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Influence and the Power of Persuasion: Part 2
6 lessons in being recognized as the world-class trainer you really are.


I work with trainers, strength coaches, and rehab specialists all over the world.

Often these fitness pros are frustrated. They have degrees, training certifications, and continuing education.

Despite all that education, experience, and impressive expertise, these pros still aren’t standing out. Their phones don’t ring off the hook. Their appointment book has empty slots. Clients aren’t singing their praises to family, friends, or acquaintances.

What’s the problem?

Well, by focusing all their energy on the training and physiology parts of their work, they’re ignoring the psychology parts. And those make all the difference.

That’s why, in this video series, we’ll share the 6 key psychological principles of influence and persuasion.

Put them to work in your business and you can expect:

  • more new clients,
  • better client retention,
  • more referral business, and
  • better client results.

To learn more, click the play button below.  (Or click here for part 1 or part 3).

This video is about 8 minutes long.

To download an audio or a video version of this file, click here.
Please be patient as downloads may take a few minutes.

Principle #1: Reciprocity

When someone gives us a gift or does us a favor, we try to repay them. In other words, we reciprocate.

This “web of gratitude” is found everywhere, across all cultures. It’s valuable social currency. It allows us to share resources and, generally, get along.

We usually view those who don’t reciprocate as uncooperative and ungrateful.

In Influence, Cialdini uses an interesting example from world affairs: Despite suffering from a crippling famine in the 1980s, Ethiopia sent $5,000 in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after an earthquake in 1985.

Wait… Ethiopia offering aid?

Yep. Mexico helped Ethiopia out during the 1935 Italian invasion. So it was payback time, despite Ethiopia’s hardships. This is reciprocity in action.

So how does this relate to your business?

Well, if you’d like to enjoy the benefits of reciprocity, consider doing what Mexico did in 1935. (No, you don’t have to send aid to Ethiopia.)

Help your prospective clients. Give them something cool. Yes, give. Like, for free.

For example: Offer free (or very low cost) community educational seminars, grocery store tours, group workout sessions, and more.

Offer this high quality stuff at no cost and they’re more likely to sign up to train with you. Or to refer their friends. Reciprocity will kick in.

But remember, this isn’t just for prospective clients.

Why not offer cool stuff to current clients too? Throw parties, give gift certificates, hand out team t-shirts, spotlight your clients within your community. You have tons of potential “reasons” to do it: when clients reach their goals, after they’ve stuck with you for X months/years, and/or when they’ve referred other clients.

Create a strong bond — through reciprocity — with the clients you already have. And the clients you could have.

It’s a simple principle, like the Golden Rule: Do awesome stuff for others and they’ll be more likely to do awesome stuff for you.

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Principle #2: Consistency and congruency

It’s human nature to want to be consistent.

When we say we’ll do something, we don’t want to look like we didn’t follow through. And when we actually do something, we want to take consistent action in the future so it doesn’t look like we made a mistake.

We want to be (or at least feel) congruent with our own self-image.

Generally, people more often follow through with publicly announced goals vs. private ones.

Why? Consistency and congruency.

They feel compelled to do what they said they would.

Here’s an underhanded way this principle is exploited in car sales: once the salesperson and customer agree on a price, the salesperson usually disappears to “check with their manager.”

What’s up with that? Well, once we’ve already agreed to buy, the salesperson knows that we’ll be more likely to buy even if they come back with a last-minute counteroffer that’s $500 higher.

This principle is also used in membership sales.

Instead of asking: “Do you want to sign up?” a salesperson will ask something like “Between the annual option and the monthly option, which is best for you?”

Of course, either response is a decision to sign up. When it’s time to ask for the sale, the salesperson will expect consistency.

Thus, ask prospective or current clients to make early commitments, such as:

  • showing up for an information session;
  • following through with appointments; and/or
  • complying with nutrition and exercise habits.

Early commitments make a big difference.

One great strategy here is the pre-sale, pre-registration, or VIP waiting list.

By asking potential clients to put their name on a free waiting list – for a product, service, or even a free class – they’re making a small early commitment.

And then, when it’s time to show up (or sign up), they’ll be more likely to follow through.

Here’s another strategy: Do you want clients to say good things about you in the community?

If so, start collecting written or recorded testimonials in person.

Of course, you can use these to help sell your services to prospective clients.

However, this serves another goal: In an effort to be consistent, your clients are now primed to go out and talk about you to their friends and family.  And that means more referral business for you.

Principle #3: Social proof

In my opinion, this is one of the most powerful principles of persuasion.

Nowadays, we’re surrounded by choice. The sheer number of options is staggering. Paralyzing, even. So, how do we decide things?

We look around to see what other people are doing.

If something seems popular or well-liked – as judged by the number of 5/5 ratings on Amazon, the number of likes of Facebook, or the number of positive reviews by critics – we assume it’s good.

The opposite?  Well, we assume it’s crap.

You can even see this principle in small daily activities.

Change lanes on the highway and drivers behind you will do the same. See someone in church slip $5 into the collection plate and others start reaching for their wallet too.

Whether we like it or not, our own choices are powerfully shaped by the choices of our peers. In the fitness world, the power of social proof is tremendous.

You look great! Where are you working out?

Oh, I go to Trainer X at Gym Y. He’s a miracle worker. And he fixed my back too!

Wow. Give me his number.

And so on.

To demonstrate social proof, I always recommend fitness pros create “success books”. Like the online collages we create at Precision Nutrition for our muscle-building and fat loss coaching programs.

Using an online custom book publishing service (like, you can print beautiful, professional (inexpensive) books that show off the types of results your clients have achieved.

Fill these books with before/after photos, client stories, case studies, measurement data, and whatever else will show how awesome your results are.

Group the photos by gender and age. There’s nothing more powerful than sitting in front of a potential client and showing them the amazing results you’re able to achieve with people just like them.

Here’s another idea: Offer group training sessions where current clients are invited to bring a friend or family member. When the prospective client sees people having fun and getting results, the social proof will be strong.

Of course, if you do online coaching, you can also use Facebook, Twitter, and enable comments on your blog/articles.

However, if you use these tools, be sure to ask for likes and comments. This demonstrates social proof. It means your information is popular, high quality, and worth listening to.

On the other hand, if your pages look barren and unliked, these strategies can backfire.

Wrap-up and today’s takeaways

That’s it for part 2 of Influence: The Power of Persuasion for Fitness Pros.

For now, here are some key points.

  • Enjoy the benefits of reciprocity by doing cool things for clients.
  • Ask for consistency and congruency by asking for early commitment.
  • Demonstrate your expertise by encouraging and sharing social proof.

For Cialdini’s remaning principles of persuasion, check out part 3 of this video series.