it, it just means they’re unsure. And if you’re not confident, you’re going to be, “Oh, well,” then it just sort of go south, right? Here’s the thing that I’ve seen over the years, I learned this early on in my gym ownership experience, if I don’t really, really let them know the best option to move Forward, I’ve done them a huge disservice, right?

Sherman Merricks (09:14):
I’ve seen it happen to thousands of gyms. Someone comes in, right, you basically just sell them the cheapest option you have, they’re like, “Oh, thank you. I’m ready to get going.” And three months later, they’re like, “Hey Nicole, I really like you, your gym is great, but I’m not getting the results I want, I’m going to stop for a while, or I’m going to go to another gym because my friend, Susie, she lost 10 pounds last month.” And then you say, “No, no, no. We have nutrition here, we have personal training.” But, it’s already too late. As opposed to if you sit down with them in the beginning and say, “Hey Sherman, listen. I think you should do three times a week personal training plus customized nutrition with our registered dietician, Nicole. You’re guaranteed. It’s pretty much fail proof, man, so do that.”

Sherman Merricks (10:01):
Even if they say no, that’s fine, but they know that there’s another option. So, if they come to you two months later for athlete check in, you can be like, “Well remember, I told you that we had something better. You said it was a little out of budget, which I get. But, how about we try that for 60 days, two months, and if you don’t get the results maybe it is time to try another gym and try something else.” So, really telling people the best option for them, regardless of the price, is the way to go. Because then, they can’t come to you and say, “Well, when I came here, I told you I wanted to lose weight and you told me to do this.” Because I’ve had it happen too often.

Sherman Merricks (10:35):
Even for me, I was like, “Well, I didn’t want to tell you it’s $700, what if you didn’t join in?” So, not telling people the exact thing to do because they’re projecting their budget. And three, this is going to be the last one for right now. People are not practicing their sales. Sales is a skill. There are some natural born salesman and saleswomen that just get it, right? I think I was one of those. However, I still practice all the time. I practice when I go to Best Buy, I just want to practice. So, I’m going to play the sort of game. My wife hates it. She hates it, but I love it, right? It’s just practicing and skills, and too often you have a athlete join your gym, they fall in love with the product, “Nicole, I want to coach here.” You’re like, “Absolutely.”

Sherman Merricks (11:25):
They go get a L1, they’re a great coach, they’re crushing it. They’re like, “Hey, I would love to do this full time.” You’re like, “Well, I don’t know. Let’s start you off with doing some of the admin stuff.” Next thing you know, they’re doing intros. They’ve never had any type of sales experience. Now, they’re sitting in front of people that they genuinely want to help, but now these people say, “Well, I don’t know about that, or no, I’m not doing that.” Now, they’re getting that crappy feeling, because no one’s signing up and they don’t know how to sell them on what they really need. Then, it’s just a nasty taste in their mouth. That’s why so many coaches and even owners say, “I’m not big on sales. I don’t like sales.” So, those are definitely the top three, for sure.

Nicole Aucoin (12:04):
I love that you talked about projecting. I remember talking to a gym owner and he was struggling building his nutrition program, and it came down to he was projecting how much the cost of was the nutrition program. And I’m like, “Well, what’s your membership rate?” He’s like, “225.” I was like, “Would you pay 225 for a CrossFit membership?” And he said, “No.” I’m like, “Okay, well then you’re not selling to yourself, you’re selling to the people that are in front of you. You’re projecting, we need to work backwards here, and you need to get more confident having this conversation that you’re guiding them to the best option.” I really love the way that you talked about all of that. The other piece of the puzzle that you mentioned, practice, role-playing making sure everyone’s comfortable with the options that you provide.

Nicole Aucoin (12:52):
I want to talk a little bit about something because you have the majority of the people coming in your gym sign up for nutrition and fitness. So, you’re packaging it together, it’s easy or guiding them to the option to get started with nutrition and fitness. And we know from working with hundreds of gym owners around the world, if you get people bought in on nutrition on day one, it is so much easier for you to build a nutrition program, for them to see amazing results, and for you to start getting more nutrition clients instead of trying to sell them on day 100 when they’re not going to buy.

