If you have been in my world for any time at all, you have heard me talk about my dog MJ.

Named after my childhood hero Michael Jordan, MJ is part beagle, part pug, and 100% rockstar salesman.

That’s right, my dog is a better salesman than you or I will ever be. He is so keenly focused on selling me on the idea of sharing my food with him, that it is worth sharing some of his strategies with you to help improve your sales technique.

Dogged Determination (pun intended)

I was reading a Jeffrey Gittomer book the other day and he mentions that nearly all lost sales could have been won if you had just tried one last time. Persistence is key and MJ is the most persistent “person” I know. If there is a presence of food in the room, he will not stop trying to convince you to share with him until the absolute last crumb is gone and the smell of food has left the room. It doesn’t matter if I’m eating a carrot or a chicken wing, he is there ready for the opportunity.

He recognizes that if he just lays on the other side of the room and doesn’t respond, even once, he could miss a great opportunity. So he shows up, every single time. If you have a prospect you are about to give up on, ask them one last time. Even if the potential sale is small, call them again. Send them a text. Mail them a hand written letter. Ask their friend to let them know you’re trying to reach them. Never stop trying to win them over. Have no fear about asking again for a sale, even if you’ve been rejected in the past. MJ doesn’t fear rejection and neither should you.

Never miss an opportunity

Many of us don’t realize when an opportunity to sell is in front of us. But MJ never misses an opportunity. If there is even a hint that food is available, he is right there with his salesman cap on. If I open the fridge or the cabinet, or even if I walk into the kitchen, MJ somehow locates himself directly at my feet, ready for any opportunity to convince me to share with him.

Recognizing opportunities is one of the most valuable traits a salesperson can possess. Instead of watching for open fridges and cabinets, you can watch for clues that a person wants what you have to offer. If a member mentions they have a vacation coming up, you have an opportunity to pitch a program that will get them in great shape quickly. If a client mentions they won’t have time to eat before they go back to work, sell them a meal replacement bar or shake. If a prospect mentions her husband talked about coming to try it out, offer a family membership. If someone behind you in the grocery store line comments on your healthy food selections, invite them to a nutrition workshop or offer to help them with a meal plan. Opportunities abound, even though sometimes we don’t recognize them when they present themselves.

Always show up.

Sometimes you just aren’t in the mood to work, or to sell, or to recognize opportunities. But if you’re like MJ, it doesn’t matter. He could be completely exhausted, in deep sleep, on the other side of the house, cozy in his bed, and if even the slightest hint of an opportunity for food presents itself, nothing else matters…he is right there ready to close the deal. Every. Single. Time. Without. Fail.

And he doesn’t just drag himself off of the comfy sofa (aka your office). He leaps at the opportunity to close the sale. When there is an opportunity to sell, he gets to work immediately. He recognizes that timing is critical and that good opportunities don’t last long. If you realize the best opportunity to do something to improve your business or close a sale is right now, don’t wait until tomorrow. Don’t wait 5 minutes. Take care of business now, with exuberance, and you will close more sales than ever.

Go straight to the decision maker

When MJ sees an opportunity for food, he goes straight to the decision maker…the person with the food. It doesn’t matter who else is in the room, he goes straight to the person who has the power to award or deny the prize. And if there are multiple people with food, he goes straight to the person who he feels will give him a Yes answer the fastest. He focuses all of his attention on the person with the food. It doesn’t matter what other distractions are in the room, his focus is on the person who has the power to say yes.

So if a couple comes in to check out your facility, and you can tell right away that the wife is going to have the final say in the matter, don’t focus your attention on selling to the husband. Focus on the person who holds the final power to say yes.

Focus on the big sale

If I am eating something and some crumbs falls on the floor, MJ won’t budge. I’m sure he recognizes that a crumb has presented itself, and he logs it in his memory to clean up later, but he never takes his eye off of the main prize. Sure, he could come over and easily sweep up the crumbs and call it a day, but he knows there is a much better reward if he is patient and focuses on the big sale. Plus he knows that after he closes the big sale, he has plenty of opportunity for smaller upsells (crumbs) afterwards.

