Welcome back to another episode of the Healthpreneur Podcast! Today we’re switching gears a bit and honing in on a necessary part of business that makes some of us squirm…sales. Sylvia Flavela, Pilates practitioner and business coach to Pilates entrepreneurs, breaks down the key to sales success in any business. Spoiler alert: It’s all in your head.

From staying within the confines of our comfort zones, to fearing rejection, to lacking courage, the biggest reasons we don’t sell aren’t because our product sucks – it’s because, well, our mindset does. Luckily, that’s something we can fix. Sylvia drops some much-needed truth-bombs our way as she recalls experiences over the past decade and a half that have taught her the most effective sales techniques.

I believe any Healthpreneur can improve the way they do and think about sales. That’s why this episode will prove useful to anyone wanting to up their game. Tune in as Sylvia and I discuss what certifications don’t teach you, how to connect with clients so they’ll be in for the long haul, and why it’s so dang hard for us entrepreneurs to stay focused (squirrel!).

In this episode Sylvia and I discuss:

  • What Pilates studio and business owners need.
  • Getting out of our comfort zone.
  • Fear of rejection and the unknown.
  • Sales are important – whether you like it or not.
  • Why courage comes first.
  • Staying focused as an entrepreneur.


3:00 – 7:00 – Sylvia’s background and her entrepreneurial journey

7:00 – 11:30 – What certifications don’t teach you

11:30 – 17:00 – Effective sales techniques and the importance of courage

17:00 – 23:00 – Truly connecting with your clients and prospective clients by being you

23:00 – 29:30 – The struggle to stay focused and how to stay on track

29:30 – 32:00 – The Rapid Five


Hey guys, how’s it going? Welcome back to the show. Today we’re speaking with Sylvia Favela who is a Pilates practitioner and business coach to Pilates entrepreneurs.

She’s the founder and CEO of Pilates Biz Academy and the author of several online programs that have transformed the lives of thousands of customers around the world. I’m excited to have her on the show because I like bringing guests to you that are sometimes a bit out of the norm.

We have a variety of listeners from trainers to not-for-profit doctors to chiropractors. Some have their own practice online or offline. Some have their own courses online and are working with clients around the world. There’s all sorts of stuff.

I love highlighting new and exciting people. I’ve known Sylvia for several years, so she’s not new, but I expose new entrepreneurs in the sense of showing you what they’re doing and how you can extract some of the wisdom from their journey.

Sylvia helps Pilates studios become more successful. And whether you have a Pilates studio or not doesn’t matter, because we are going to be sharing one of the most important traits you can develop in your business if you want to be successful. It doesn’t matter if you have an offline clinic, a brick and mortar practice, if you’re coaching clients, or if you’re selling information, products or supplements.  This one secret we’re going to share with you that Sylvia has found to be the most impactful in her business will help you, too.

So, without any further ado, let’s welcome Sylvia Favela to the show. Sylvia, welcome to the Healthpreneur Podcast. How’s it going?

Sylvia:                   Doing great. Thank you for having me.

Yuri:                      You’re very welcome. We saw each other a little while ago at Craig Ballantyne‘s event in San Diego, and that was the first time we’d seen each other in years. It was nice to catch up in person briefly, and it’s nice to have you on the show to have a chance to get a little bit deeper. For the listeners who don’t know much about you, can you give everyone a better sense of what your business model looks like?


Sylvia’s background and her entrepreneurial journey

Sylvia:                   Of course. I’m in the Pilates industry. I started in the Pilates industry about a decade and a half ago.

I started building my own studios and having boutique and group-style studios, then moved on to having online programs and coaching. I saw that there was still, 10-15 years later, a missing gap in the industry: Pilates professionals are struggling to keep their businesses open and don’t know what to do with marketing and strategies.

So, it’s something that I’ve learned and I’ve put together different programs in mentorship for Pilates professionals. I’ve evolved from being in the trenches, with people, and guiding them, to where I am right now where I help professionals. I still do help my clients worldwide. I just provide great service and help people in general.

