Tim Bainton and Alex Planes

Some fitness entrepreneurs and coaches seem to have it all figured out.

Their business is thriving, their book of business is packed, and the community is buzzing about their talent and expertise.

It’s not necessarily because they really are the best in the world at what they do. There are probably thousands of wonderfully talented and highly experienced fitness pros who could help clients just as well as these fully-booked superstars. And yet those thousands of pros don’t have packed schedules and swelling bank accounts. What gives?

The difference is all in the pitch.

Always be pitching

At a fundamental level, a “pitch” is just an effort to close a deal. It could be a pitch to investors, where the deal is more funding for the business.

Most often, a pitch is a prelude to a sale, and a great pitch can dramatically improve your chances of closing a sale. The definition of a great sales pitch has changed over time as buying preferences and consumer tastes have evolved, but many elements of great pitches have remained consistent for decades or centuries.

Some people respond well to data and factual arguments, but the majority of your audience is likely to respond most strongly to emotional appeals. To pitch them on your service or company, you have to find the right emotional touchpoints that can compel them to act. Why should they pay for your services or invest in your business? What’s the downside to their inaction — that is, what will they miss out on if they don’t use your services or invest in you? A successful pitch finds answers to these questions, even if the prospect isn’t looking for those answers on their own.

Know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em

There might be any number of answers to those two questions, but as you become more adept at pitching a particular audience, you’re likely to find common responses coming up time after time. This can help you better target your pitch and improve your delivery. As you gain a better understanding of your audience, you’ll be better able to correctly assess their emotional triggers, and you’ll also be better able to respond to common objections that are bound to arise during the pitching process.

One of the best ways to master your pitch is simply to practice pitching all the time. There’s an opportunity to pitch your services every time you meet someone new. After all, everyone could use better health, right? But there’s a fine line between a good pitch and an unwanted intrusion into a stranger’s day. Successful pitching requires more than an understanding of emotional triggers and how to address them. If you aren’t emotionally receptive and empathetic enough to read your audience’s emotions, you’ll have a far harder time closing them on your offer. Being emotionally receptive and empathetic are key traits for successful coaches and fitness trainers, so it’s undoubtedly important to develop these traits if you want to build a rewarding career in the fitness industry.

Tools of the pitch

The tools and methods you use for your pitch will vary widely based on what you’re offering, who you’re offering it to, and even why you’re offering it to that particular audience. You might start with an email, or a Facebook post, or a pamphlet, or a business card. You might finish your pitch on the court, in the weight room, or on a conference call.

Your understanding of which tool to use at any given point during a particular pitch will grow with experience, but you should initially focus on a smaller number of tools and methods before branching out. In today’s sales environment, it pays to be a master of a few trades rather than a jack of all trades.

By the time you’ve mastered your pitch, you should be ready to start mastering the operational and marketing skills we describe in the next article of this series.