The Enemy of Success for a Martial Arts Instructor is Complacency

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After the trail lesson, your goal is to convince any potential students to sign up at your school.  It’s all about trial and error and as an experienced martial arts school owner, here are three closes I have used that I would not recommend.

When all else fails, go to a third party to help the prospect make a decision – in this case, I chose Benjamin Franklin, of all people:

“I can see you are having a hard time making a decision. Here’s a technique Ben Franklin used to use. He would draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper and list all the positives to moving forward, and then he would list any negatives. Let’s do the positives first. You will get in better shape, like you said you wanted to. You will have more confidence. You said stress relief was really important to you, and you felt your health was not what it should be. When I asked you if you ever thought about being a black belt, you said it has been on your “wish list” for years. Of course, learning self defense ties right in with that. Let’s see, that’s one-two-three-four-five-six major positives if you enroll. Now tell me, what are the negatives?”

How about this for a hard close? I call it the “Back to the Future” close:

“Joe, I want you to close your eyes for a moment and just imagine what your future life will be like if you earn your black belt. You are in great shape. You’re flexible. You’re powerful, and you are getting high levels of respect and admiration from your friends and family. You have become a leader in their eyes. Now Joe, isn’t that what you really want?”

Then there is the take-away close. I used this for years. You make the financial presentation and then add some artificial inflation:

“As a first-visit incentive, we will reduce the registration by $50 for enrolling today to make it easier for you to get started. So which program works best for you?”

I told you they were rough. Don’t write those down. I know they are good, but only for parties. Don’t use them…

If you have to use these 1980s closes, you didn’t do your job in the trial lesson. This type of hard close often leads to buyer’s remorse. No one likes to be sold, but everyone likes to buy. Trial programs take a lot of the buyer’s remorse out of the process, because the prospect feels in control of the decision and has a clearer understanding of what that decision entails. It’s more comfortable for him or her and a lot easier than drawing lines down the middle of papers or taking people on a contrived time machine. They surely know that any artificial $50 incentive will be available the next day as well as today. Wouldn’t you?

After a good trial program, the paper work should be pretty easy. Imagine your prospect on his tiptoes at the precipice of enrolling, and you are behind him. With the most gentle, soft nudge in the back he or she takes the step. The closes above are more like a bulldozer trying to move a building. There is too much resistance, or you wouldn’t have to resort to such nonsense. Promise me that if you use closes like those you will first put on a polyester suit with wide lapels.

Rather than a tug-of-war, collaborative selling is more like two of you on the same side of a huge rock, pushing it towards enrollment. If one stops pushing, the process is suspended until you both are at it again. This takes longer than a 15-minute sales pitch.

Martial arts instruction is a relationship business. Getting to know what your student really needs and how he can benefit from your school is an important building block of that relationship. At the same time, to be an effective instructor, you have to build the trust of your student so he will not just believe you but believe in you. The trial lesson is a big first step in accomplishing these important goals.

Twelve-month New Student Agreements collected by a good third-party billing company are best sold with a trial-lesson strategy. With good instruction and student service, a school following this plan should be able to build a solid receivable base that will make the cash flow more consistent and help the owner sleep at night.