Yuri:                      That’s awesome. It’s so cool to see how many niches within the health space there are, right? It’s terrific. Most of us know that marketing is the weakest link in most people’s – especially in the health biz – businesses. What, in your experience, are the most common things you come up against with the business owners you help?


What certifications don’t teach you

Sylvia:                   They just don’t know. That’s what it is.

There are so many certifications nowadays for Pilates professionals. And there are so many franchises opening up for Pilates. Back when I started, back in 2003, 2004, none of that existed. There are certification programs, but nowhere does it show you how to get clients and create that like and trust factor. There’s nothing there.

When I talk to professionals, they love Pilates. They want to teach it. They have that passion and that enthusiasm to teach it; however, they just don’t how to get that client, pull them in, and take them from a prospect to an actual paying client on a monthly recurring plan.

That’s the struggle; just trying to teach them how to build your business. Having the passion is amazing, but if you don’t have that business sense or the marketing and strategies, that passion is going to get burnt out very quickly because you don’t have the knowledge and the know how to continue and stay in business for the long haul.

Yuri:                      Totally. We live in certification nation, I think, in the health and fitness space.

No offense to anyone who’s done certifications. I think it’s great to build up your skillset. But at some level, I don’t know if people are thinking that having more numbers or letters behind their name is somehow validating or will allow more people to find them magically. I’m not too sure.

My personal philosophy is if they spent as much time and money on learning how to market and grow their business as they did on the certifications, I don’t think I’d have a job, to be honest with you. Not that I have a job, but as much as probably exists.

Sylvia:                   Right. I think about that, too. Why is it that it’s so much easier for someone to go through a certification? Maybe they think, “I’m going to go through a Pilates back training for back and spine and articulation.” However, if you don’t know how to use that to add value and increase your membership base, then it’s broken.

Perhaps they’re thinking that it’s easier to just sit there through certification class and say, “Okay, I learned this,” rather than learning marketing and strategies, putting yourself out there, and doing sales. That’s intimidating. And that’s challenging and scary. Most people don’t like doing anything that’s out of their comfort zone, so I think that’s another reason why.

It’s like saying, “Okay, I’ll just do another certification,” because it makes you feel that you’ve done something to grow your business. It’s not because you stay within that comfort zone.


Effective sales techniques and the importance of courage

Yuri:                      Yeah, I agree. That’s a good point. For Pilates instructors or health business owners who have a fear of the word “no,” which is probably why a lot of people don’t like selling, what advice do you give them? What does that conversation look like?

Sylvia:                   When somebody is sitting in front of them and saying no, as a Pilates practitioner, it’s our duty to keep peeling back that onion. There’s a reason why they’re saying no. And if you haven’t dug deep enough then the answer’s always going to be no. It’s knowing that they’re there and they’re in front of you for a reason.

They need your service. Get used to the word no, because that’s an automatic. We’re wired to say no right away. So just expect that you’re going to get that no, and ask how to turn that into a yes because you know that they need your service. It’s having that mental rewiring and shift when you have that prospect sitting in front of you.

So, that’s how I guide them.

Yuri:                      What are some of the most common objections that a Pilates business owner might encounter if they’re trying to acquire new clients?

Sylvia:                   The cost. It’s, “Oh gosh, your rates are too expensive.”

Yuri:                      How do you help them overcome that? It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, that’s always going to be the number one objection.

Sylvia:                   That’s the number one challenge. I’d say, “Mrs. Jones, $350 a month is too much for you monthly. Let me ask you, what is it that you’re paying right now with your trips to Starbucks and eating out? How many days a week do you eat out?” It’s breaking it down in that sense to see where they’re at and how much their spending.

Some people come in for Pilates because their doctor told them to for an injury. Present that injury and ask, “How much is it costing you to be off work because you have this back issue?” Or, “Because you can’t go up and down the stairs?” Hit those pain points to see what it costs to not do something about it.

Yuri:                      Nice. So surfacing that pain and comparing it to stuff like apples to oranges. Like, “Hey, how much did you spend on your latest iPhone?”