Sherman Merricks (13:23):
Yeah. It’s tough. It’s tough, and I think we’ve been with you guys, we’ve been with HSN pretty much on the beginning I believe. It’s been so long, I don’t even know.

Nicole Aucoin (13:35):
Years, definitely years.

Sherman Merricks (13:36):
So, what we figured out through trial and error, talking to you, and all of that is that, even from a sales perspective, it is much easier to get them started again with exactly what they need, fitness and nutrition, so that really, one, they can get these great results. That’s really the name of the game. If people are getting results, let’s just say someone… I’ve had this happen hundreds of times. Someone comes in, I sit down with them, put them through an intro. I’m like, “Hey , what’s your budget?” They’re like, “Well, I can’t spend more than 300 bucks. There’s no way.” I’m just like, “Okay, it’s fine.” But obviously, nutrition and personal training is going to be more than $300 a month, and I show them that option, and I say, “Okay, so listen. How about we just try this for [inaudible 00:14:21] months.” Then, I know it’s a stretch, and they’re like, “Oh, okay. I’m going to give it a try because you talked about it and I really want these results.” So then, they do it.

Sherman Merricks (14:30):
So now, they’re already stretched. But then, what happens three months later when they’ve lost 25 pounds? Do they come back to me and say, “Well, I want to jump down to the cheapest membership because I told you it was a stretch.” No, now they’re getting results, so now they’re just like, “Hey, I’m going to figure out a way to make this work.” As opposed to that flip side, you have someone come in, they start in your gym, they start working out, you talk to them about nutrition, they’re just not ready. They stick around for a year, like, “Man, I’m just not getting results.” You’re like, “Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition.” They may do a challenge, have some success, but getting them to transition to ongoing nutrition, which everyone needs, it is very, very difficult for the best salesperson because they’re sort of in that habit, right?

Sherman Merricks (15:15):
I’m pretty sure you lost members, I’ve lost members who just needed something more nutrition wise, but they weren’t willing to pay us for it so they ended up leaving because they thought they could get it cheaper or something better somewhere else. To me, of course it always stings a little bit, don’t care how big, how successful your gym gets. But, a lot of times I see those people and they gain more weight, they haven’t been consistent. So, you’re really doing people a disservice when you don’t set them up for the absolute best option when they’re in your gym.

Nicole Aucoin (15:50):
And making it easy to get started with both. So, I’m not having you sign up for our fitness only package and then a different package for nutrition, it’s kind of bundled all together so that you got started with both on day one. If I were new coming into your gym, what is the option for me to get started? Do you have it set up like a six week or a 12 week program? What does it look at your gym?

Sherman Merricks (16:13):
Yes, gotcha. Yeah, so 90% of the people that are going to start with us are going to start with the 90 day kickstart program. And the reason we chose the 90 day one, the six week is played out. I dislike the six week. I think there’s some other companies that have ruined that. But the 90 days, it basically gives them enough time to really see results, right? Like we say, it takes 90 days to build a habit, all that type of stuff. So for us, it’s 90 days when they first come in, and we sort of have them commit to that. And it’s a fairly easy transition to keep going, because like I said, when someone comes in, 90 days, they’re consistent with staying on top of them, checking in, they’ve lost 10, 20 pounds if that’s their goal. They’ve been trying to lose these 20 pounds for the last three years, so they’re not going to leave now that they’re getting these amazing results. And now, price is a non issue for the most part. They’re just like, “Hey, this is what it is. Yes, it’s a little expensive, but it’s working.” So yeah, when they come to us, it’s 90 day.

Nicole Aucoin (17:15):
We do the same thing at our gym. We call it a 12 week transformation, but same idea, right?

Sherman Merricks (17:20):
Yeah, same thing. Yep.

