Why are client referrals an unstoppable way of filling your appointment calendar?

How can we cold call clients without actually ‘cold calling’?

We discuss the effect of social proof, and how you can grow your client base with just two phone calls and one question.

Part 1 of the Ultimate Client Referral Strategy series

Falling under the word of mouth marketing umbrella in general, the client referral method is a way of getting the attention of new potential clients by utilising the relationships you have with your existing clients.

There are two very different type of client referrals – and you’ll be surprised which one is the most effective.


Types of Client Referral

Type 1 – Bring a Friend

A well-known strategy to attract clients when starting out as a PT is to run a ‘2 for the price of 1’ or ‘friends train free’ promotion.
This is a scenario where your 1-on-1 training sessions become a 2-on-1, allowing your client to split the cost of training with their friend.  You end up with the same amount of money in your pocket at the end of the session, but now have to divide your attention across two clients.


Having a ‘bring a buddy for free’ promotion will encourage those to bring new clients into your classes.
Another benefit is that it will also add an element of accountability for your current client, who feels they now can’t let down their friend by not turning up.

Gyms often tap into this marketing strategy too, some offer entire days of the week where you can bring a friend for free.  Some gyms go as far as offering 2-for-1 memberships during promotional periods to entice friends to sign up in pairs.

The final added bonus of this technique while you’re growing your business is that it will make your small group training (SGT) classes seem more popular.
Like a restaurant with lots of people sitting inside, those watching from the outside will wonder what the fuss is about!

  • No additional revenue – unless the friend signs up on their own
  • You’re spreading your attention across more clients for the same income
  • If clients split the cost of a PT session (in 2-on-1 training) and one doesn’t show up… do you get paid in full?

Type 2 – ‘Do you know anyone?’

Social Proof

Simply put:

Social Proof is giving attention to the things that our peers care about – purely because our peers care about them.

If lots of people (that we consider our peers) are talking about a new TV show – we will give it more attention than we normally would. Even if we’re not people who watch lots of TV.

If someone we respect ‘only uses ______ brand of _______’, then we are more likely to value that brand higher.


Client Referral Strategies – Social Proof Explains Celebrity Endorsements.

Nespresso, anyone?

The effect of Social Proof is so powerful, that it is the reason Facebook tells you which of your friends are interested in an event or like a product.
If you can see that one of your friends likes the page (eg: Corey Shakes and 4 other friends like PT Champion), you are more likely to pay attention to the ad than if that sentence wasn’t there.

How much attention you give is dependent on how much you like the person – if you’re great friends with Corey, you’re more likely to click on the post. This is why this client referral strategy is potentially unstoppable.

The reason for this is that we assume that our friend has already checked out the brand in question, and have worked out it is worth our attention. This is similar to how we are more likely to be open to a conversation with ‘friend of a friend’ that we meet a party, compared to a complete stranger.


Now knowing how effective social proof is, you should feel comfortable in calling a friend of your client directly.
This completely removes the feeling of a ‘cold call’ client referral enquiry, by making it warm the second you drop your friend’s name.

“Hey, this is Rob Di Toro from PT Champion here – I’m Corey Shakes’s Personal Trainer. They told me that you’re in the market for a PT, and that they think we’d be a good fit. Have you started training with a PT yet?”

By name dropping – particularly if Corey is a good friend of theirs – we can break through the barrier of a cold call.
Telling the potential client that their good friend said “that you should call them,” they will want at least pay attention to what you have to say.

They feel like their friend Corey has done a favour for them, and they should return the favour by (at least) hearing you out.

This strategy won’t be as quick as ‘2-for-1 training’ to get a new person standing in front of you, but two paying clients on the books are far better than training two clients who are only paying for one.
Not bad for a couple of phone calls and a few minutes of your time.


Happy Training.

Part 2: (exactly) How-To

Check out Part #2, we discuss the step-by-step HOW-TO of the Client Referral strategy.
Here’s how you can take it to the next level.


EDIT: This is now a Mini Course!

This series has been refined, updated, and turned into a mini-course.
You can join the Free Unstoppable Client Referral Strategy Mini-Course here:

Join the Free Client Referral Mini-Course