Sylvia:                   Exactly.

Yuri:                      How’s that working for you?

Sylvia:                   Exactly. It’s in the reframing and positioning. And you want to listen. You want to listen to the prospect. That’s the one important thing that I tell all my coaching clients: to listen to what people are telling you because, you know, people tend to talk too much. And sometimes you talk yourself out of a sale because you don’t know when to zip it and just stay quiet.

Yuri:                      I think being able to master, let’s call it an enrollment conversation, is one of the most powerful skillsets anyone can develop because this applies to your kids.

Or enrolling someone in a bigger future for themselves and I think it’s a great personal development tool to overcome your own fears and ask better questions instead of speaking all the time. For anyone who’s out there just scared of selling, just do more of it. And do it with the right frameworks that can help you.

When you develop that confidence, it’s amazing what can happen. The way I look at it is that, if you have something that can transform a person’s life, it’s your duty to make them realize that. And if you’re not, you’re doing a massive disservice to them.


Sylvia:                   I couldn’t agree more. When I first started selling, oh God, it wasn’t normal for me. It was a scary thing to do. It was very scary, but the more I did it, the more I got comfortable with it. When you sit there in front of somebody or you’re talking to them over the phone, it’s that confidence when you know you can give the results they’re looking for – that transformation – because I know what my service can provide you.

Do more of what scares you. And I know that’s so cliché to say, it is. But the more you do it, you’re going to get better at it. Your confidence is going to go up. And it’s just like working out or when you’re eating better. Anything in life. And parenting too. I have a 14-year-old teenager now and I must be consistent and just listen. That is the biggest thing. Listening and not talking so much.

Yuri:                      Yeah, that’s great advice. I love how you talked about confidence, which is 100% true because you may think, “I need the confidence before I start selling,” but the only way to get confidence is to start selling and building the confidence.

Sylvia:                   Exactly. It’s funny because people try look and say, “Okay, what are the steps I need to do to build confidence?” You just need to do it.

You just need to do it. You just need to get out there. You just need to talk to people. Talk to a perfect stranger. If you’re having a coffee or are at the grocery store, just say, “Hi, how are you?” Just start talking to people and getting out of your comfort zone.

People that know me well know that I’m quiet. I’m a quiet person, but I will go out there, talk to you, and put myself in that environment. If not, I’m not doing anything to serve and help people transform their lives. Because I’m quiet, I must put myself in that position. I must get out of my own personal way so that I can help people.

Yuri:                      Yeah. One of the frameworks I learned from one of my coaches, Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach, is a very cool framework you can use with your clients. It’s the Four C’s: Commitment, courage, confidence, and capability.

Whether someone wants to lose weight or better their business, that’s the confidence and capability side. They’ve made the commitment to doing that. But what most people don’t realize is that they must go through courage. They must cross the bridge to get to the confidence. You can’t have confidence without having the courage to get there. It’s like saying, “I want to lose 20 pounds, but I don’t want to work out.” Well, good luck with that, right?

Sylvia:                   It’s so true. You must take that step and it’s a scary step. Just have the courage to say, “I can do this.”

You may fall flat on your face because it’s going to happen, but you get up and you just keep going. You just keep going and that’s the biggest thing. That’s one of the struggles when talking to Pilates professionals and studio owners. They had a bad day and lost two clients. Dust yourself off. You can do this. Just have that courage to get back up and keep going.

Yuri:                      Yeah, totally. Watch some Game of Thrones and remember, this father was beheaded, so we live in a pretty good time.


Truly connecting with your clients and prospective clients by being you

Sylvia:                   Exactly. And you know what, we live in a great time. When I first started my studio back in 2004, there wasn’t Instagram. Facebook was barely a thing. It was My Space and Google ads. We live in such a technological world where we can jump on Facebook, do a Facebook Live, and make that connection.

It’s a great world right now where we can connect with people. And that’s what people want; they want to connect with you as a person to do business with you.