Nicole Aucoin (17:22):
One of the things that I like to look at when you’re looking at the 12 week or six week or whatever you packaged together, you need some time to build that relationship with the client. Even with nutritional only packages, we do 12 weeks for people to get started. People are not going to see results overnight. We live in a microwave society, they expect those results overnight, and if you don’t build a package where you have enough time, you’re going to overwhelm people with too much information, try to have them change too much one time, and then they’re going to say, “This doesn’t work for me,” and then they’re going to quit your program anyway, right?

Sherman Merricks (17:54):
I agree with that wholeheartedly. With my staff, what we basically train on is, yes, they’re going to be up for 90 days, but we’re going to tell them, “Hey, it’s going to take you a little bit longer than you’re thinking to get the results that you want. We’re just starting you off with the 90 day. If you plan on only being for 90 days, you’re probably not going to reach your results.” We sort of under promise, but over deliver, right? Because again, they need to understand, for us, we always say, “Okay, how long has it been since you’ve been consistently working out? Like, three years? All right, give us a year here, doing what we tell you, and I guarantee you we can make up those three years that you haven’t done anything.” We sort of plant those seeds early on, because if I have someone come in and be like, “I need to lose 25 pounds before,” you know, they have an event coming up. Like, “Hey, listen, we may be able to help you do that but I don’t know if we’ll be able to. So, I don’t want you to sign up here thinking that guaranteed to lose to…” Because I don’t like guaranteeing weight loss and specific goals with these short time periods. Of course, we’ve all had people come in and do that, but I always tell them no.

Nicole Aucoin (19:02):
Absolutely. You mentioned something earlier, you became a StoryBrand Guide. Welcome to the Guide family. It’s such an awesome network of people. One of the things that I learned going through that certification was you have to talk about the problem, right? We need to talk about… If someone comes in and they say, “I want to lose 20 pounds over the next 20 weeks or less than that, over the next month,” I’m going to say, “How many times have you lost that weight and then regained it?” That’s going to hit home with so many people because that is a problem that they’re dealing with. People try to lose weight and then they regain it back right away because they don’t really change their lifestyle. If you draw attention to that, I think it’s a good way to position yourself as, “Hey, I can help you overcome this obstacle, this problem that you’ve been facing in the past,” right?

Sherman Merricks (19:48):
Oh, I agree. Everything needs a little salt in it, right? It needs a little salt to sort of get a little burn. And this hasn’t being, I’m not talking about being manipulative or anything like that, but you need these people to know why they’re sitting in front of you. Hey, remember that you’ve already lost 25 pounds one time, but look now you’ve gained 35 back. So, we’re going to help you not do that, and this is how we do it. So, when you lose this 35 pounds this time, we’re going to show you how to keep this off long-term and that’s going to be with you sticking with us, taking our advice, working hard, all of that stuff. But again, we know a lot of people, they don’t want to you don’t want to say, “Hey, you need to stop binge eating, having a whatever.” You can insert so much stuff. You need to be honest with these people and tell them that, “Hey, it’s going to take time. You’ve already tried this, you need us. We have a proven track record.” Everything always comes back to making these potential clients the heroes of the story in the end. But, you have to show them how are you going to help them become that hero.

Nicole Aucoin (20:51):
Absolutely. One of the other things you mentioned is kind of laying the groundwork of short and long-term goals, and how you do that is you have to be able to test biometrics and show people here is some objective data, here’s the numbers, here’s what you can expect to lose. You and I both do the same thing with doing InBody tests in the free intro.

Sherman Merricks (21:12):
Correct.

Nicole Aucoin (21:12):
It’s such an eye-opening experience for so many people because they have no clue what their body fat is, and they have no clue what it should be, right? So, that gives you some objective data to help guide long-term goals. “Hey, over the next year, expect to lose 10 to 12 percent body fat. Here’s how we’re going to help you do that if you do X, Y, and Z.”

Sherman Merricks (21:34):
Correct, correct. And I think, Nicole or I, we don’t work for InBody, but InBody should be paying us as many referrals that they get. So, if you reach out to InBody, tell them, “Nicole and Sherman sent you, send us a gift.” But seriously, that InBody, like you were saying, it’s a huge eye-opener because like you’re saying, so many people, especially women, I’m not picking on you ladies, but a woman she’ll come in and be like, “I want to weigh 130 pounds.” And I’m like, “Okay, where’d you get that number from?” She’s like, “Well, that’s how much I weighed when I was in ninth grade.” I’m just like, “Okay, what does that have to do with anything?” But, the InBody, it sets us up and it gives us the data that we need to help them be successful.

