Spoiler alert: I’m a huge Peloton nerd. Huge. For the uninitiated, the Peloton Cycle is a way to stream spin classes to your connected Peloton bike (or BYOBike and use the app). Expect many posts with workout insights. Two years ago I was under tremendous stress at work and no life balance. It is not a way to live. The Peloton bike turned everything around. One of the underrated workout benefits is the boost it gives to the brain. A good workout can put me into a meditative zone that declutters thoughts while other parts of my brain fire up. A sweat session becomes a place to brew ideas. Hey, anything to keep the mind off screaming lungs or quads.
The other day I was spinning and the instructor (Alex Toussaint) was cueing 30-second intervals. Go hard. Pull back. Repeat. It sounds easy but around the 5th interval it was not cute. He looked into the camera and coached “Show up and show out”…and it worked. I heard all the challenges, praise and instructions he had given during the class and was doing a great job. He was doing a masterful job of asking X of me and then piling on Y. I dug deep and responded to live up to his asks. Would I be going hard on 30-second intervals if I didn’t have this instructor? No, I’m not that person. I started thinking about how masterful he was at asking me to make this effort while motivating every other participant at their varying degrees of fitness. I kept going, happily.
I also started thinking – how does he do that?
A spin class, like any meeting, is not cookie cutter. A phrase repeated over and over is effective but it can’t be rote or it will lose meaning. Instructors don’t coach from their perch, demanding output and yelling “Go, go, go”. He doesn’t assume riders showing up to class are simply going to obey. He doesn’t assume a rider won’t wonder why or how to execute the commands. The instructor engages the class and inspires them to reach for a successful outcome. His bag of tricks can be used when you’re leading a meeting or nurturing a sale.
Connect Targets to the Message
Every spin class (or sales call or training session, etc) has a message. One size does not fit all. Decide on a message based on desired outcome. Will your message be to beginners? To hill-climbing enthusiasts? To Latin, Hip-Hop accordion fans? A script has to be developed and/or adapted to the target audience. Nothing says “I don’t care about your needs” more than gathering your audience together and presenting material that does not interest or pertain to them. Latin, Hip-Hop Accordian fans won’t remember the great Metal playlist you crafted, they’ll simply remember you insulted their ears and tastes. Don’t leave a bad impression..
Athletes (and customers) want to tell you their stories and communicate their needs. They are taking valuable time to engage. They are signing on for assistance from an expert to reach their specific goals. Don’t take your users out of a receptive headspace by failing to align your message to the consumer. Connect to them by showing you are a trusted expert. Connect the idea that you care about their goals. Connect to their emotions and aspirations. Fire up their imagination and they will ride far with you.
Tailor The Message
In my spin class if an athlete has an injury a modifier should be presented. In business there may be special circumstances you need to address. Leverage your unique solutions and expertise to get them where they are going. A leader has a loose script and a branded message but athletes (or customers) won’t respond well to a one-size-fits all message. A successful sports trainer will deliver the critical motivation like “You can do it!”, “Don’t lose your form!” or “Don’t stop!” by feeling the pulse of the class and tweaking the words. Key triggers need to be repeated. A savvy leader will have multiple ways to say “Keep going” to offset overload. They will also get out of their own way and be silent in order to listen to the class and pick up on non-verbal cues. Be mindful that people are already doing you the courtesy of showing up. They’re already participating in what you have to pitch. Don’t throw it away.
In business you may need buy in from multiple decision makers who have varied backgrounds and scope of understanding. While you may feel comfortable diving into the weeds of the technical specs you risk losing the finance or sales leader by strictly tailoring a tech-centric message. A great conversation leader will know how to scale the message and deliver within a custom range that accommodates beginners and advanced. Challenge the sales guy to stretch their comfort zone and stay with the “boring specs”. Pump up the IT guru when discussing satisfaction. Encourage everyone to power through ROI and other financials. These minute adjustments go beyond your script while staying on brand. Drive the common goal and leave nobody behind.
Guide Audience to Process the Message
In spin class I can show up, clip in and go on autopilot. It works up a sweat and the duty is logged. Go, me! I could be in a class with the best trainer in the world but failed to get connected. It happens. Tomorrow is another day.
In a sales call a rep needs to seal the deal on the relationship to ensure the tomorrow will not be with a rival. In business meetings there are logistics and scheduling considerations that make it folly to drag users together and not drive purpose. A sales rep should have an agenda that is distributed to attendees to prep or a stated purpose at the beginning of their call. They should also demonstrate value, listen to stories and check in to confirm that the goals are being addressed. Progress should be mutually agreed upon and objections should be uncovered. Through the call or appointment they’ve taken the customer on a journey. Don’t make it a static journey to nowhere. Get the commitment for them to join the family. Especially in an SaaS play it is vital to showcase the call or meeting as a valuable, repeatable experience. Convey to the client that their health and this partnership is as important to you as it is to them.
Take a pulse check and address any unmet needs, unanswered questions or points of confusion. With their imagination fired up they can process the message you delivered and be positioned to process your ask.
Back to the Peloton class. I lived through the next 10 intervals and didn’t die. It left me feeling fantastic and I know I will be back to that instructor’s class. There’s a relationship there and I appreciate the care he takes to foster my success. This can be replicated.
- Engage your target
- Tailor your talk points
- Steer the conversation like a boss