How to lose a customer 101

 March 31 – please mark the date because somehow it plays in to put the story in perspective .

So I wanted to subscribe to a gym long enough that today I decided to check out LA Fitness. Why didn’t I go before? Why today? Well, do I need a specific reason to choose a specific day to check out a gym? I guess not. I happened to be close to the gym and wanted to check it out. But there I was, talking to one of the salesmen, feeling like I was being interrogated: “Why didn’t you come in before? Why today?”.

The interrogation went on for about 10 more minutes with more questions about my motive of going to the gym and what my goals are for working out: “why do you want to work out? Why now? Why do you want to stay fit? Do you want to stay fit to get married?”. He needed to understand me to be able to sell me a solution but look, you are not gonna make the sales by  just shooting questions at me, one by one like this. I am his customer, not his daughter or his suspect at the police station.

After the gym tour, we got back to his desk. This was when it came so clear that he just wanted to sign me on. First question:

·         “we have 2 packages, 1 is the full paid program for 2 years and monthly program, which one do you want?”.

·         “Can you tell me the difference first?”.

He didn’t bother explaining the benefits of the 2 packages just told me the money difference in each of them and concluded by:

·         “Either way you will have to start with your debit, credit or checking account, what kind of payment do you choose?”.

To this point, his attitude converted me from thinking that he was trying to help me with my workout to he was trying to make me pay. I had at least few more questions that I needed to clarify like what are the different rates on their leaflet and why is the rate on the website different from what is presented to me here and if I would be able to use my membership in other locations.  It is unbelievable that he never mentioned any of this. With the same greediness baked with desperation he asked:

·         “Are you ready to commit?”. And here comes the fun. I said:

·         “hmm”

·         “We have another special offer for you” – he did not let me enjoy my 10 seconds fake hesitation (a textbook play huh?) – “you can pay month by month at a significantly lower price, blah blah blah”. Realizing his chance of selling me just dropped significantly.

·         “I think I want to subscribe however I won’t be able to sign the contract today though…”

·         Why not?” – he did not let me finish. His chance of selling dropped even further.

·         “Well, I’ll think about it a bit more. I’ll come back if I am ready to commit.”

·         Why? What prevents you from signing up today?”

I got a bit uncomfortable but was trying to be polite. Plus, when someone is pushing you, isn’t it natural that you want to push away?

·         “I-I am … it is ridiculous that I have to explain to you but I might be relocated so I want to wait a few more days to see where I will be first…”

·         What are you gonna do during that time?” – he couldn’t hold it anymore while his chance of selling to me dropped again to impossible now.

·         “I’ll come back when I am ready” – I am tired of explaining myself to someone who is trying to sell me.

·         Looks like you just came in for a free pass?” – resenting that his chance of selling is now 0%?

·         “Excuse me?” – I looked him in the eyes with the best innocent smile I could produce.

·         You know, the cheapest offer I told you here expired today. Just so you won’t be surprised when you come in next time.”

For my amusement, he just put out his last card. “Ah ha”, I thought to myself. I thanked him and walked out of the gym.

I went to a gym with a genuine intention to commit. But it was amazing to see how this salesperson was so desperate to give away his charm and ultimately lose a customer. I walked in, feeling intimidated and insecure about the fact that I should have been busting my butt in the gym long ago but here I am for the second time in my life trying to subscribe to a gym. I would consider myself easy to sell. That being said, in about 40 minutes, I had this amazing experience seeing how one loses their field inch by inch. It is pretty much of a textbook play for him to try to be friends with me and make me comfortable before trying to get me to pay (my hard earn money). Obviously trying to be my friend is not questioning me so much about why I came in today; not asking me if I am going to sign the contract every 2 minutes (at his table after the gym tour)and not by insulting me when his chance of signing me today is slipping through his fingers. I bet this guy never had a hard sell before or if he did, he never learned his lesson.

We have a Vietnamese proverb that reads: “always keep a cold head and a warm heart”. Looks like my friend at LA Fitness today had a cold heart and a warm head.

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