Sherman Merricks (22:19):
Now for me, I mean, I’ve had InBody for years now, but before I had InBody, I basically would take measurements with a tape. I got a, I like to say a quote unquote, expensive scale off of Amazon, cost me about 75 bucks. That was expensive back then for me, and I would just take their measurements, put them on the scale and still, you can keep that data. So, if you can’t afford an InBody, you don’t have to have one, it just makes it a whole lot easier. But, you shouldn’t be taking some type of biometrics and keeping track of it so these clients can see progression. Because there’s a certain group of people that only care about the scale. So, if you can’t show them, “Okay, listen, your weight isn’t dropping as fast as you’d like, however, you’re getting leaner, your dropping body fat,” you’re going to lose them, right? I’ve lost quite a few clients early on like that, right? I’m just like, “What do you mean? You’re looking great, you’re getting stronger,” But they only care about that scale. “I’ve been working my butt off and I’ve only lost four pounds,” and I didn’t know what to say. Now, you put them on the InBody and say, “Yes, you’ve lost four pounds but look, you’ve gained X pounds of muscle, you’ve lost 7% body fat.” And then, they’re like, “Ah, okay, okay. it is working.”

Nicole Aucoin (23:29):
I have a member that literally I saved her membership because of the InBody. She was so upset that her scale wasn’t moving, and when we did body fat percentage, exactly what you had said, it went down muscle went up, but she needed to see the print out from the InBody to see those numbers. If you’re about a nutrition program, doing measurements, like actually with a tape measure, doing body fat percentage, having multiple progress pictures, multiple different ways to find those bright spots because we know success leads to motivation is an important piece piece of the puzzle, InBody has a home version that you can purchase on Amazon for $350. It doesn’t have the printout, but it’s going to give you some objective data, and it’s going to be consistent. I know one of the things that I get asked about the InBody on almost every free call with gym owners, and what I’m sure some gyms have done in the past, and I’ve been to gyms where this has happened. You do a challenge and you bring in a dunk tank or you have people go… You’re in Gainesville, I went to University of Florida, you have them go to the college and go get a bod pod test, right?

Nicole Aucoin (24:32):
You need something in house that’s going to be consistent. You don’t want to have a dunk tank to come to your gym just for a challenge and then switch to a handheld device after that, because it’s not a consistent measure to track progress. So, you need something in house, that’s really one of the only expenses you have with the nutrition program to get it started, and a $2 tape measure. So, invest in a way to measure body fat percentage because that’s a really important piece of the puzzle to do during followup visits, but then also during free intros. Sherman, what would you say… I mean, we talked about the most common mistakes, what is one piece of helpful advice you can give to gym owners listening to this? Besides signing up with LASSO and getting the full on training with you guys, what is one piece of advice that you can give to gym owners to help them become more confident with the sales process?

Sherman Merricks (25:35):
One? I’m going to give you two because I can’t give you one. I’m going to give you two though, but they are sort of going to go hand in hand, they’re going to go hand in hand. One, make sure that your staff, whoever is on the quote unquote sales team, they’re actually getting trained, they’re getting practice. That is super critical. We’re both ex-athletes, if you don’t practice, if LeBron James didn’t practice, it doesn’t matter how talented he was upfront, you got to practice. So, your sales team need to be practicing, role-playing, reading about sales, all of that type of stuff. So, they have to be getting some type of training. Two, make sure that your offerings are super clear. I don’t know why I like the word super so much, but make sure your offerings are clear because if they’re not clear, again, and I say this are laughing now, because I remember first years ago, when you first get into Facebook marketing, we didn’t know what we were doing really.

