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Step 4: Discover the Problem

The 4 Phases of the Perfect Studio or Gym Sales Consultation

Duration: 30-40 minutes

Goal: to lead a prospect through a conversation that ultimately inspires them to take life-changing action.

Through the discovery process, we uncover the prospect’s PAIN and help them achieve CLARITY.

And when your prospect is clear enough about the pain, they are motivated to make good decisions around their fitness goals.

Unsure of His Value, He Trusted the Process and Went from $0 To $13,000 a Month – In Just 12 Months

Aaron Raney | Iron Therapy

Step 4: Discover the Problem

This step is most effective when you ask questions that cover the following four areas:

  1. Motivation: Why does this matter right now?
  2. Obstacles: What’s standing in their way?
  3. Goals: What does success look like to them?
  4. Gap: Why can’t you do it on your own?

This part of the conversation takes time.

So, invest the majority of your time in the sales process executing this AUTO-CLOSER® step (30-40 minutes).

Let’s cover each of these in turn:


By asking about motivation, you’re helping your prospect make an emotional connection to their pain to uncover the real reason they’re ready for a change.

This is the most important step in the discovery process.

In other words, the pain of staying the same has to be bigger than the effort it takes to make a change.

It’s not easy to change your lifestyle.

And having the focus, discipline, and willpower to reach a goal – requires a driving force that motivates you to take action.

Your job is to help them discover what that driving force is.

First, ask your prospect what made them take the time out of their busy schedule to be here today.

Then wait.

Typically they’ll give you one of three reasons:

  • A goal
  • A problem
  • Their pain

Some people are well aware and not afraid to share precisely what pain they’re experiencing around some issue. With some, it may take a little more probing.

Regardless, whatever answer they give, you will still need to drill down further to get to the emotional pain associated with that goal/problem/pain.

Goal Statement Example

Let’s say your prospect (Wendy) wants to lose 20 pounds. 

This is identified as a goal.

You need to uncover the pain she’s experiencing due to being 20 pounds over her goal weight.

Here are a series of questions you could ask her to drill down further for that pain to surface:

  • Why is losing 20 pounds important to you?
  • Why does that matter?
  • Why now?
  • What happens if you don’t achieve it?
  • If that doesn’t change, where would you be headed? What would that look like? What would that feel like?

If Wendy doesn’t have concrete answers to these questions, she’s probably lacking the motivation to meet her goal.

That’s why it’s super important to continue to drill down until she can see the pain associated with the extra 20 pounds.

Problem Statement Example

Now let’s look at an example of a problem.

Wendy came in today because her doctor told her she needed to lose 20 pounds.

Again, ask a series of WHY questions to surface the emotional pain attached to what the doctor told her:

  • How does that make you feel?
  • Why is it so important right now for you to address this?
  • What will happen if you don’t lose weight?
  • If this doesn’t change, where does this lead? What does that look like? What does that feel like?

Again you’re giving them clarity around the emotional pain behind the problem.

And that’s what drives action.

Pain Statement Example

Finally, suppose that Wendy unleashed all of the pain that drove her to meet with you today.

Her reason for coming to you is that she fears falling and breaking something. She explains she doesn’t have time to be out of commission because she takes care of her family and works full-time.

Continuing, she informs you she’s just been diagnosed with Osteoporosis and is uncomfortable taking medication because of side effects.

She understands she needs to get stronger and fears what will happen if she doesn’t.

This moment just became an opportunity to listen, reiterate that pain, sit in that pain with your prospect, and have compassion and understanding. 

If you feel you need to go a little deeper, ask some other questions.

Remember, it’s their pain – not yours. So don’t be afraid of letting that emotion bubble up. 

Allow them to experience it (even if it makes you uncomfortable). 

Here’s the deal.

That pain is a gift.

That discomfort and dissatisfaction is the driving force to change their behavior… a change that has the power to transform their life.

So don’t let your discomfort cause you to take their pain lightly or steer the conversation in another direction.


Because you’ll lose the energy – the friction – they must experience to make a change.

It may be a little bumpy initially, and you may feel an impulse to mirror that emotional response and tell them not to cry or that everything will be ok.

It’s natural for us to want to get a crying person to stop crying.

Not this time.

Let them own it and BE PRESENT in the moment with them.

And (if you’re a good fit), whether they’ve shared a goal, a problem, or pain, your support will ultimately lead them to make the change that will transform their life.


Ensure that you’re clear 

In this step of the sales process, listening is key.

As the salesperson, you’re asking the prospective client questions that will help you better understand why they’ve decided to ask for help at this time. 

So, if you’re not listening to their answers, you’ll miss out on the information you need to help them achieve their goals.

If you find yourself talking too much during this process, simply ask another question to let your prospect know they can continue to share.

Then, when you feel you have completely uncovered their pain, use a method called SUMMARY & STACK to make sure you’ve got it right:

  • Summarize your conversation by repeating the highlights of what the client shared with you about their pain.
  • Use the words they used. This means you must be a good listener.
  • Confirm your statement by asking, “Is that right?” so they can further clarify any points if necessary.

Why this skill of repeating back what they’ve said is so important:

  1. It shows them you’ve heard them and you understand.
  2. It triggers agreement because they have to acknowledge what they just stated (It’s like holding up a mirror).
  3. It creates alignment when you share how you see this picture in terms of motivation for them in this area.



