Posted by: Sales Makers | October 5, 2013

X-Selling at Membership Sales, PREFACE, page 7


September 18, 1979 was the first day that I tried to sell memberships to a health club.  I was the second salesperson hired for a new membership sales team at a foundering Club called; The Courtrooms, in Fort Lauderdale. Ray Gordon was the Sales Manager who interviewed and hired me.  Ironically I had tried to apply for the Sales Manager’s job three weeks earlier, but got annoyed when I got put on hold forever, while waiting for the General Manager (Fred Blaess – much more on him later in this story.) to pick up the phone.  I had been culling the help wanted sections looking for work in sales and a job in a health club would have been perfect since I had recently been involved in a couple of car accidents that had messed up my back.  In fact, the main reason I was living in Florida was because the Doctor’s prescription was either; surgery or swim, I figured I could swim year round in Florida – two weeks later my girlfriend and I had moved from New Jersey.

Immediately prior to my being hired I had worked on Ted Kennedy’s national staff in his 1979 Presidential bid.  I was in charge of three Congressional districts and also involved in various fund-raising activities in Broward County.  As such I did know a lot of people in Fort Lauderdale, so of course I could sell all of them, (I think I sold one – my best friend at the time.)  God knows why they hired me.

Prior to this momentous day my past work experience was relatively checkered.  I have in my past lives – driven a Mister Softee truck, worked as an Underwriters Assistant for an Insurance company, worked in a record store, worked in a Stereo store, managed a College Radio station, been a DJ, promoted rock concerts (Springsteen, Billy Joel, Al Stewart, Little River Band – 33 in total) and managed a 7-11 store (probably the stupidest thing I ever did was to turn down a 7 – 11 franchise for $1. – [I couldn’t see myself running a 7-11 for the rest of my life.  What I didn’t realize was: it didn’t need to be the rest of my life – it could have only been a while and I could have sold it and used that money to further a business career, but NOOO.)

I got the job.

My initial training was:

The first salesperson hired, Tom Murano, toured me through the Club

and wrote the membership prices on a piece of paper.

The paper had the logo at the top and the words;

Social, Fitness and Unlimited, written on the left hand side – about every three inches apart.

Tom told me, “Sell the benefits.”

He then handed me a stack of about fifty guest waivers from guests that had been in the Club in the previous few months.

“When you’ve got three appointments, you can go on the up system.”

Of course, I didn’t know what ups were, but I knew that’s what I wanted.  So, I did something that most good salespeople have done at one time or another, made cold calls to people I didn’t know, without really knowing what to say and without knowing what to ask.  So, I did what most good sales people would do, I faked it AND hated it – mainly I was afraid, of looking stupid.

Somehow I got two appointments and like any good salesperson I dummied up the third and got my first UP.  (Basically, an UP is a turn.  In other words, each salesperson gets a turn to sell somebody who walks into the Club requesting information.  Also, a salesperson gets on the UP System for all Telephone Inquiries – TI’s.)

Raul and Paul, two young Venezuelan students were my first tour and two days later, my first sales.  I somehow managed to show them the Club and to sell them an off-peak membership each.  When they came back into the Club and asked for me, frankly I was surprised that they’d remembered my name and more importantly that they had come back.

I stumbled through the first six months of my new career and discovered:

A.        You’re selling social.

B.        You’re selling the future.

C.        Working around half-naked good-looking people is FUN.

C.    has kept me in this business since 1979; this was supposed to be six months…


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