Influence and the Power of Persuasion: Part 3
6 lessons in being recognized as the world-class trainer you really are.


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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 2).

This video is about 7 minutes long.

To download an audio or a video version of this file, click here.
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Principle #4: Authority

Subconsciously, we all want to obey authority figures.

We’re taught from an early age to listen to our parents, to respect our elders, to obey the law, and to take our doctor’s advice.

Of course, advertisers use this principle when they make claims like: “4 out of 5 dentists approve” and “doctors’ #1 choice.”

They also use it when gathering testimonials, or featuring respected celebrities or experts in their advertisements.

To appeal to authority in your own business, think about which of your clients are respected professionals or members of the community.

Then ask to feature their testimonials (video or written) prominently at your facility or on your website

Also, when it comes to giving advice, appealing to authority can come in handy.

Instead of saying “You should eat more protein,” you might try saying “Dr. X, in a recent study, recommended eating more protein. Is that something you feel confident you can do?”

Finally, think about how your own communication can be more authoritative. (Note that we don’t say authoritarian.) Do you present yourself as a competent professional? Do your words, actions, self-presentation, and body language create trust in clients?

Do clients feel that you can help them?

How are you demonstrating… or not… your own authority?

Clients can smell inauthenticity and fear. However, they gravitate towards confidence, openness, and integrity.

So build those qualities into every client interaction.

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Principle #5: Friendship, affiliation, and liking

According to Cialdini, we tend to say yes to people we like.

Whether it’s their personality, whether it’s the way they look, or whether it’s the group they’re affiliated with. If we like someone, or something about him or her, we’re more likely to say yes to their offer.

In Influence, Cialdini uses the example of the Tupperware party. With the Tupperware system, the sales agent is a friend. And because the agent is a friend, sales are way better.

As mentioned earlier, social media – like Facebook – works similarly.

People hear about new Facebook pages from their friends.

And the closer someone is to a friend of yours, the more likely you are to “friend” them too.

As discussed earlier, a great strategy is to offer free workout nights, parties, or grocery tours where your clients invite a family member or friend.

By getting to know you in this way, you become the “friend of a friend” to prospective clients.

In addition, the more active you are in the community, the more people you get to know, and the more well-liked you can become, the more you’ll benefit from this principle.

Who would you rather work with: someone you know and like, or a complete stranger?

According to Cialdini, the liking principle also suggests that we tend to gravitate toward physically attractive people, powerful people, or celebrities. We see this everywhere from ads to movies.

Of course, as a fitness professional, you should do your best to look the part. But that’s not the point.

Rather, as discussed earlier, be sure to feature the testimonials and stories of clients who are most likely to attract attention to your business.

Principle #6: Scarcity

Scarcity – or the idea that your programs only have limited spots available and that the demand for these spots is high – can increase your perceived value and a prospective client’s desire to work with you.

Examples of scarcity are everywhere:

  • a long line outside the velvet rope in front of a popular club
  • a waiting list to sign up for an in-demand school
  • a radio ad for “only 10 left” of whatever’s being sold at the local Home Depot

We even react to this principle every day when we interrupt face-to-face conversations to answer our cell phones. Why do we do this? Because the phone call is scarce (now only!).

So, how can you use this principle in your business?

Why not create seasonal group programs that have limited availability? Only accept the first 25 registrants and if someone doesn’t sign up in time, they have to wait till next time.

Why not create applications and waiting lists for your products and services?

Instead of accepting all new clients, ask them to fill out an application for approval. Let them know that if they’re approved they’ll go on a waiting list and when the next available spot will come up.

Why not have limited enrollment/discount periods of a few days only, after which time people miss out on the deal (or the spot in your program)?

After all, your time is limited.

So why not structure your offers so that clients realize that?  Make this clear and clients will understand: While it’s your privilege and honor to work with them, it’s their privilege and honor to work with you.

Some perspective

You’re not a used car salesman or a casino owner. As a nutrition coach or personal trainer, your life is dedicated to teaching people to engage in healthier behaviors.

You help people. So, sure, you’re not “one of those” compliance professionals who uses these techniques to unload 1983 Hondas with broken brakes, or convince people to gamble all night.

But those shadier sellers still have important lessons to teach us. The same principles of behaviour and neurobiology apply — whether for good or ill.

Indeed, the food industry and big pharma have been using these principles against your clients for a long time.

Now your clients need a ninja on their side. Somebody to stand strong.

Somebody to help them replace their self-damaging fixed-action responses with positive, healthy habits. Somebody to help them find joy in movement and in delicious, fresh, whole foods.

And if it turns out you need to invoke certain evolutionarily-based cognitive templates in order to demolish other (more harmful) ones, then just think of yourself as a jiujitsu master.

Wrap-up and today’s takeaways

That’s it for part 3 of Influence: The Power of Persuasion for Fitness Pros.

Being a good trainer requires in-depth knowledge of the human body, exercise physiology, and nutritional science. However, none of these guarantee success in this field.

You also need to understand people. How they make decisions, how they make changes, and what attracts them to certain things over others.

Ultimately, your business relies on your ability to attract and help clients. The principles outlined here will help you improve at doing both.