How to stop feeling awkward when you ask people for money in exchange for coaching

I remember when I first started coaching how uncomfortable I felt when the moment came to tell the person the price. I swear half the time I put my head down and mumbled the price under my breath, muffling the shocking sound of the words, “$750 for 10 sessions.”

Basically, like many people, I strongly disliked having to talk to people about the cost, let alone find a way to take hundreds of their dollars.

As a result, I’m positive I came across as unconfident in myself as a coach, and was less likely to make a sale.

Alas, that was close to 10 years ago. Having had nearly a decade of experience as a coach working as an independent contractor at MadLab School of Fitness, I have had to learn to get over that, to become confident in what I’m selling, and find a way to bring in and keep clients.

I wanted to share some of the things I have learned, which would have made ALL OF THE DIFFERENCE had I known these things when I first started coaching.

Bringing on a child or teen is particularly challenging because it means dealing with the parents and child, but the same rules apply! 

Tip #1: Acknowledge that weird look they give when you tell them the price

In the early days, when I would reveal the price of personal training to a prospect and a shocked look came over his/her face, I would just ignore it and hope it would go away. Generally, however, what happened would be the entire energy would change and the prospect would eventually tell me he’d get back to me in the next couple days because of some lame excuse or other, such as, “I just need to run it by my wife,” or, “I need to take a close look at my schedule.”

I knew at that point that this person probably wasn’t enrolling but was too cowardly to tell me in that moment that he wasn’t about to fork out the cash for personal training. And another prospect would bite the dust.

One thing I have learned over the years is to acknowledge that weird look the person gives you and to call him on it in the moment. I had a situation like this come up recently:

A client had done his 3-personal training session assessment and we were chatting about the next steps. I told him he’d need another 10 sessions and could bill him 5 at a time if he wanted. He asked for the total and looked all concerned and weirded out and started telling me he’d text me in a couple days about the next time he’d be able to come in. I knew in that moment he wasn’t coming back unless I got to the bottom of it right then and there.

I looked him in the eye and said, “You seem concerned all of a sudden. What’s up?” 

He proceeded to tell me he had just spent $10,000 on in-vitro fertilization and couldn’t put anything else on his credit card until the end of the month.

I told him he could keep coming and when he was able to in the next week or two, he would pay me for the next 3 to 5 sessions. He looked relieved and was stoked he would be able to postpone the payment and keep training in the process.

I honestly think that had I not had that conversation with him, he may have just gone off and never contacted me again because he was too embarrassed. But stopping him in that moment and inquiring about what was holding him back from booking another session with me was all that was needed to find a solution that would give us both what we wanted.

So the next time a prospect makes a face, or his energy changes when he hears the price, be up front and ask him what’s going on.

Tip #2: Ask “Is price your only concern?”

Similarly, one of the first things people often ask about is price.

“What is this going to cost me?”

Again, I used to feel weird in this moment and would immediately reply unconfidently to their question with an estimate of what it will cost. Now I ask, “Is price your only concern?” or “Are there other factors other than price at play that will determine if you want to train here?”

Usually there are various other factors at play, and this gives me the opportunity to explain what it is we do, what sets us apart from another gym, what they will receive from having a coach for life, and then they’re in a better position to determine whether they value what I’m offering. And more often than not, if they value what you’re offering and you have a solution to their problem, they’ll be willing to spend a lot more than they possibly originally thought they might for a “gym membership.”

Simply put, sell value first, and then talk about price.

Tip #3: Be clear about your expectations of the prospect

How annoying is it to administer an introductory session only to have the prospect be wishy washy at the end and tell you he’ll get back to you in a day or two.

Don’t. let. this. happen.

To avoid it, make it clear at the start of the session that the goal of the day is to figure out if you’re a good fit to work together and to get a yes or no answer from the prospect. Take it one step further and ask if there’s anyone else who will be involved in the decision-making process. If so, tell the person to bring this person (often a spouse) along to be part of the process.

Doing this has made a world of difference for me, and I’m no longer ever in a position wondering if I should chase the person down via a phone call or text or e-mail, hoping they’ll return and give me a YES.

Bonus tip: Take the power back

Though it sometimes seems like the prospect has all the power in terms of deciding whether he wants to train with you, that’s not the case. You, too, can decide if you want to train with a client. I like to use the simple line: “We’ll meet up and chat on Day 1 to see if we’re a good fit for you and if you’re a good fit for our facility.”

That one little line goes a long way in showing the person you’re not desperate, that you have standards! Kind of like playing hard to get after a first date: It’s maybe a bit of a game, but it works.

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