Health & Fitness Business '06: SNEWS® Fitness Forum – "How to Ace the SNEWS® Mystery Shopper and Upgrade Your Shoppers' Experiences" - SNEWS

Health & Fitness Business '06: SNEWS® Fitness Forum – "How to Ace the SNEWS® Mystery Shopper and Upgrade Your Shoppers' Experiences"

Back for a second time this year at the Health & Fitness Business Show was the SNEWS® Fitness Forum, an educational panel discussion for all show attendees, where the topic and speaker-audience give-and-take made for an invigorating and thought-provoking 90 minutes.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Back for a second time this year at the Health & Fitness Business Show was the SNEWS® Fitness Forum, an educational panel discussion for all show attendees, where the topic and speaker-audience give-and-take made for an invigorating and thought-provoking 90 minutes.

With several decades of mystery shopping experience under our belt and the cry for more training, both product and sales, heard loudly from retailers and staff, the team at SNEWS® and GearTrends® decided that sales training and education – what goes right, what goes wrong, and how to fix it – was the topic of choice for the second annual forum, moderated and refereed by SNEWS® editor-in-chief Therese Iknoian.

"How to Ace the SNEWS® Mystery Shopper and Upgrade Your Shoppers' Experiences" was the title that was gleefully tackled by the panel, including independent sales trainer Tom Richard, leadership and business development consultant Tony Enrico, Lifestyle/All About Fitness retail owner Chip Hunnings, and Bodyguard director of USA business development John Conti. After each introduced one area of sales that can go wrong, the panel discussed training and then the floor was opened for an interactive discussion with attendees that had hands popping up to ask questions until the last minute of the session.

"We're not selling fitness equipment," said Conti. "We're not selling the pen, we're selling writing" with the pen.

"Is the goal to sell equipment or to increase the quality of life?" he later added.

Tom, Tony, Chip and John get on their soapboxes
Each of our four panelists first took a few minutes to introduce their own pet peeves.

Sales trainer Richard said he feels sales staff don’t engage the customers enough using the great questions that could be posed to get them talking and learn more to be able to truly fill a need. "The customer needs to feel comfortable," he said. A customer doesn't come in looking for belts, decks and rollers, he said; they need help and want solutions. "Let them talk," he advised.

"If you're talking, you're selling," he said. "If they're talking, they're buying."

Although with little background in fitness – except through osmosis since his father, Dick Enrico, runs 2nd Wind -- Enrico comes from a background of developing business for multi-national companies. But small or large, dumbbells or computers, "it's easy to get into techs and specs," he said. "Throwing out product knowledge or talking over the customer isn't going to work," he said.

"The traditional approach is to beat people up and change them into you," he explained of a sales manager tendency. Instead, "find their talent and uniqueness."

Hunnings, a long-time retailer who owns stores in several states, said doing a proper equipment demo can get lost in the process. "Customers want to touch and feel" the equipment, he said. But first a store has to get the floor ready, making sure equipment is assembled and working. A store has to "stage" the floor to that a salesperson can transition smoothly from piece to piece. Third, sales staff needs to show the right stuff in the right order. Starting with the lowest prices isn't the best, he recommends.

"Start at the top," he said. He advised that a sales person forget about a customer's stated space and price goals, but start with something like "Let's start with product x" because it has everything and then the discussion can better discern what's important to the customer. Use what they say, too, he said. For example if they say they wanted to be able to do more runs down the slope skiing, then when you show them an incline on a treadmill, relate it to that goal.
"Here, try this," he suggests as a segue to get someone on a piece. And, at the end of it all, make a recommendation to them based on their goals and needs.

John Conti, who started three decades ago as a salesman on the store floor, wrapped up the first intro segment by discussing the fact that sales staff need to be prepared. Properly preparing salespeople rests on management. First, a store should hire the right people, not just someone passing time.

"They need to associate livelihood and income with career," Conti said. "Get it right. Spend the time.

"Execute process to knowledge: Knowledge is power," he added. "Power is control."

Discussion and questions
After the intro by each, the forum was quickly turned into a discussion, then followed with more than 30 minutes of questions from the audience. Not all may have agreed with what a panelist said, but thoughts and discussion were provoked.

