What One Sales Seminar Taught Me About Success.


I hate sales seminars.

They are, to me, one of the most soul destroying events on the corporate calender. It’s like a little bit of forced-fun, decorated with poorly made sandwiches and small-talk with other people who don’t particularly want to be there.

But, there is one seminar I attended that taught me (somewhat inadvertently) one of the key ingredients to living a successful life.

Back in my younger years I worked for one of the bigger, upper-class fitness centres in England. They were established countrywide, with a country club feel about them.

The car parks would be filled with expensive new models. The café area swamped with business-people drinking coffees and making phone calls, and the tennis courts were around mostly for boasting and talking about fox hunting.

It’s safe to say our target audience; they weren’t exactly strapped for cash.

Yet we as a gym had a problem – we couldn’t sell memberships. Getting new members through the door was hard work, and keeping our existing members was becoming harder and harder.

Management couldn’t put their finger on it, so they did what all management do when they can’t think of an answer. They sent everyone on a course.

Three days we sat in a small room, in the back of the companies’ northern headquarters in Leeds – being talked at (not to, but at) about engagement techniques, sales conversion methods and other technical jargon. All in an effort to try and give us more tools to do our jobs with.

But, it wasn’t exactly a well-spent three days – because nobody was particularly motivated by what was going on. Which tends to be the case when your speaker has the entertainment skills of a forcefully retired clown. However at the final stretch of the final day, he asked probably the most important question of us he had asked all week:

Would anybody be a member of this gym, if you did not work here?’

The answer was a resounding, ‘no’.

Not a single person sat in that room, for those three days would want anything to do with the gym unless they were signing their pay cheques.

When prompted why, people threw out lists and list of reasons about shoddy equipment, broken facilities, the actual feel of the place and the way the management went about their business.

There it was, the answer to the sales problem. How could we sell something that we didn’t believe in, that wasn’t motivating us or that we couldn’t even stand up for and list the qualities of the place.

We couldn’t.

Our sales pitches weren’t filled with passion. There was no tie between the gym and us. Even the thought of a commission-based pay packet at the end of the month wasn’t a driver.
If the clients couldn’t see how much we loved the place, we had no hope of convincing them to love the place.

We had to change our view.

We needed to believe in what it was we were doing. We had to want to be members.  We had to become members.

And that’s what we did.

We all started to use our gym more: working out, joining classes, talking to members and drinking coffee. We found the things we loved about the gym (and the things we didn’t love about the gym) and used them to our advantage, and focused on those in our sales.

We became members, sharing our experiences with potential members. Not guys in black shirts, trying to take your £200 a month.

And it worked. In our first month alone we doubled our membership sales, and our retention was up higher than it had been in a long while.

The lesson in all of this?

To be successful, you have to:

Believe in what it is you’re doing

It doesn’t matter what it is you’re trying to be successful at. You have to believe in it. It has to become a part of you.

You need to live it.

Want to be in the best shape of your life? Start picturing you in a swimsuit on the beach. Even go ahead and book the holiday. Tell people about what you’re trying to do, and why you’re trying to do it.

Chasing your dream of being a writer? Tell everyone you meet that’s what you do. Put it on your business cards, twitter bio, call yourself a writer over else.

Opening your own coffee shop? Make it an extension of you. Not just your business, but part of your life. Believe in why your roasts are better than the ones down the street. Why your fresh baked cakes are the best this side of Paris.

Make whatever it is you’re trying to do, part of your every day life. Make it not just an extension of yourself, but an integral part of you.

Nobody will believe you, if you don’t believe it yourself.


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  2 comments for “What One Sales Seminar Taught Me About Success.

  1. Brett
    December 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Top read James, gave me some good for thought, more to think about concerning life goals I have.

    • Brett
      December 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Food for*

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