Yuri:                      Absolutely. I want to bring up one of the things you mentioned a few minutes ago, which was that you have a service that can make a difference in someone’s life. And going back to having that confidence. What I’ve noticed is that if someone doesn’t have 100% delusional confidence that their thing will work for someone, they should look in the mirror and say, “How do I make this even better?”

Is this something you find with Pilates instructors where they’re lacking the certainty that their classes or approach will help their clients? Where do you find people stand on that?

Sylvia:                   They do get discouraged and they feel that they’re not good enough. They have self-doubt because they have a boutique studio or they’re teaching out of their home, and down the street a Pilates franchise opened.

They start to think, “How am I going to be better than them? How am I going to provide a better service than them?” And my response to them is, “Because it’s you and nobody can be you. You, your service which you provide in your connection to your client, that franchise down the street is not you. So, that is the difference.”

So, just be you and try not to be the people down the street. People will gravitate towards you and your message. So just stand in that message and be who you are while providing that service and people will come to you. I don’t like to say this, but don’t be fake. You’ll attract the people that resonate with you.

This is from my personal experience of trying different ways of marketing my business myself. When I came back to me being me, providing the service that I know, and the connection I make to my clients, my business just boomed.

In this world, everybody wants to be Instagram famous. There’s nothing wrong with that, but just be you. Pilates instructors got into Pilates because we love this method and we know what it can do. Everybody got into it for some reason; either they were ill or some way, somehow Pilates just resonated with them. I tell them, “Just keep doing that.”

Yuri:                      Awesome. So, if you started in a completely new market today, let’s say yoga, what’s the first thing you would do to grow your business?

Sylvia:                   Can I just say this one more thing? It’s funny because people in town say, “Well you have to love yoga.” Pilates does borrow a lot of the thoughts of yoga, but yoga for me is just a little slow.

It’s hard for me to slow down because my brain just goes 100 miles an hour. And I’m sure you can relate as an entrepreneur. It’s hard to quiet everything and focus on that one thing. But if I were to start in a brand-new space like yoga, the first thing I would do is provide value.

I’d go out there and provide a class or a session. I’d just be of service and give. Just give. That’s how I built my business; giving without expecting anything in return because I knew when I provided that value and gave them a great class, experience, and my all, they’d want to stay with me.

Yuri:                      Awesome. Good advice. Very selfish of you, but great advice.

Sylvia:                   I know. People would argue, “Sylvia, that’s probably not the way to go.” But that’s how I’ve built my businesses. The more value you give, the more you keep people for the long haul. I’ve had clients that have been with me for a decade for that reason.

Yuri:                      That’s wicked.

You mentioned that your mind races at 1,000 miles a minute because you’ve got all kinds of things going on. I think everyone listening can relate to that. It’s called being an entrepreneur. It’s funny because we just had a parent teacher meeting just yesterday with my son’s teacher. He’s in grade one.

His teacher was a little bit concerned because he can’t sit still and focus for a prolonged period. I told them, “Listen, he’s my son. I was the same way when I was his age and I think I turned out pretty well.” We tell our kids not to worry too much about fitting into the mold and fitting into the box. You can’t do that if that’s not your thing.

I think us creative types can resonate with that. How do you stay focused despite the tendency to want to do all sorts of different things?


The struggle to stay focused and how to stay on track

Sylvia:                   When I follow that little shiny object, something will happen and I will fall flat on my face until I get brought right back to my purpose. I learned that if I fall, if I get diverted to something else that’s not my calling or purpose, I get punched in the face.

I look at the top three things that I need to do for my business and I stay on track. I’ve done it multiple times and I don’t want to fall flat on my face anymore, so I stay on track and just keep with my purpose. As creative types, we have to keep going back to why are we doing what we’re doing, where we started, and why. We should stay within that.

It’s interesting that you said that about your son. My son is 14, a freshman in high school, and is so very opposite of me because he’s a golfer. He can zero in on what he needs to do and quiet his mind. And that’s why he loves going out on the golf course. It’s fascinating to me because I ask him, “How is it that you can hit that ball once, you go up, you’re on the fairway, and you can hit it again and not think about what you just did?” He responds, “I can do it because I know the shot I need to make and I just focus in on that.”

