Mastering the MMA Blueprint Part 2:
How to Turn More Prospects Into Paying Students.
In the first post in this series, we talked about How to Attract a Flood of Ideal Students to Your Martial Arts School.
But getting people to call you is only the first step in the process.
You need to follow that with a system that ensures you quickly turn these initial contacts into appointments and then you need to convert those appointments into enthusiastic students.
In this post, I’m going to cover a 7-step process that will help you convert as many of these leads as possible into students.
Here are the seven steps:
#1: Create a process to maximize the number of phone calls which turn into appointments.
#2: Develop the right mindset and approach to be ready to make the sale.
#3: Make the right first impression when the prospect arrives for their appointment.
#4: Establish a tour and consultation to prepare for the sale.
#5: Give the perfect private lesson to make them ready to sign.
#6: Craft an irresistible offer to make their decision easy.
#7: Close the sale almost every time.
#1: Turning Phone Calls Into Appointments
Of all the strategies I teach on growing a martial arts school, one that often gets the fastest results is introducing a script for answering the phone.
The reason for that is that the telephone is actually one of the most important parts of any business. So how it is answered is the first impression most people have of you.
No matter how beautiful your gym, how impressive your cage or how many black belts you have, people can’t see those when they call.If the phone is badly answered, they get a bad overall impression. But if you get this right, you are well on your way to signing up a new student.
There are two key elements to getting this right
• Firstly, you must have the right people answering the phone. Too often, phones are answered by whoever happens to be passing. So you need to make sure you have people answering your phones who are going to make a good impression.
• Secondly, whoever answers your phone needs to have a tightly defined script to follow that maximizes the number of calls that turn into appointments.
In my school, we follow a script that has been thoroughly tested and it includes the following key elements:
• Powerful Initial Greeting: This is probably the most important part of the entire script but it’s also the most overlooked.
• Finding Out Where They Heard About You: This is a simple way to take control of the conversation.
• Get the Contact Information Quickly: This is also a good point to introduce yourself. If you do that too early in the process, they will simply forget.
• Find Out Desired Benefits: Next you want to find out what benefits they are looking for.
• Find Out What They’re Doing Now: The odds are you are not the first school they have called or the first solution they have sought for whatever benefits they are seeking.
• Share Your Benefit Stories: The next step is to explain why your gym is the right choice. You need to have your “benefit stories” and you need to know them.
• Make Your Offer: Once you have gone through all the benefits, go straight in to your offer.
• Confirm the Appointment: Get them to commit right away to a specific date and time.
• Make Sure You Gather Their Information: You want as much contact information as possible.
• Wrap It Up Quickly: Finish off by confirming details and then HANG UP before they ask any questions.
It’s impossible to demonstrate value over the phone so you don’t want to discuss prices on a call. People just compare prices and look for the cheapest. They don’t know the difference.
Sometimes people will make comments during the call or ask questions that could take you off track. When you have to redirect, you can say something like “Sure, I’ll get to that in a moment”.The key with redirecting the conversation is always to come back to the same place in the script. It’s important to go through all the stages so that they get excited about the appointment.
I go into these in much more detail in my book My MMA Millionaire Blueprint. You can get a copy here.
#2: Developing the Selling Mindset
You can have the best marketing in the world, the phone ringing non-stop and a great telephone process making lots of appointments. But, if all these people come in and then nobody signs up, the best marketing won’t save you. You need to have a good sales game.
If you are not comfortable selling, you need to recruit someone to do it and teach them an effective system. However, many people fail at sales because of mental blocks. One of these is the idea that nobody likes “salespeople”.
A good way to overcome that is to stop thinking of yourself as a “salesperson”.
People may not like someone selling to them but they do seek advice and consultation. So, if you are involved in selling, you need to start thinking of yourself as an “MMA and Fitness Consultant,” for example.
A consultant is someone you seek advice from, they help people and they help them make decisions. From now on, instead of thinking you are selling to someone, you are interviewing them, talking to them, finding out what they want, giving them advice and sharing with them what you offer.
Use a description like “MMA and Fitness Consultant” on your business cards etc. As a consultant, you want to take on the role of “assistant buyer”. Your job is to sit down with them and help them decide what is right for them.
