It’s All About Timing…. Picture the scene, you’re in the supermarket, at the gym, at a social event. You’re introduced to a person or they approach you with the opening line, “ I hear you teach Pilates, what’s it all about? It’s easy to launch into the whole story about the history of Joseph Pilates, his internment, his flight from Germany to the US, meeting Clara his wife blahblahblah….
Someone has pushed your button, if you’re not careful you’ll either bore them rigid because they were only being polite, making small talk or you’ll completely waste your time. So think about this. When we decide to do something, change our behavior in some way: Stop smoking Take up exercise Start smoking (just kidding)! We go through Six Stages of Change, this process was identified by James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente in the late 1970s and early 80s at the University of Rhode Island, when they were studying how smokers give up their addiction.
SIX STAGES OF CHANGE
- Pre-contemplation. Ignorance is bliss, the person has no desire to change behavior.
- Contemplation.Acknowledgement of the need for change but not ready.
- Preparation. Getting ready
- Action. Changing behavior
- Maintenance. Maintaining behavior changes
- Relapse. Returns to old behavior, abandons the changes
Let’s get back to the party. You have just met someone who throws out the comment “what’s this Pilates all about?” Depending which STAGE OF CHANGE they’re at will determine your response.
How can you tell?
A few simple questions will quickly let you know how far long the process they are, or if they’re just filling in time waiting for more interesting company. Your first response to the “what’s it all about” should be short and sweet. Practice a concise reply, e.g. “its a body conditioning system that will improve posture, tone and shape”. Sometimes that’s the end of the conversation about Pilates – they change the subject. Pre-contemplation.
If they continue with questions, ask them for their contact details so you can send information. This causes a couple reactions:
- They tell you they’re looking at various options Contemplation
- They are happy to give you details. Preparation
Avoid getting into detailed explanations in a nonprofessional atmosphere. They won’t remember anyway. If they’re happy to give you contact details, suggest you make an appointment for a consultation.
They may not be ready to commit to an appointment. Preparation
Make sure you send the information as promised. Always carry your business card and or schedule so you can quickly hand it to them even if they don’t want to go further than a basic enquiry. This way they can contact you when they’re ready.
Always follow up. Whether you post out hard copy information or send it by e mail when you think they should have received the information contact them to confirm receipt. Avoid trying to move them forward in the process at this point. Your contact is purely to confirm they have received the information and to answer any questions.
Finish this conversation/email by asking their permission to contact them again. This will stop the feeling of the cold call as well as give them the opportunity to stop you contacting them. They’ll feel in control.
The second follow up should come 3-5 days later. This time the enquiry is about any further questions and some kind of incentive to make an appointment either to attend a class or consultation for a personal training session.
The third and final follow up at this stage, assuming they’ve not made any commitment to classes or personal training is to acknowledge they’re obviously very busy, that you’ll not contact them again other than to update them on new events, classes and offers. This will sometimes move them towards the Action stage. If it doesn’t then you can keep them on the database with their permission to keep in touch.
Of course you want the process to be smooth so they move into the Action and Maintenance stages. During this time you’re developing a stronger relationship with them, it is in your ongoing business interest to keep this relationship alive, creative and happy.
It’s a natural cycle of life that the Relapse stage will come along at some point. Maybe they just break routine by going on holiday, family of work commitments change so the process starts all again.
This time however the initial stages will move along more quickly as it’s a familiar place for them, the decision making process will be easier. Of course we want them to return to us so the relationship we have built must be maintained, even if they’re in their Relapse phase, keep in touch, so when the Action stage comes around again they know where to go and that they’ll be welcomed back with a smile.
These Six Stages of Change relate to any behavior changes the sooner you get to grips with recognising the various ways to interpret your potential new clients reaction and connect to one of the six stages, the sooner you will be able to join the conversation.
About the author:
Nuala Coombs Bio
I have been a student, teacher and teacher trainer in all aspects of ﬁtness since 1979. As one of the founding directors of the Pilates Institute UK, I have been at the forefront of Pilates education and innovation helping to create the criteria for best practice with the method.
From 1999 through April 2008 I was course developer and facilitator for the Pilates Institute UK. During this time I travelled extensively delivering teacher training programmes and workshops together with presenting at international conventions.
In May 2008 I relocated to the South of France to develop my business, assisting teachers, student teachers as well as Pilates enthusiasts get the most from their Pilates practice by improving their personal technique. I also offer career development and guidance on any aspect of Pilates.
My dedicated Pilates studio in the village of La Garde Freinet, 20 minutes from St Tropez offers training and mentorship to student teachers as well as established Pilates teachers. The studio is a space for everyone whatever their level of ability – teachers, students as well as enthusiasts – all are welcome.
Contact me at Go2nuala@mac.com for details of workshops, retreats or personal training.