He quiets everything else. I’m amazed because I tell him I was not like that, especially in school. It was very hard for me to focus on one thing, and it’s interesting to be a parent of somebody who can zone in on one thing.

Yuri:                      Totally. That’s awesome.

If you’re speaking with a Pilates instructor, business owner, or anyone else in this space and they’re following a business model or track that they feel is right for them, but then they go on the internet and find the latest product launch going on, how do you advise that person to help them understand that the track they’re on is the right track versus jumping into something else?

Sylvia:                   It’s interesting that you said that because I had a conversation with one of my clients for that exact same thing. I told her not to reinvent the wheel and to follow what’s been done and proven.

There are so many things out there that are shiny and new that will deter you from your path and what you’re doing right now. I know what it is right now. It’s hard because you’re doing the things that aren’t glamorous like late hours and putting in work over the weekend. But you must get over those hurdles to get to where you want to be. Even if you’re looking at a brand-new product, you still must put in the work.

It may be great and nice and promise you rainbows and gold at the end, but you still must do that work. So just stay on course with what you’re doing. Do that and follow somebody who has done the work, been in the trenches, and done the trial and error, and just keep going through. You don’t want to start from the beginning because you veered off your path.

Yuri:                      That’s good advice. Sometimes, if I veer off into something new, I wonder if it’s entertaining or distracting. Is there an actual reason for what I’m doing? A lot of times I’m just bored.

A lot of times, I ask this out of habit: “What’s new and exciting?” Nothing really, it’s the same old, same old. That should be the right answer for most of us.

Sylvia:                   I was talking to Robby Blanchard and I said, “What’s new with you?” And it was the same thing; no drama, no nothing. It’s almost as if we look for chaos; like, “How can we disrupt what’s happening?”

We shouldn’t be looking for the chaos. We should just keep doing what we are doing because it’s working. That distraction soothes that, “What’s new?” But then, a day later, you realize, “I shouldn’t have done that. That just veered me off,” right?

Yuri:                      Totally. I just had this weird thing come into my mind. It’s like cheating on your spouse. It’s like, “Let’s go sleep around with all sorts of people because it’s fun and exciting,” maybe. And then you go back home and you’re like, “What the hell did I just do?”

 Sylvia:                   It’s that gratification in that moment, but for what?

It’s not worth it. It’s certainly not worth putting in the work for the long haul over that moment of gratification.

We could talk about this for a long time because it’s so easy to want to get distracted.


The Rapid Five

Yuri:                      Yup, absolutely. Sylvia, this has been good. Are you ready for the Rapid Five?

Sylvia:                   Go for it. I’m ready.

Yuri:                      Here we go. Number one is, what is your biggest weakness?

Sylvia:                   Getting out in front of people. It’s hard being in public.

Yuri:                      Sure. Number two, what is your biggest strength?

Sylvia:                   Building relationships. I’m very intuitive. I can build a relationship within five minutes with somebody.

Yuri:                      That’s awesome. Number three, what’s one skill you’ve become dangerously good at to grow your business?

Sylvia:                   Building deep relationships. Building strong relationships that I’ve grown over time by just giving.

 Yuri:                      I like that. Number four, what do you do first thing in the morning?

Sylvia:                   I write in a journal.

Yuri:                      Cool. Finally, complete this sentence: I know I’m being successful when…

Sylvia:                   I get messages from clients that I inspire them and that they want to have that courage.

Yuri:                      There you go. That’s great. Awesome stuff, Sylvia. Thank you so much for sharing that. This has been a lot of fun. It’s been a great conversation. Before we finish off, where is the best place for our listeners to find out what you’re up to and follow your work online?

Sylvia:                   Thank you. They can find me on Instagram @sylvialfit or they can find me at PilatesBizAcademy.com.