Sherman Merricks (26:31):
I would have basically an ad out for a six week challenge, but I didn’t have six week packages for personal training. So, these people would come in off of a six week ad thinking they’re signing up something six weeks, and they’ll be, “Oh, I want to do personal training.” And I’ll be like, “Oh, the price is $900,” you know? And they’ll think it’s nine hundred bucks for the six weeks, but no, it was only 900 bucks for the month. When that confusion is in, I’ve lost a little money doing that because it’s not their fault that I didn’t know what I was doing. So I’d like, “Hey, it’s really four weeks, but I’m giving it to you for six because that’s what I said.” So, you got to make sure these offerings are very clear and everyone on your team knows how to explain it, what exactly it entails. Because if there’s any type of confusion, there’s no sale going.

Sherman Merricks (27:18):
I like to say, “If you confuse, you lose,” right? So, if you confuse this person, you’re going to lose them. Because I mean, think about it, if you’re going to buy something, whatever it is, anyone listening, think about it. If you go into buy something, you don’t say, “Well, I’m not exactly sure what you’re selling, but I like it so just charge my debit card whatever you want.” You don’t say that, so it has to be crystal clear. So, training and make sure that your offering is crystal clear.

Nicole Aucoin (27:43):
And having a visual with the offering is super important. We do price sheets and actually our layout of the price sheets came from you, because I saw yours and I was like, “Man, Sherman, those look good. I’m going to copy, I’m going to replicate them, and then we’re going to turn it into a template.” And every gym using our platform essentially uses kind of a similar template at this point. But, you have to have a visual for people so they can see what are the offerings, what are the tiers, what are the packages, and be able to clearly guide them to an option, and make sure, what you’re saying, everyone who is doing the sales process is comfortable with it. One of the things that we tell gyms to do who are looking to add nutrition programs is have your coaches do a nutrition challenge, have them be the first test clients of your nutrition program so that they can speak educatedly about it, and they can be your poster children, your success stories at the front of the class. If you’re not comfortable about something, you’re not going to talk about it, right?

Sherman Merricks (28:43):
No.

Nicole Aucoin (28:43):
So, if you are not comfortable about the nutrition program, and this has happened so many times with us over the years, talking to gym owners, when they’re like, “My nutrition program is not growing.” I’m like, “Okay, who’s doing the sales? Who’s doing the free intros?” “Oh, Susie is doing the free intros.” “Okay, does Susie know anything about nutrition?” “No, no, she doesn’t really know anything.” Well, of course she’s not selling nutrition because she doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it. She’s going to sell people on what they feel most comfortable with, not necessarily the best option to help clients achieve their goals, right?

Sherman Merricks (29:14):
No, I agree wholeheartedly. And you touched on something I think is super key. I figured out a while ago that having great price sheets make a world of a different. You can sort of stumble doing the free intros some, and when you show them they can hold something, you can hand them a sheet and say, “These are your three or four options,” and you just sit back and shut your mouth, people are going to choose, right? They’re going to choose. So, that’s why I find it funny when I see so many gyms that we work with over the years, I was like, “Well, let me see your price sheet.” Oh, look, that’s mine. I was like, “Oh, look at that.” But, I think it’s so important because if you have on your price sheet, which I’ve seen, personal training, group classes, nutrition, bootcamp, kettle bell, if you have all that on one price sheet, now it’s too much, right? They’re like, “I don’t know.”

Sherman Merricks (30:07):
Again, we’re the professionals, they’re coming to us for guidance. So, we tell them, “Hey, Nicole, you need to do personal training three or four days a week with nutrition. Look at this, figure out which one of these works for you.” And you sit back, be quiet, and wait for them to make a decision. I think, like you’re saying, too many gyms don’t don’t do that because they start getting anxious, right? Their hands are sweating, hearts beating fast when they hand them a sheet with $700 [inaudible 00:30:36]. So, as soon as that person says, “Well, I don’t know,” they jump up, snatch the sheet out of their hand, hand them the cheapest sheet and say, “Well, you can choose this.” And they’re like, “Ah, that’s more like it.” But, we know that longterm, that isn’t the best thing for that client, and that’s unfortunate.

