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Verbal Cues to Use and Spot When Selling Sessions

We spoke a little bit about verbal cues in objections in the last blog about how to sell more personal training sessions, but its important to better understand the more nuanced, indirect verbal cues that you might receive from clients. Reading nonverbal cues is a good segway into figuring out how to read vocal cues in context with the client’s actions. Both verbal and nonverbal cues work together to affirm the message that the other is sending. It’s also important to know the cues you can and should embellish in your pitch to sell more personal training sessions.

Once again, lets lay out our ground rules for giving your pitch:

  1. Exude confidence, not ego
  2. Ask the right questions
  3. Pick your battles wisely and do not waste your own time

Cues Trainers Should Use

Personal training can put clients in intense situations where they need to have some level of comfort with you. Connecting with potential clients on a personal level right off the bat will help to alleviate the possible awkward situations that can arise in training sessions, especially if the client needs help in boosting their confidence. It is your job to remain completely professional to avoid awkward circumstances. Starting out the initial conversation with the client by being very personable and relaxed can cue a sense of trust in you.

Asking open-ended questions is an important method for cuing the client to provide you with more information to adapt your pitch to them. When you take the nonverbal cues into consideration, it allows you to adapt and respond with verbal cues that can move your conversation with the potential client in a positive direction.

Speed and Tone

The speed and tone in which you deliver your pitch are important to how the client will take the information that you are giving them. This goes back to rule #1 – exude confidence. Confidence is very much expressed in the way we speak to people, so make sure you’re speaking with a calm and collected voice. Clients will sense nerves like a shark in bloody water, so don’t give them any reason to run because you have a little shake in your voice. I’m sure you’re awesome at what you do and you know that too! Client testimonials can and should be your own source of confidence, so when you’re feeling those nerves before meeting with a new prospective client, just look at what you have accomplished thus far.


We are 10x more sensitive to the things we hear than we are to the things we visualize. According to a study done by the University of Chicago, the average human ear can distinguish 1,378 noticeable differences in tone. This gives you an awesome amount of power to guide the client’s feelings based on the way you inflect your words.

An example of inflection as a vocal cue
This is the power of inflection in a simple sentence.

For example, if you highlight the fact that your gym just acquired a new piece of really versatile equipment, then you want to reflect that in your voice by using upward inflection to sound excited about it. The client will unknowingly spend the whole time feeding off of the energy you put into the words you say. Therefore, the inflection you use in your voice when you build value should be exciting and build their confidence in you.

However, use downward inflection when you are ready to solidify your confidence in the information and start moving toward closing the sale. Downward inflection is typically used at the end of a sentence. Start out with an upwards inflection to grab attention and then come back down to a lower tone to send home the information you have just given. This better allows you to move from one topic to another, like explaining a client’s training journey with you and then asking the client what results they would like to see out of personal training.

Practice using these inflections by reading this article out loud!

Smiling when speaking

Smiling has a very interesting effect on the way we speak. According to a study done by the University of Portsmouth, there are around 50 different types of smiles that people express during the conversation. Now, this falls under a nonverbal cue, but it also pertains to the way we inflect words through our physical vocalizing of emotion.

A study was conducted to test the acoustic effect on the voices of people who are smiling, not smiling, or frowning. The results proved that the way we express our emotions physically in our facial expressions directly affects the way we vocalize our emotions.

“This suggests that people wishing to convey a positive, approachable, auditory impression, should smile while speaking.”

Happy talk: Perceptual and acoustic effects of smiling on speech by V. C. Tartter from Rutgers University

So, to hammer it in, smiling is extremely important!

Cues Clients Will Use

Now let’s talk about the client’s side of vocal cues. It is very simple to pick up on the signs to close when you better understand the cues you need to use yourself, as the person giving the sales pitch. As with everything, these cues fall on a spectrum of conveying emotions.

The question to ask when measuring this is this: Is the client mirroring my cues? If not, why?


Clients will use level inflection to indicate boredom or disinterest, so be aware of the way the person is responding to your questions and the information you give. A reaction like this might be a result of your lack of inflection in the pitch, but most often, it is a sign of dissonance and should be a signal to start closing. When this happens, you either did not build up the value enough or the person just was not interested in the first place.

Speed and Tone

Their tone and rate of speech can be indicative of their interest in what you have to say. Obviously, if they are quick to respond and don’t ask too many questions, then they probably were not quite interested to begin with. (Rule #3 – pick your battles)

If they are mirroring your speed and tone, then you are on the right track and have good reason to continue informing them. It is important to give the person a chance to speak when you ask them questions. The ball is still in your field when you are leading the conversation, but you can get a sense of interest from the way they vocalize their answers.

If you shoot the pitch, then ask the questions you need to and they give short, quick responses, then its time to close, because they are not completely there to listen. Often, people will just hear your pitch out to be nice but have no intention of signing up. Sometimes, they think that signing up will be an easy way of getting you off their back, so it is always good to try closing with an action like scheduling the person to attend your next class.

Asking Questions

YAY! The clients are interested in you or have an interest in actually getting involved. When a prospective client has some questions to ask after the pitch that means you can close these sales with the answers to their questions.

***Take note of the questions they are asking. If they pertain to basic information about your business, then that’s a cue that you are not conveying the right information in your pitch.

Let this be one thing you take from this article: Closing sales is so ridiculously important to improving your success rate because, on average, almost half of all sales conversations end without a close. Cue the Wayne Gretzky quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Take these notes on how to give cues and how to read them as methods for leading to those closes.

If you liked the content in this article, then check out the rest of our blog here. If you have any feedback or points to make to add on to this information, then leave a comment! Also, if you find yourself successful using these cues and better reading them from people, then please share your success with us. We love hearing from you guys!

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