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:

Unleash the Niche

By Craig Johns

What can your members not do without?

No organisation can be everything to everyone, no matter how big or small. Being able to narrow the focus of your target market, known as creating a ‘niche’, is key to success. By understanding what your consumers can’t do without and servicing that requirement, you will be a step ahead of the competition.

What is your place in the industry?

Niches do not exist, but are created by identifying needs, wants and requirements that are limited in the marketplace, and can be satisfied by developing, delivering and implementing products, programs and services that satisfy them. Having a strong identity and a clear understanding of who you are to the consumers, is very important.

What is your market?

Knowing what market you providing for allows you to specifically tailor content and services that connect with your consumers. People like to have exclusivity and know they are receiving special service. They want to feel cared about and being able to specifically make a connection with them should be a priority. If you don’t know whom you want to do business with, you can’t make contact.

What makes it different?

Do you know why your market stands out from the rest and what are the behavioural characteristics of your consumers? Understanding what makes it different allows you to create a stronger brand and identity to ensure you recruit and retain your consumers effectively.

Steps to success

  1. Create a list of who you want to attract and work with.
  2. Focus on what products, programs and services you are going to provide, based on your skill-sets, achievements, lessons learnt and style.
  3. Determine how your consumers see, understand and interact with their world.
  4. Synthesize your niche through ensuring it fits your long-term vision, it is desirable to your consumers, it is carefully planned, it’s one of a kind and has evolutionary elements
  5. Look at whether you niche meets the criteria of all aspects in step four and evaluate its viability.
  6. The one step that is most often forgotten or misunderstood is testing the niche with the market.
  7. Unleash the niche, into the market place.

 The Pressure Test

Once you have effectively implemented your niche and established your identity it’s important to regularly check its relevance in the marketplace. By asking key questions, you will be able to do a temperature test on whether it’s still ‘hot property’ or not.

  • Are your target consumers who you thought they were?
  • Do you stand up to the pressure test with your consumers?
  • Is it constantly evolving and moving ahead of the competition?
  • Are you offering what the consumers really want?
  • Do you have a connection, passion and focused energy with regards your niche?

Be one step ahead!

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

Enhance the Experience

Membership - Experience

By Craig Johns

Are organisations actually making a difference to their members?

Organisations flourish by adequately resourcing their activities to meet member requirements. However, they often make decisions based on on how membership will benefit the organisation, rather than focusing on the actual member/s. They focus on aspects such as how many members should they target, what benefits they can leverage off their partners to provide to members and how much they should increase the membership fees.

But is that really what organisations should be focusing on?

Achieving organisational success is dependent on two key things:

  1. effectively resourcing its activities, and
  2. providing something to a member that makes a difference to their lives

Now, if organisational success is based on resources and members, then every new decision, policy, change, program and service must consider the effect on both aspects.

Are resources or members the most important consideration?

The answer is simple. Without members, there is no organisation! If the organisation doesn’t provide relevance or value to a person, they are highly unlikely to become or remain a member.

So how can organisations ensure that members are front and centre on every decision made?

Developing a key focal point based on the members, which every decision and every change is challenged against, is critical in achieving organisation success. If the decision or change doesn’t positively effect the key focal point, then the organisation should reconsider what they are about to implement.

A focal point that I commonly use with organisations is:


Let’s use tennis as an example. Anyone can play tennis as long as they have a racquet, ball and either a wall or someone to play against. To enhance their experience they would need to subscribe, create or join a learning platform, group, club, program and/or organisation. They may consider joining a tennis club or group to receive coaching, to socialise with like minded people, and to have opportunities to play and compete against other tennis players. They might subscribe to an online tennis magazine. They could join a state/regional or national tennis organisation.

The person interested in tennis will assess whether joining will enhance their experience by helping them learn more, improve their performance, meet and play other people, provide access to courts, make it more enjoyable, etc… before signing up. If the learning platform, group, club, program and/or organisation doesn’t enhance their experience, they are unlikely to join or retain their membership.

It is therefore vitally important that every decision is cross-checked with “does it enhance the experience of the players” first, before checking whether the organisation has the resource capability to manage, deliver or support it effectively.

You might be asking “What key elements are required to ensure that membership provides value and relevance?”

Current and potential members like to (some or all of the follow):

  • belong and feel part of a community
  • share knowledge and experiences
  • learn and understand
  • improve and achieve
  • support and feel like someone cares
  • have access and opportunities

MaccaX provide a great introductory video that clearly shows their relevance and value to their members.

Online Triathlon Training Plans from MaccaX on Vimeo.


What is your organisation going to base its decisions on?