Once you’re clear on the motivation and pain of your prospect, it’s time to get clarity on what they perceive is standing in their way.

So you want to ask questions that prompt them to tell you more about their journey:

  • What other challenges are holding you back from where you want to be?
  • Why haven’t you been able to accomplish these goals?
  • What have you tried in the past?
  • How often have you tried to improve your goal, problem, or pain and failed?
  • How much have you invested in solving this problem you have yet to figure out?

These questions give context to the known obstacles and challenges and help us quantify the things standing in the way of their goals.

Once you’ve listened and heard them, do another round of SUMMARY & STACK.

(This is where you begin to stack your summary with the elements you’re clarifying – motivation, obstacles, goals, and gap.)

So as you summarize and stack this time, you will cover motivation and obstacles. 

Repeat what you heard back to them by highlighting and summarizing the main points – including their pain points around motivation first and then their obstacles.

Confirm by asking them if what you said sounds right.

If yes, move on or give them time to add further clarification.



When discussing their goals, the first question you want to ask is:

What does success look like to you in this area of your life?

Ask them to visualize accomplishing their goals in a few  bullet points:

  • What do they see?
  • How do they feel?
  • How has their life changed?

It takes some pressure testing to see what they’re envisioning.

During this exercise, you want to make sure their goal is REALISTIC.

Those who have failed are often scared to set any goal because they’ve never developed the trust and momentum to achieve a goal.

And their confidence is shot.

That’s why they need to be able to trust you to help them set a successful goal.

Based on your experience, you can discuss a reasonable goal for them, including a general time frame to accomplish it. 

Then make your recommendation and assure them that with your support and their commitment to push themselves, you believe that together, you can accomplish this goal. 

That statement will:

  • Build their confidence.
  • Set expectations.
  • Position your authority and credibility in solving this problem.

Sometimes, however, you may experience someone who states an unrealistic goal sounding off bells of delusion. 

There’s a way to handle that too.

You have to take a moment to talk through that goal with them realistically.

Discuss where they are right now and the progression path it would take for them to reach that unrealistic goal. (It might take years to do that safely and effectively.)

Be kind.

And help them RIGHT-SIZE their goal.

Their goal must match the commitment it will take and the investment required to meet it.

On the other hand, if it’s too small, they probably don’t need you to help them.

So doing some pressure testing to get the goal right will assure you have a good fit on both sides.

Ensure that the goal you’ve come up with is something they can realistically envision themselves achieving.

Once you’ve clarified their goal, do your Summary & Stack once again, and this time you’ll include motivation, obstacles, and goals.


  • What’s got them motivated
  • The obstacles that are hindering their progress
  • Their realistic goal and time to accomplish it

Finish your summary with “Does that sound about right to you?”

Again, by stacking all the points they’ve shared in your recap (motivation/obstacles/goals), you’ve confirmed you understand and gained an agreement from them.



When a prospect comes to you for support, they have a vision of how you will help them on their fitness journey.

Often, people say they’re too busy, don’t know where to begin, or lack the motivation to get started. 

Getting them to voice their perception of support can be accomplished by asking them the following questions:

  • What’s keeping you from reaching your fitness goals on your own?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to achieving your goals?

Identifying areas where they need help to succeed is the goal here.

They may need to know more about assessment or the program design. 

Or they may need your support with showing up and doing the workout properly. 

Asking them about their commitment level (scale of 1-10) allows you to drill down to specifics. (You want a 10.)

But if they give you anything less than 10 for an answer, ask them to clarify that. (Why?)

For example, if they say 8 or 9, ask them what they need to get to a 10.

The information they provide allows you to identify how to position yourself to add value and fill that gap. 

So ask them, “If I support you with (XYZ), will that get you to a 10?”

If they say yes, you’ll do one more SUMMARY & STACK, which now includes all four components of the discovery conversation:

  • Motivation
  • Obstacles
  • Goals
  • Gap

Once you’ve summarized all of their pain points, they have clarity, you have clarity, and you’re in alignment – you’re ready to begin the presentation.

A simple transition statement would be:

Great! So let me tell you a little more about the program and how I can help you solve these problems.

Make this your ride-or-die statement.

Once you come up with something you’re comfortable saying, memorize it, and use it every time to move into your presentation.

The Discovery Step we’ve just covered is complex. 

It’s going to take you a little time to get comfortable with asking questions, listening, and being able to summarize and stack those conversations.

And that’s ok.

But – it’s where PRACTICE matters.

This is the most effective and powerful step.

Gaining clarity through discovery is THE WAY to lead change with prospective clients.

So, read this as many times as it takes, role play with someone, and practice, practice, practice.

Here are some KEY POINTS to remember:

  • Just showing up is a HUGE step for some people. The stories you hear are often years in the making before they feel confident enough to ask for help. 
  • Most people taking this step are way out of their comfort zone. So make them comfortable by letting them know you’re there for them and care about them.
  • Craft your questions to gain insight into how you can best serve someone. (Make them good ones!)
  • Don’t rush through steps 2-3 (Rapport, Set Agenda, and Discovery). This is where you’ll spend the bulk of your time during a consultation because you need time to build the problems and close the sale.

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