One of my more surprising traits as a yoga teacher is that I’m from a Sales background….and still work in Sales alongside my teaching. Possibly the most suprising part of this is that I LOVE SELLING!!
I stumbled into a career in sales whilst doing a range of odd jobs at Uni which involved selling tickets for a finance training event, business development for Action for Children charity and a 3 month internship in ‘New Business Development’ for a London based tech company. I then went on to work for Microsoft for 3 years in Sales, to a Sydney tech-start up and now for a start up consultancy in London. I honestly never would have expected I’d end up selling various things for a living, or more so just how passionate about sales.
Without initially realising it, my sales background has been very useful for building my yoga business. I didn’t really have any contacts when I began working on gaining yoga clients in the UK (as I’d been living in Sydney prior to this). Therefore, here goes to how I successfully built up a client base of private students, in less than a month and am now at maximum capacity:
1. Establish who your target audience are
Noticed that on Instagram on Facebook you see advertisements which are spot on for your interests? So much so that you are tempted or have actually clicked on the advertisement and go through to purchase a product from the given company? This is an example of ‘targeted marketing’. The company has established who their target audience are and focused their marketing budget on this given group.
Not sure who your audience is? That’s normal! One thing to consider is that if you are looking to teach private classes and charge an amount which warrants your valuable time as a yoga teacher, you need to find people who have the disposable income to pay for this.
For example, I figured out my target audience is ’35-55 corporate workers’ – typically these people have an interest in exercise already and looking to supplement their workouts with deep stretching and mindfulness to rejuvenate them.
Therefore in networking scenarios it is this audience that I focus my time and energy on….also I focus my marketing (the language/imagery/where I post) at my target audience and I do ‘freebies’ for my target audience…to turn them from cold leads to warm leads (i.e. giving them an intro for what private classes with me would be like…)
2. Manage your pipeline of leads!
OK this sounds lame, I admit that! Day to day as a sales person I make sure me and my team have our pipelines up to date – putting new leads into the system and tracking them through to ‘closing the sale’ and being super efficient in doing so – therefore the client thinks ‘WOW, she’s on it!’
I’m not advocating using a system of any kind (unless you are a large yoga business). However, I definitely advocate tracking down your leads (the people who are interested in your private classes). Maybe this is in an excel and combining this with calendar notifications to tell you ‘message ‘x’ on 24th May to see if she is still considering private classes and what is holding her back?’
This helps to ensure that your ‘maybe’s’ turn into a ‘yes!’ through gentle nudging!
For example, if you meet someone in a cafe who has a friend interested in private classes, how can you make sure this conversations is not forgotten about? By taking down their contact details (providing your card to them also) and popping them a short message after meeting…’Great to meet you today Sarah, would love that intro to your friend Debbie if and when you are ready?’….using a question mark at the end ensures the person you are messaging knows there is an action for them to do.
3. Get your brand out there
Social media is likely to be the king for doing so. I don’t have a huge following but what I wasn’t scared to do was to ask all my friends to ‘like my FB page’ and for people who’d attended my classes to ‘write me a review….pretty please!’
Making sure you pop in your location onto your Facebook page and other social media accounts helps potential students to find you. For example, they may be searching their local area for a teacher and if your beautiful, welcoming page pops up, they will be inclined to contact you.
For your social media pages, make sure you are sharing your best pictures, which represent what you do. Whether this is beautiful yoga poses your target audience would love to get into themselves, maybe it is pictures of you teaching a group of athletes or perhaps videos of ‘how to do the perfect headstand’. Share, share, share. Don’t be afraid to give away your free content as a ‘taster’ of what classes with you would be like.
What worked for me to ‘get myself out there’ is that I did some classes at my local ‘Park run’ and also 10 minute stretch sessions at my local gym after the 7am HIIT class, as I know I have a passion for doing ‘Yoga for Sport’ style classes. This gained me several leads and helped build my network quickly!
4. Ask your potential students (leads) what they are looking for
Day to day as a sales person I LISTEN. I think people often think a sales person talks and talks but actually I’m quite introverted and some of the best sales people I’ve seen have been amazing listeners and adapted their style to the person they are speaking to and fed back what they’ve heard e.g. ‘Thanks Emma for that info – just so I’m 100% sure about how I may be able to help you, am I correct in hearing that you have back pain due to excessive time spent at your desk Monday to Friday? and you are looking for ways to develop your flexibility, particularly in your hamstrings whilst feel more relaxed in day to day life?’
The best sales people take into account exactly what their potential clients are looking for by listening a hell of a lot – not just nodding but REALLY listening. Maybe this is over the phone, maybe over email but ideally face to face as this is the optimal way to build rapport.
You will then be able to discuss how you’ve helped clients with similar challenges in the past (a bit like sharing your case studies which is what I use in my Consultancy day job) and read more into their unique needs so you can tailor their classes according to this. They will more likely book again if so!
5. Ask for Referrals
If you’ve found a new student in your target audience, the likelihood is they will be friends with others in your target audience.
Asking for referrals can be a daunting thing to do, and when I first became a sales person I HATED doing this. However, for the average business, approx 70% of sales comes through referrals. It is a really powerful means of developing new business. I now make it routine that I ask every client which buys from me if they have anyone they would recommend me speaking to about ‘x’ in their London network. It works!
Being specific in your ask is key, not, ‘do you know anyone who likes yoga?’ as this can be misleading – they may not realise what you are truly after. Instead, be completely honest, ‘I’m really enjoying teaching you and looking to develop my business – do you know any one in your network who may be interested?’ or make it even easier for them by creating a Facebook / LinkedIn post they can share.
Let me know your thoughts and if/what of the above is most helpful!