Pitching a Winner

By Craig Johns

This week, while discussing why Triathlon ACT has achieved record participation and membership this season, I was curiously asked how I pitch triathlon to an adult who isn’t already involved the sport. I was excited to be asked that question (You ask why?), because I love being able to sell an emotional connection.

What you will read below showcases the basic fundamentals of selling in a way that is non-threatening, captivates through an emotional connection and builds a memorable relationship.

I will provide you with the four key basic selling fundamentals at the end of this article, but for now, here is how the conversation went:

Curious George: You have achieved record membership this season, how do you sell triathlon, a sport that we see for the fitness freaks, to people not involved in the sport?

Me: Do you have children?

Curious George: Yes, two

Me: How old are they?

Curious George: 7 & 10

Me: What was it like, for you as a parent, the first time your children were awarded their first certificate at school?

Curious George: My wife and I were so excited. I felt like the world’s coolest dad. I was so proud and couldn’t stop smiling. 

Me: That was a very special moment for you, wasn’t it?

Curious George: Yes, I have never felt so proud in my life, it sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it.

Me: What did you notice about your children as they received the certificate?

Curious George: My child was the happiest child in the world. He couldn’t stop smiling, was so energetic and couldn’t come and wait to show me his certificate. 

Me: You can’t stop smiling and is that a tear I see in your eye?

Curious George: Seeing your children achieve something is a an amazing feeling as a parent. It is quite hard to fully explain the emotions you experience. It brings back great memories when I was a child

Me: When you first take the step to sign up for a triathlon, you feel the same apprehension, excitement and nervousness as you did when you getting ready to start your first day of school. The first few weeks of training are like the first few weeks of school where you are trying to establish a routine, make new friends and understand all the new information. This is mixed with lots of fun, smiles and praise that makes you feel like you are on top of the world. But, it all also seems a bit daunting, overwhelming and there maybe a couple of tears at time. When you cross the line it is that same feeling of accomplishment and rush of adrenaline when you hear your name called in assembly, you walk to the stage in front of all your school mates, you get a handshake, receive the certificate from the Principal and a “well done George, we are so proud of you”.

Curious George: I remember that feeling as it was just yesterday.

Me: When you cross the finish line in a triathlon, hear your name over the loud speaker, then someone hands you a finishers medal and your children and wife give you a big hug, that same feeling of emotion you had as a school kid comes flooding back and it is the most amazing feeling.

Curious George: Wow, I never thought of it like that.

Me: Do you know what is even better than the feeling the emotion of getting the certificate?

Curious George: No

Me: You can be a part of an amazing community who are there to support, teach and coach you to achieve something you first thought wasn’t possible. Let me show you how easy it is to sign up for your first event and join one of our amazing triathlon clubs.

………. (The deal is now being closed)


What many people don’t understand is that being successful in any organisation is all about being an outstanding salesperson, entertainer and positive influencer. You need to be able to tell a story and create an engaging and emotional connection with a wonderful feeling that people have experienced before. You need to be able to paint an authentic picture and sell the real thing. Taking a used-car-salesman approach, selling something that people don’t want or need, will leave you stranded in the long-term.

So what are the four key basic selling fundamentals to help you secure more participants, members and consumers:

  1. Find the CONNECTION (gather)
    • “finding out whether they have experienced a similar feeling to the journey when preparing for, doing and crossing the finish line”
  2. Create an EMOTION (respond)
    • “emphasise the euphoria experienced when crossing the finish line and achieving something”
  3. Paint the PICTURE (deliver) 
    • “the picture you paint and how it connects emotionally” 
  4. Seal of APPROVAL – (complete)
    • “take them through the first step of signing up for the triathlon”

I always focus on building an emotional connection, painting a picture of enjoyment, reaffirming the positive emotions, reducing any perceived barriers and showing them that you care.

Remember to “never ask a question, you don’t wont an answer to”. This will leave you with your back up against the wall as you have placed a mental barrier in front of the person you are speaking with.

An example is asking an unfit person who doesn’t lead a healthy lifestyle, “Do you think triathlon is difficult and for the super fit person?”. The answer is 99 times out of 100 going to be “Yes”. You have already painted a negative image in their mind and you will find it very difficult to delete that image and replace it with a positive triathlon experience that entices them to want to sign up for a triathlon and complete a race.

How are you going to approach your next conversation to ensure that you increase your chances of making that important sale?


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Are you looking for more insights and ideas? Then read the following inspiring and thought-provoking articles by Craig Johns:

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