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Selling the Sizzle, Not the Steak

What is Sizzle?

sizzling steak

According to Elmer Miller, famous head of the Tested Selling Institute of the 1930s and 40s, it’s not the cow that sells the steak, it’s the sizzle. In this analogy, the cow represents the concrete facts and information about your product. In fitness, your cow is information about the health and performance benefits of fitness. The sizzle on the other hand is the excitement you infuse into your sales conversation. It is the aroma, flavor and emotional appeal that makes your customer want to be a part of the fitness community. Sizzle is conveyed in the language, gestures and facial expressions you use when talking about your product.

Uncover the Need

In order to appeal to your customers on an emotional level, you must first identify their needs. If you can find out why they are interested in your services, you can steer the sales conversation in the right direction. Needs analysis is best done by asking open ended questions that require more than a yes or no response, and then listening attentively to the customer’s answers. This strategy will prompt your customer to reveal their underlying purpose for considering your products or services. You can then enthusiastically describe how you are able to meet and exceed their expressed needs.

Anticipate the Objection


Once you uncover your customer’s needs, be prepared to overcome any objections they may have. The four most common underlying reasons given for not purchasing are no need, no time, no money and lack of trust. If you have done a good job of analyzing needs, you have already eliminated the first objection. Lack of time is the most common excuse people use for not exercising. Explaining how scheduled sessions can fit into their busy agenda, or how a 30-minute circuit three times per week can give them fabulous results will overcome time objections. Focusing on the customer’s needs and not on the price will help to overcome financial objections. Remember, they came to talk about fitness, not about money. By anticipating objections in advance of the sales interview, you will easily be able to override them.

Cultivate Trust


Trust is a fundamental requirement for any human relationship. If someone dislikes you, it is probably because they do not trust you. Customers are more likely to buy from you if they sense that your are genuine, and that you really care about them. Verbal language, facial expressions, eye contact and body language are all important elements that customers use to determine whether or not you are trustworthy. Spend time each day practicing your game face in front of the mirror. Think about which adjectives and expressions you can use to convey excitement and sizzle during your sales conversation. Above all, be yourself and show your customers that you really care about meeting their needs.


Do you know how to price your sessions, market your services, and plan your business? Being in business for yourself can be challenging and at times scary. Educating yourself about the business end of fitness is crucial if you are to succeed. W.I.T.S. understands that your love of fitness needs to be matched with some business savvy. We offer numerous courses and certifications that will equip you with business fundamentals, all of them geared specifically to the fitness industry. Get started today with certifications in Fitness Management, Personal Trainer Certification, or with our many Business and Marketing continuing education courses, all at your fingertips.

References Elmer Wheeler – Don’t Sell The Steak, Sell the Sizzle

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