#3: Making the Right First Impression
When someone has booked their first appointment and they are coming in for a meeting, the process of selling to them begins outside your school.You need to put yourself in their mind at the point they are coming in. They are trying to find your location and their anxiety is rising.
You’ll find that some people even walk up to the door, open it and then close it again and never actually walk in. That’s why the marketing process begins outside.
You need to get creative – A-frames outside the door, banners, music, TV in the windows – anything to get their attention.
Now that person is walking in the door and their anxiety is rising further.
If nobody says anything to them, it gets worse. It is crucial to greet someone within three seconds. Then you want to make sure they are not kept waiting.
If you have the correct scheduling, people shouldn’t have to wait more than five minutes for their appointment. The longer they have to wait, the more uneasy they get. They were ready to do something and now it’s on hold.
Throughout the whole visit, you need to attack all five of their senses as all the senses are communicating at an unconscious level to the body.
• Sight: The first sense is sight so you need to think about things like how the gym looks from the outside and what they see when they walk in. You have to look at everything in your gym with a fresh eye and spot the things people might notice when they come for the first time.
• Hearing:Next you have to think about what they can hear. What are they listening to outside the gym, when they open the door, when they are in the lobby? How do people speak to them – staff and other students? What do they hear in the ongoing classes?
• Touch: The next sense that you have to take into account is touch. That starts with what they are sitting on. You should make sure you have comfortable chairs. Think about your handshake and the pen you give them to fill out the form.
• Smell: A big issue for people visiting gyms – especially for the first time – is the smell. You should go all out to attack odor. Some people will comment on it, while others won’t say anything but it will affect their decision.
• Taste: Satisfying the sense of taste may be as simple as making sure you have functioning cold water. It’s frustrating to go to a fountain and find it doesn’t work.
No one of these things on its own is going to secure the deal but each will affect the process and outcome.
#4: Giving a Great Tour and Consultation
When a new prospect comes in for their appointment, the first step is to give them a tour of the gym and an initial consultation. Doing this correctly is vital to the success of the appointment.
Sitting down for a consultation is one of the most important relationship-building parts of the whole sales process.
This is when they will open up and confide in you. To get them to open up as well, remember you want to be genuine friends. In order to become friends, you need to talk about yourself too.
As you talk to them, you will find things that you have in common. When you have something in common, you have credibility
#5: The Perfect Private Lesson
The next step in the process is a private lesson; there are many types depending on the benefits they want.
A perfect private lesson for self-defense will not work for someone who is interested in competition, for example.
However, the goal of your private lesson is not to make them a better fighter or to improve their self-defense. The goal is to further strengthen your friendship with them and make them comfortable about their decision to join your school.
Here are some key points of the perfect lesson:
• Start with a joke: People are often nervous and a cheesy joke breaks the ice.
• Be excited: If you feel excited, they will feel excited.
• Match what they want: The lesson has to be different depending on the benefit the person is looking for – whether they are there for self-defense, fitness or competition.
• Always Be Closing: You should always have “ownership closes” going on. For example: “You just did 20 pushups. Wait till we do this six months from now and you’ll be doing 50!”
• Teach fool-proof moves: They are trying to decide if they want to join and they will feel bad if you give them moves they can’t do. If they try something and do it right every time, they feel they can do this.
In the private lesson you should do everything possible to make them feel comfortable.
So never do a private lesson in view of others. You may also have to tailor the private lesson to their existing level of knowledge.
I go into these in much more detail in my book My MMA Millionaire Blueprint. You can get a copy here.
#6: Crafting An Irresistible Offer
Before you get someone to the stage of signing up, you need to have defined what you want them to sign up for.
This is a crucial element that will flow through all the stages in the process from your initial advertising and lead generation, through writing your sales letter onto setting up the appointment and finally closing the sale.
So, to attract as many prospects as possible and then convert the maximum number into students, you need to create the most irresistible offer you can think of.
You should have the most crazy, wild and exciting offer possible so that you stand out from the competition.
When you create your irresistible offer, the person has to say: “I would be a goddam fool not to take advantage of this offer.”
That’s why I pioneered the 30-Day Free Trial in the MMA community. And now, everybody has tried to copy it.