Nicole Aucoin (30:52):
Absolutely. You touched on an important thing just now that you have to sit back and be quiet, and that is so uncomfortable for so many people. I know Jason and I have had many conversations about like, you love to talk, we get it, you are great, but you need to be quiet when we’re doing these sales intros, because… Not even sales intros, just talking to people about what their goals are and how we can help them, because they came in for a reason, they are ready to get started, you just need to guide them and then be quiet and let them make up the decision of which option is best for them. I heard a trick at one point a few years ago. Someone had said, “Put a cup of water in front of you, and after you present the price sheets, if you feel the instinct to talk right away, take a sip of water and shut the heck up. So now, it’s forcing you to be quiet, right?

Sherman Merricks (31:45):
Yeah, no, I agree. I think now that is a… I’ll be honest, that definitely is a muscle that takes time to build up, because again, for the most part, I get it, I’ve been there. When you hand someone this price sheet for the first time, I remember when I first started charging personal training before people could get started. I remember the first time I handed that lady that sheet, Nicole, my heart was beating so fast. But, when I handed it to her, I knew enough, like shut up and wait. And then, she was like, “So I have to choose one of these?” I’m like, “Yes, ma’am.” And she was like, “I really like this.” Then I’m just like, “Oh. Oh, this is going to work.” And now, it’s no thing for me. I’ll sit there for five minutes, I don’t care, here go. But, that is a muscle, and you definitely have to get used to just sitting back. It’s okay for your heart to beat fast, your hands to sweat, still be quiet, be quiet.

Nicole Aucoin (32:35):
I think one of the… And this is not for this podcast, but one of the most important things that you talk to gym owners about is handling objections.

Sherman Merricks (32:44):
Oh yeah.

Nicole Aucoin (32:44):
And that piece of the puzzle is so important when it comes to being able to support your potential new clients and build your business, right? I think you guys should do some type of free training or something on handling objections because I think every gym owner and salesperson needs some training on that for sure. I know that’s something you guys talk about in LASSO.

Nicole Aucoin (33:09):
Any final thoughts? Thank you for coming on the podcast. I think this was a really great way to shed some light on how the free intro process should look and what things gym owners and people that are doing free intros should be thinking about when they’re doing them, right? Yeah, for sure. Any final thoughts here?

Sherman Merricks (33:27):
No, you guys crush the sales. If you need help, get help. Have fun. It’s just a big game, right? It’s just a big game. Someone coming in, like Nicole said, they looking for help, make it a game, have fun. Because at the end of the day, if they join, you’re going to change their life, and it’s a win-win for both of you. If they don’t, you probably going to get the opportunity and they probably leave and don’t do anything. So, have fun with this, help people, and that’s all I have, Nicole,

Nicole Aucoin (33:56):
I love it. Our hearts are always in the right place to help gym owners be successful and get comfortable, but really gym owners, your heart’s in the right place to help these people take control of their health, and you just have to bridge the gap between the problem that they’re having and the solution that you can offer and guide them to the best option. So Sherman, thank you for all that you do. I’m excited to talk to you again soon.

Sherman Merricks (34:19):
All right. Thanks for having me. It was a blast as usual.

Nicole Aucoin (34:23):
I hope you enjoyed that episode on nailing your free intro. Sherman is also a StoryBrand certified Guide as well as a Nutrition Made Simple business coach like myself. The way they talk about marketing really works. You have to figure out what your ideal client’s problem is and be the guide, create a clear path for them for success. And we know the best way to help people achieve their wellness goals is through nutrition and fitness. If you are looking for more free help, Sherman has made his brand new sales training course for free to our listeners for the rest of the month of January. Click the link in the show notes and use the code HSN to access this free course. It’s valued at $999. Did you enjoy this episode? Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss another episode. Until next week!

About the author

Nicole Aucoin, MS, RD, LD/N

Founder, Healthy Steps Nutrition
Home of CrossFit HSN & HSN Mentoring

Author of Nourish & Healthy Kids Cookbook

Author of The Basics of Nutrition Coaching Course, CrossFit Preferred Nutrition Course

CrossFit Level 2 Trainer