When selling to our audience, we all to often get distracted by smaller opportunities and miss out on the big opportunities. We sell a starter 3-pack of personal training rather than selling the $500/month plan. We settle for a prospect leaving with a trial membership rather than a full membership. We settle for getting only an email address because it’s easier than asking for a phone number. Keep your focus on the big reward, then come back and clean up the remaining crumbs.

Adjust as necessary

MJ is a master of matching whatever mood you want him to be in. If you want him to be cuddly, he’s cuddly. If you want him to play, he plays. If you want him to give you distance, he gives you distance. If he wants the food you’re eating and he feels his strategies aren’t working, he adjusts accordingly. Sometimes you get the puppy dog eyes. Sometimes he recognizes you need distance so he sits a few extra feet away. If he feels he’s too far away, he’ll scoot closer. If he thinks he’s too close, he’ll scoot farther away. He’ll adjust his appearance by pulling his ears back or cocking his head. He’ll put his paw on you if he thinks that physical touch might help. He’ll throw his ass in the air and start playfully wagging his tail and grumbling if being polite isn’t working. He has a completely different approach for me, another for my wife, and more for others who might be holding food that he wants.

One single sales approach will never work for every one of your prospects. Sometimes sales are made by mirroring and matching your prospect. In some cases empathy and being the good guy works. In other cases tough love and being the bad guy works. Sometimes you lean back, sometimes you lean in. Sometimes you get excited, other times you stay calm. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry. And sometimes you throw your ass in the air and start wagging your tail and grumbling. Whatever it takes, whoever you need to be, just do it. I’m not saying to sacrifice who you are solely to make a sale. I’m saying that there is a person in front of you who needs you to convince them to say yes to you. Their lives will be better for it and sometimes you just need to do whatever it takes.

Follow up sales

I mentioned before that MJ will ignore the crumbs in order to claim the big prize. But he never forgets about those crumbs. Once he has the main prize, every time without fail he will follow up to see what else he can claim. No matter how small the crumb, he is there to clean it up and to sniff out other opportunities.

When selling fitness, sometimes we are so excited to have closed a sale that we miss opportunities for upsells, downsells, and cross sales. If I buy a general membership from you, I would be a good candidate for an introductory personal training package or a group X upgrade. If I tell you I work at a local office, I have co-workers who would benefit from your gym also. If I’m at the gym working out, I am a good candidate for a bottle of water or a protein bar. Never miss an opportunity to clean up every crumb available.

Customer loyalty

When it comes to managing accounts, MJ has it all figured out. Even after he has closed a sale and gotten the food, he never stops nurturing the client. He’ll snuggle with me, follow me around the house, and make himself available for me no matter what I need. In fact he has his head on my thigh as I type this paragraph right now. He recognizes that sales aren’t just made in the moment of opportunity. He also recognizes that I am not just a one time sale.

Just like MJ, you want your primary clients to recognize that even though you are focused on closing sales with them, you also like them, want to spend time with them, and are generally focused on their happiness even when the opportunity to sell isn’t readily available. Just like MJ, you need to recognize that more and bigger sales are available if you get your clients to know, like, and trust you. You want them to realize that you are consistently there for them no matter what. This approach always leads to bigger and better sales in the future.

Follow these tips from my dog MJ, and I have no doubt you’ll close many more sales.


    9 replies to "Fitness Sales Lessons You Can Learn From My Dog"

    • this is a great lesson in being the best you can be, and learned from a very smart dog, who is leaving up to his namesake, MJ.
      Your “lessons” learned articles are always informative and insightful, but this one ranks at the top of the list.
      Thank you for Sharing MJ’s sales techniques. I will apply them today in my business.

    • Stacy Wheeler

      This is great Curtis. My dog is the same way. Maybe I should have him at the studio with me every day!

    • I’m glad to see you back in the saddle Curtis! Your daughter is adorable by the way. (As is MJ!) I haven’t heard you mention him in a while. This was a great article and a great start to a great day!

    • Jacqueline

      I miss MJ. Come back to FL and bring him by the gym!

    • Chris Sayers

      What a cool dog. And a great article. I always look forward to your emails Curt!

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