But, for your offer to work, everything has to be congruent – the message, the media and the market. When you create an offer, you have to become that offer – you need to live that offer.
If I call your school and tell you I want to be an ultimate fighter, and you start telling me about all your other classes, you will not be congruent.
I found that people were stealing my offer and putting it into AdWords. But then you click on their ads and land on a site that doesn’t even mention the offer or does not make it very obvious.
When you land on my page, everything is there. It’s bold – the offer, the guarantee, the bonuses – everything is in there. You don’t have to guess what it’s about.
When you have defined your offer, you need to make it easy for them to sign up so you have to keep the barrier of entry low. A barrier to entry is what someone has to do to get to you and take advantage of your offer.
If they have to open a door, jump through a hoop and climb a mountain to get to you, it increases the barrier of entry.
Lowering the barriers means you need to make the process of signing up when they come in as easy possible.
Anything that makes the process difficult makes it easier for them to decide not to join.
Your mission is that everyone in your area should know your offer.
Remember, we don’t spend money marketing and advertising to build name recognition. We want to be recognized for our offer.
You create your offer and make sure the world knows its value.
#7: Closing the Sale
So you now have a prospect sitting in front of you who has been through the whole process.
They called, made an appointment, got a great greeting when they showed up, enjoyed an excellent tour and one-on-one consultation; they loved their free private lesson and they are now patiently waiting for you to explain the details.
The process you follow from here will determine how many people you sign up.
Following the right process can get you to an 85 – 90% close rate.
That’s way more than most people get – because most people don’t have the right system.
However, it’s important to remember that closing is only the end-game.
Even the perfect closing system can only finish a properly prepared lead. The closing process itself will not get you a 90% close rate.
Each of the other elements I’ve covered is part of the process.
If someone doesn’t sign up it may be because of something that happened earlier in the process.
It may even be because nobody greeted him quickly when he first walked in the door.
That being said, there are several keys to our proven closing system.
• Right Location: You can do the closing part anywhere – in the office or on the mat. The worst case scenario is that it can be anywhere with some PRIVACY – except the front counter. Anywhere is better than the front counter.
• Setting Up the Process: How you begin the closing part depends on the resources you have. If you have a student manual, you can pull that out and go through it with them. You could also make a quick PowerPoint or video about your gym.
• Explaining the Price with Confidence: Everyone feels very comfortable when they are doing the tour and the consultation and asking what benefits someone wants to gain. They feel super confident when they are asking someone what classes they want to do. It’s when start to talk about price that you have to decide if you are going to be man enough to take their money. When you go through the prices, you have to be excited. This is an exciting moment because now they are about to start their journey at your school.
• 5-Step Closing: The reason we have five closes is that it’s said the average sale takes five attempts to close. Some people think that five is a lot but that’s why they don’t have 90% close rates. Anyone with a 90% close rate can tell you that it takes five noes to get the average sale. If you don’t get to five noes you probably have between 30% and 60% close rate, depending on how good you are. Most people are used to stopping after one or two noes. You have to get used to hearing “no” four times to get to that “yes”. Five closes is how you get to 90% – 95% closing.
• Effective Follow Up: Let’s say they don’t sign up, you don’t have to give up at that stage. It may just not be the right time so you need to have a system for staying in touch. And if they do sign up, you need to have a system in place for making them excited to stay.
I explain these closes in much more detail in my book My MMA Millionaire Blueprint. You can get a copy here.
Conclusion and Actions
Having an effective process that takes people through from their initial interest to quickly becoming a paying student is crucial to the success of your school. it can’t be left to chance.
Here are some steps you can take now to implement these ideas
• Define Your Own Irresistible Offer
• Develop a Powerful Private Lesson and Initial Consultation
• Improve the Conversion from Your Phone Calls and the Initial Consultation
If you’d like more information on how to implement these ideas, you can get a copy my book My MMA Millionaire Blueprint here.
If you’d like some advice about implementing these ideas, we would LOVE to help you grow your martial arts school.
To set up a call so you can see how we can help please visit: www.MMABusinessCoach.com/help
The next post in the series on Mastering the MMA Blueprint covers How to Get More Students to Increase Their Commitment and Stay Longer.