Asked Urban Fitness' Ryan McDowell, How do you combat a discounting culture? Hunnings said that building relationships helps hurdle that rather than just thinking about moving product.

A part of the discussion focused on used equipment, whether to bother taking trade-ins and, if you do, how to handle them. Danny Snyder from Exercise Unlimited said he can make a good profit from selling trade-ins, often since they aren't or are hardly used by the customer. Plus, said another, trade-ins create customers for you since it gives someone a reason to come back.

SNEWS® View: First, SNEWS® would like to publicly thank our four panelists for their time and energy in participating in the second-annual Forum. It was a huge success with attendees trying to squeeze in more questions even as the clock told us we had to shut it down since the Expo was opening. It was a dynamic panel too, with strong personalities with strong openings. That of course helped attendees pipe up and creating interesting banter on certain topics. We at SNEWS® hope the panel provoked some thought among those who attended. We are already hard at work contemplating topics and organization for next year. Got ideas? Please contact Therese Iknoian at Therese@snewsnet.com.

Related

Health & Fitness Business '06: SNEWS® Fitness Forum shapes up, book signing not to miss, plus on-floor seminars

As the Health & Fitness Business Expo inches closer, plans for the 2nd Annual SNEWS® Fitness Forum are shaping up to offer yet another show kick-off event that should be on every attendee's do-not-miss list, with a book signing following on the show floor. >>SNEWS® Fitness ...read more

Health & Fitness Business '06: SNEWS® Fitness Forum not to miss, plus speakers, golf, SNEWS® Online Java Lounge, and more show news…

With only eight weeks to go, the pace of exhibitors signing up and buyers registering is picking up -- after a bit of a slow start and a few registration computer glitches. Plus, the theme of the second annual SNEWS® Fitness Forum panel discussion for the first morning is shaping ...read more

Health & Fitness Business '07: SNEWS® Forum tackles how to meet women's needs

We are finally starting to wrap up several weeks of show coverage that began Aug. 2. So don't miss any of the reports, podcasts or the two SNEWS® live daily HotSheet newsletters -- all available in archives (if you have a paid, full-access subscription and not a free limited ...read more

Health & Fitness Business '08: SNEWS Fitness Forum highlights pros of industry collaborative groups

Continuing its tradition in tackling hard topics and facilitating open discussion in the industry, the 4th annual SNEWS® Fitness Forum at the Health & Fitness Business Expo focused on the need for fitness industry collaboration as a way to help it move ahead and grow -- a ...read more

SNEWS® Live: HFB SNEWS® Forum tackles how to meet women's needs

The Health & Fitness Business Show kicked off its first morning with two educational sessions, one being the 3rd annual SNEWS® Fitness Forum, where topics that are key to the industry are tackled in an open format with outspoken panelists and hard-hitting audience questions. This ...read more

FitnessForum09Thumbnail.jpg

Health & Fitness Business ’09 education: SNEWS Fitness Forum covers ‘State of the Industry’ and retail tips, Joe Marcoux discusses 4 R’s of Retail

As a part of two educational offerings at the recent Health & Fitness Business show, the 5th annual SNEWS® Fitness Forum offered tips and discussion from seasoned retail experts with a State of the Industry report, while Joe Marcoux talked his 4 R’s of Specialty Retail. Both ...read more

HFB_Blue.jpg

Health & Fitness Business '09: Product preview, SNEWS forum, parties and more

Only days before the kick-off of the 2009 Health & Fitness Business Show, events, education, parties and products won't lack despite an audience forecast to be smaller. "While there is a great deal of uncertainty in the retail fitness marketplace, show management has done ...read more

Health & Fitness Biz Show: Event to offer more education, GearTrends® Forum, food, parties

Heading into its 2005 edition, the Health & Fitness Business Show has rounded up more education and higher-quality speakers and panels, and will host the first GearTrends® Fitness Forum, followed by a free lunch for morning conference attendees. With registration just open for ...read more

Mystery Shopper: Meeting a unique challenge in the quest for fitness

SNEWS® heads to Yorba Linda, Calif., for yet another in our popular Mystery Shopping series. We always like to point out: Our goal with these Mystery Shoppers is not to praise one particular store or person -- or to pick on one person or one -- but to point out what went wrong ...read more