How to get referrals as an online coach

Getting referrals as an online coach isn’t easy. It is possible. But it’s also not something you should build your business on.

People who started as offline coaches will often assume that they’ll be able to get referrals by word-of-mouth when they move online. If they’re good at what they do, chances are they’ve started out with a handful of clients from walking the gym floor. Those clients might have referred a friend, and before they know it they’ve got more enquiries than they know what to do with.

A photo of someone accessing online coaching from a laptop

And we’ve seen plenty of new online coaches placing too much weight on social media. They’ll use it as a way of ‘announcing’ or ‘launching’ their online programme and assume it will bring in their first handful of clients.

But relying on word-of-mouth and referrals as an online coach is likely to lead to frustration due to the reality not matching these expectations.

So, how can you work around this?

Lead Generation

What you should be focusing on is lead generation strategies and a proper sales system.

You need a consistent flow of new people into your business. And you need control over lead generation for a percentage of those people to become clients.

Once you have people signing up as clients, there are three things you can do to maximise the chances of getting referrals.

#1: Use simple, transparent pricing

If you’re doing things well, your product should do some of the marketing for itself. You’re better off spending two years building an amazing product than you are spending two months building a terrible one. If you put the time and effort into building something people enjoy, they’re far more likely to want to tell other people about it.

But for those who don’t know you or your service, the key is to have simple, transparent pricing. You should also be confident enough in the quality of your service to offer a no-minimum-period, cancel-anytime policy, at a price that people could justify every single month. This way, your clients are:

  • happier to give your service a go
  • more likely to stay for longer
  • more likely to refer you to their friends

#2: Have a proper sales mechanism

A diagram of the Propane sales sequence

The second step is to have a proper sales mechanism that handles all of the selling for you.

You need to make sure the pressure is off the client to answer any questions or respond to any doubts their friend might have about your service. All they have to do is give people your Instagram or website link, which will be set up in a way that gives potential clients all the answers they need.

But you can’t do this alone and rely on it to bring in sales.

You also need to have a good sales sequence.

Any content you create should be matched to someone’s level of awareness. So, if someone’s reading about you for the first time, make sure the message about what you do is clear and simple. Focus on the problem this audience is trying to address.

Once they’ve joined your mailing list and you’ve built trust, you can then start talking about how you can offer a solution to their problem. And why you’re the best person to do this.

Looking at what converts sales and how to replicate this will help you optimise your sales sequence so that it keeps getting better.

#3: Incentivise your clients

The third way to generate referral sales is to incentivise your clients to do it – for example, by giving your client a discount on their next service if they refer a friend. This can work really well, because it’s good for you and for the client.


There’s also the one-to-many option of a testimonial. You can generate testimonials by including them in your email automations and offering rewards or benefits to those who leave one. This doesn’t take much effort to do but they’re easy to gather and are a great way to promote your online business.

Affiliate programmes

If you’re considering an affiliate programme, make sure you give the person signing up some sort of benefit. Otherwise, there’s no incentive for them. And if they feel like they’re getting access to something exclusive, they’re more likely to want to tell their friends about it.

Some of the most powerful affiliate programmes are where you give someone a discount code. They get a kickback, the other person gets money off your service, and there’s no cost to you of acquiring the new client.

One piece of advice, if you’re considering an affiliate programme, is to only recommend products that you’d endorse and use yourself. If you’re selling something you don’t really believe in, your viewers can sense this. And this will lose you credibility.

Find out how we do it

Watch this video to find out more about our sales sequence at Propane:

If you’d like to take a behind-the-scenes look at Propane’s business model, you can visit this link.

Or, if you’re ready to speak to a member of the team about how we can help you grow your online business, you can book a call with us here.

free video guide: ⬇️

The EXACT process we used to build PropaneFitness to 15k/month: