Why SELL is not a four-letter word

Well…technically it is.

But not in the sense we usually mean by “four-letter word.”

And personal trainers can’t really count anyway.

Allow me to ‘splain ma-self with two quick stories…

He stayed healthy just a little longer

A great man – and client of mine – recently passed away at the age of 72. A few months back, he excused himself from our training sessions by telling me he’d had some bad health news. When his wife contacted me last month to inform me of his passing, I was shocked to discover he had terminal leukemia – and that he knew of his condition before we started training together.

He never told me, hinted, or even slightly let on that he was ill.

He was given 3-6 months and lasted eighteen. And when, at his memorial, his wife thanked me for my efforts, and my role in keeping him on an exercise program that extended his life just that much more, it drove home for me once again the incredible significance of the responsibility we take on as personal trainers, and health practitioners.

From broke to high-performer in 90 days

The second is a brief anecdote from my own life.

At the beginning of February 2008, I made the leap from being a club trainer to becoming an independent personal trainer. I had 3 clients, no savings, and no real idea about how to build a business. By the end of the month I was in a financial Gulag. As March 1st loomed, with rent and other things due (not to mention groceries), I had less-than-no money and was surviving off of credit – which was also quickly running out.

Fear wrapped its icy tentacles around my heart.

The tension was so much I barely slept or ate. I envisioned all sorts of nightmare scenarios, like my girlfriend dumping me for being a loser, and me ending up homeless and alone.

To add insult to injury, I got a referral from a former client, a sale I desperately needed…

And I screwed it up.

I wasn’t sure what to convey, my presentation was disorganized, and I lost the sale.

I needed a new approach. So I maxed out my credit card to pay for my first sales training course (I’ve had many since), and devoted myself to studying every detail of that material, and implementing it.

Then, I met a guy at a local networking event who figured out I was a personal trainer, and requested a consultation. Even though I was a nervous wreck, I stuck to the plan, and closed a $2,400 sale.



Fear…well, still there. But things were looking up.

In March of the same year, I visited a couple in their home. It was a co-worker of a client looking for a personal trainer for both he and his wife. They’d never met me before, yet I walked out of their house 45-minutes later with a cheque in my hand for $7,000! I’ll never forget phoning my girlfriend to tell her, and her screaming into the phone like we’d won the lottery.

By the end of May, I’d already racked up more than $40,000 worth of sales. To put that in perspective, I’d earned more in a 90-day period than what had been my average annual income for the previous five years!

Not long after that, I had my first $40,000 month, and eventually, my first $30,000 week.

I’ve had a $16,000 sale from one client, and $13,000 in a single cheque.

Yes, for personal training.

I’ve never since doubted the value of investing in myself.

I took a risk, and it completely changed my life.

The real meaning of selling

I heard it again, just the other day:

“I hate selling. I always feel like I’m trying to convince someone to buy something they don’t want.”

As someone formerly very resistant to selling, I get it.

But it’s way off base. It stems from a confusion about what selling really is. It’s this:

Selling = helping.

If you care about people, you should want to get really good at it.

I think back now over the last few years and the hundreds of success stories we’ve had, and I wonder what would have happened to them if hadn’t made the effort to learn how to communicate my value, and help those clients understand how my solution could solve their problems.

So many people positively impacted, in their health, and their quality of life – all because I stepped out of my comfort zone and learned to SELL. In my opinion, you can’t possibly do anything better, for yourself, and for the people you serve, than to master this essential skill.

If you really believe in what you do, then you have a responsibility to connect people with services that make their lives better.

Sales is a calling.

It’s a universal imperative.

Thou. Shalt. Sell.

It’s in the Bible.

Alright, so maybe you won’t find it in those exact words.

But what it represents, is treating others the way you would want to be treated.

Imagine the situation reversed. If you had a problem, and someone with knowledge of your problem was able to identify a need, and lay out a clear path for remedying it, would you want them to share it with you? And if it cost as much or less than what it was worth to you to fix this particular problem, would you pay that amount?

Would you pay me $100 for a glass of water?


What if your hair was on fire?

The answer is, if you had (1) money or a credit card with available credit, (2) belief that the solution can work, and (3) the pain being caused by the problem was big enough, you would without question.

If you understand the above, you can sell.

And you can transform lives for the better.

The dreaded “fitness assessment”

Unfortunately, our industry doesn’t have the greatest track record.

Most health clubs use a very negative approach when it comes to selling personal training. It’s about making the person feel inadequate in some way. Asking a 50-year old woman who’s never worked out in her life to do squats on a Bosu ball, then pointing out how weak her stabilizers are when she shakes is horses**t. Pardon my French. But it infuriates me when I see things like that.

In fairness, these places close a lot of business.

But when you look deeper, it’s only because of the volume of members. Their batting percentage ain’t nothin’ special.

That’s because this style of selling puts people on the defensive.

Selling is a trust-based process. If you don’t engender trust, you can’t gain good will. Without good will, you will never be in a position to lead that person – at least not in a way that elevates them to a new place in their lives.

The “hard-sell” is out.

Sure you can brow beat someone into signing a contract, but (a) a lot of those deals get cancelled or refunded, and (b) if you have to convince someone to train with you, they probably won’t comply much with the program anyway.

That’s not a client you want.

Why learning to sell makes you a better professional

What I discovered about learning to sell the right way – with compassion – is that it makes you a better trainer. It teaches you effective communication, helps you better understand the needs of your client, and empowers you to get your ideas across with more authority.