Yuri:                      Wicked. Sylvia, once again, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to be with us and share your candid lessons and acumen from what you’ve been doing over the past couple years. It was great to catch up and I want to acknowledge you for all the awesome work that you’re doing in the world for the clients you serve.

Thank you so much for showing up and just being awesome.

Sylvia:                   Thank you so much, Yuri. I appreciate you having me.

Yuri:                      Yup.


Yuri’s Take

Listeners, let me ask you this, are you afraid of sharing when you ask a perspective client to work with you? If you’re a human, you probably said yes. Listen, we all don’t like being rejected. Nobody does. But as we talked about in this episode and many episodes before this one, too, is that you must develop thick skin. You must understand that what you offer is going to transform your client or prospective client’s life.

If they don’t act and enroll, not only are you letting them down, but they are going to continue to suffer. It’s not about being pushy or salesy; I would rather you err on the side of being slightly more assertive than passive. And everyone has a different sales style. You don’t have to mimic how somebody else sells or enrolls people. You must find your own style and find what works for you.

Yes, there are frameworks that you should follow. We have a great framework for our calls that make them very service-oriented. If you haven’t experienced our resulted accelerated call, first and foremost, it’s to accelerate your business and learn how to attract more clients, convert them without being salesy, and deliver an amazing result. Be sure to book a call today.

If you’re serious about your business and you want to get faster results with more certainty, more clarity, and less frustration, this call will make a big difference for you. It’s totally free. It’s 45 minutes for you specifically. It’s not a sales pitch. It’s about helping you in your business. Book at healthpreneurgroup.com/book.

If you want us to help you deploy some of the stuff we talk about, we can certainly talk about that towards the end of the call, but there’s no high-pressure sales tactics here. Okay? The whole goal of the call is getting to the truth. The truth of what matters to you. And that’s the key.

Understand that selling is not evil. Selling is necessary. In this podcast, I am selling you. I’m selling an idea. I’m selling a philosophy. I’m selling something I want you to believe in. There’s a lot of undertones in this podcast selling the fact that yes, you can build a successful business and believe in yourself.

I’m selling you the fact that you must learn how to sell if you want to be successful in business. I’m selling you on the fact that you don’t have to sell information products and build out a huge content marketing platform to be successful in business.

I’m selling you on what I believe. So, understand that we’re always selling. We’re either selling ourselves, we’re selling an idea, or we’re selling a product or service for an outcome or result for the people we can serve. We must be okay with that. Firmly believe that what you are doing for people is worth it because if you don’t, you need to go back to the drawing board and sharpen the ax.

Bring what you bring to the marketplace with the conviction, certainty, and confidence that if someone works with you, their life will be transformed exponentially.

That’s the belief I have when we work with people in our health business accelerator workshop. It’s the belief I have when we work with people in our Luminaries Mastermind, and it’s not delusional. We’ve built the programs to produce results.

If you’re not confident in what you’re selling, you must make what you’re selling even better. Then, you need to build up your self-worth, your self-belief, and whatever else you need to do. Listen to Rocky music ahead of time. Get yourself in the right state and understand that it’s not about selling. It’s about serving. And the right people will step up and want to work with you at that point.

We spend a lot of time talking about this in our workshops because it’s very important. If you want to go deeper on this stuff, just book a call with us. We can help you through this process. Again, it’s healthpreneurgroup.com/book.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the interview. If you haven’t subscribed to the show, be sure to do so on iTunes. Give it a thumb up, and a review would be awesome. That is all for today. Thank you once again for being with me, and taking the time to give us your attention. I appreciate that.

Continue to go out there. Be yourself. Be awesome. Continue to be great, do great, and I’ll see you in our next episode.

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What You Missed

On our last episode, we had another game changing guest, Samantha Skelly.

Samantha created her business, Hungry for Happiness, after going through her own personal battle with food and self-image, and has since committed herself to revolutionizing the weight loss industry.

Tune in to hear how Samantha reaches for her own courage personally and in business, helps others do the same, and how she has stood for what she believes (and doesn’t!) to build her business and rock-solid tribe.