Think about it. Once the initial sale is on paper, the selling’s not done. You’ve still gotta sell them on why they should do what you tell them too. You’ve got to keep them engaged and motivated. And the biggest idea you need to sell them on? Why they can confidently EXPECT to reach their goals, especially when they’ve never done it before.

I’ve found that my intake process with a new client sets up the tone of the relationship. It clarifies the expectations of both parties, and demonstrates the value of what you’re doing. It helps you get to know your client better, and reveals exactly what buttons to push to keep them excited about a result or an outcome that, typically, takes time.

Every master was once a disaster

Remember your first day in the gym? We’re you at least a little bit intimidated? Did you have much of a clue about what to do?

The point is, with very few exceptions, anyone who’s ever gotten great at anything sucked at it – at least a little – in the beginning. Maybe they sucked a lot.

Just because you think you’re not good at selling doesn’t mean you can’t be great at it. And just because you don’t think you like it, doesn’t mean you can’t learn to love it.

I sucked.

I hated it.

I got so nervous my hands would shake.

But I got over it.


By learning a bit about it, I did a bit better, and it ignited my drive to excel even more.

Now I love selling. It’s a passion. Every part of the process is delicious and fun to me. And I’ve fully internalized that the more I sell, not only am I making things better for my family, but I’m enriching my clients lives too.

It’s win-win.

Closing The Deal November 14th @Body Pump Inc

Closing The Deal is a new workshop I’ve created to help less experienced trainers benefit from the knowledge I received from my various mentors, and the experience I acquired in-the-trenches, selling for my life.

You can amplify your passion for the industry, refine your craft as a personal trainer, and drastically change your current financial circumstances.

You can engender so much certainty around selling that confidence just absolutely oozes out of your every pore, and you convert nearly 100% of genuinely interested prospects to paying clients.

You can enhance your enthusiasm for meeting new people, and educating them about what you do, and how you can help.

But most of all, you can reach the top of your game and truly excel as a personal trainer.

F**k being good. Be GREAT. That’s what I say.

If what I’ve said resonates at all, you’ll want to be at my Closing The Deal workshop on November 14th.

I guarantee you’ll love it.

I’ll be an open book.

I’ll hold nothing back, because I believe I can help you, and I believe in what you do. We need MORE personal trainers helping MORE clients to be better physically, and therefore live fuller, more meaningful lives.

Details are below. Hope to see you there!

To Your Success,

Conor Kelly

CLOSING THE DEAL: Sales Secrets From A Top Fitness Industry Producer

Saturday November 14th, 1pm-3pm @Body Pump Inc., 9 Saint Nicholas St.

When you come to the workshop, here’s what you’ll discover…

The #1 ingredient in successful selling – and why most personal trainers get this wrong.

•A crucial step most trainers miss that makes stratospheric closing percentages (90%-100%) not only possible, but likely

The best way to add $$$ to your bottom line and stability to your income by closing big packages of training sessions, and how you can get your prospect excited to sign up for the year or longer

• The ‘trick’ to putting together an effective close, and overcoming any of your prospect’s objections (HINT: it’s not a trick at all…and it’s something you do instinctively anyway)

Mastering the intro session: how to engage your prospect, raise their belief, and make them willing and eager to buy from you.

• How to get your prospect to tell you EXACTLY – in their own words – how to sell them (this is completely ethical and, in fact, the basis of true professionalism)

• And much more…

Cost: $50

Attendance: limited to 10 serious fitness professionals

Reserve your spot today by emailing Conor at conorkel@gmail.com

See you there!

When it feels good to be bad


So I admit it, I cheated.

And I don’t even feel guilty about it, either.

(In fact, I regret not cheating more.)

My workout plan calls for 25 minutes a day, and on Saturday, I pushed it to 45 minutes.

I know, I know…dammit Conor! I wish I had more discipline. But I couldn’t control myself! I just had to have me some more of that sweet, sweet exercise, baby.

What’s wrong with me?

Notwithstanding the obvious, I think it has something to do with a phenomenon I recently described to a colleague, which I call *CRITICAL MASS*. In nuclear physics, this term refers to the amount of material needed to sustain a nuclear reaction.

In fitness terminology, I use it to describe the moment when your workout program becomes self-sustaining.

Sort of.

You see, I’m four weeks into my workout comeback. (Bicep tear.)

And I’ve experienced critical mass before.

When you first start an exercise program, there’s a lot of friction involved with getting yourself going. Frankly, it’s a bit of a grind. Both your mind and body are better adapted to sitting on the couch, or in front of a computer. There’s a touch of self-persuasion that creeps in every time you act even a tad industrious. You gotta talk yourself past the devil sitting on one shoulder, pulling out every stop to trick you into staying in your comfort zone.

If you manage to silence this rascal, and take action often enough — and for long enough — your forward momentum eventually becomes greater than the resistance keeping you mired in the quicksand of the status quo.

You’re less tired, you can do more — and you start feeling like you want to.

When critical mass really kicks in, you almost don’t want to stop.

It’s a high.

And it feels incredible.

When you’re there, motivation is a non-issue, Amigo.

The faster you reach critical mass, the sooner your goals become a foregone conclusion.

Trouble is, most people don’t have the knowledge, or the drive to sustain themselves long enough to hit that crucial turning point.

They fall flat.

And quit.

So what is the fastest — really the ONLY way — to become more enthusiastic about something?

Learn how to do it well.

If motivation is an issue for you, do your body a ‘solid’, and give me call:

(416) 826-4844

Sometimes I’m good…

But when I’m bad, I’m even better.

Yours In Great Health,

Conor Kelly
(416) 826-4844