Using the 7 basic human emotions in your sales funnel: Sadness

There are 7 basic human emotions: Anger, Fear, Disgust, Contempt, Joy, Sadness, Surprise.

These are root emotions from which all other emotions spring. (Read more about them here). These 7 emotions are at the core of what drives our decision-making.

If you understand these emotions and build your sales funnel around them, you can sell more.


It’s amazing how many of the 7 basic human emotions are negative. And yet, we can still use them in our sales funnels. Sadness is one of those basic emotions and even though you don’t see it a lot in sales funnels, it is present.

I should make a disclaimer here: Selling with sadness seems callous and I don’t mean to come across that way. But there ARE situations when it is necessary to sell in a sad situation. For example, a funeral home or a fundraising campaign for a catastrophe are both selling into sadness. There’s nothing wrong with it as long as it is done ethically and sensitively and responsibly.

So, how do you sell into a sad situation? Well the first thing you need to do is highlight the emotional connection between the buyer and the victim. It might be a family connection or it might be something broader (such as: We’re all humans and are saddened to think that someone else is facing such difficulty).

In situations where it is a widespread problem, the story needs to be humanized to help establish that emotional connection. That’s what those late night World Vision commercials do: They introduce you to one child and that child stands in as a surrogate for all starving children and helps to build that emotional connection much more effectively. (It’s hard to sell into sadness when there is no human connection).

You also need to keep in mind the benefits when selling into sadness: The purchase/contribution is not going to bring happiness or even necessarily peace-of-mind to the buyer. Don’t promise that! Rather, the buyer’s benefit is a sense of relief at having made an appropriate response.

The biggest risk in selling into sadness is using guilt and it is a very fine line between appropriately selling with sadness and laying on a heavy dose of guilt. I think the difference is this: Appropriate selling into sadness says “If you contribute, you’ll help” while inappropriate selling with guilt says “If you DON’T contribute, you’ll hurt.” That’s a hard line to walk and your sales and marketing copy will need to need to be closely reviewed for guilty selling.

There are many occasions when selling into sadness is okay. When done appropriately, it’s an easy sell because people are driven by a human connection to help each other. But it’s an emotionally draining effort and it’s one that is fraught with pitfalls for the seller.

Great resource for financial advisors: 101 Success Tips and Strategies for Financial Advisors by Rosemary Smyth

From time to time I review helpful resources for my readers — basically the stuff that I put on my bookshelf or in my list of bookmarks; the resources I would use to rebuild my business if it ever burned to the ground.

(Note: These are NOT paid endorsements. I don’t receive any financial incentive or affiliate income for doing these).

Just last night I finished reading 101 Success Tips and Strategies for Financial Advisors by Rosemary Smyth.

Rosemary is a well-qualified coach who works with professionals in the finance sector. (We originally connected through Twitter — follow her at @RosemarySmyth.)

101 Success Tips and Strategies for Financial Advisors is an easy-to-read book of ideas and insights written for financial advisors to guide them through specific situations and challenges that they will face throughout their career.

Her book starts at the very beginning of a financial advisor’s career with tips on completing your designation and writing a business plan and getting a mentor. Then, following the typical career path of a financial advisor (from rookie to advisor then senior advisor then manager) she provides an enormous volume of ideas for just about anything a financial advisor would face.

I said the book is easy to read but don’t let that mislead you. Rosemary has jam-packed ideas and advice into this book that you WILL use every single day of your career. It’s 101 chapters of solid content in a 116 page resource.

It’s one of those books you can read cover to cover to get a bunch of good ideas or you can dip into one or two relevant chapters when you encounter a specific situation in your financial advisory practice.

Waaaay back when I was starting out as a financial advisor, I would have bookmarked and highlighted several chapters, especially “Five Ways to Build a Referral Network with Centres of Influence” and “Ten Tips for Better Networking”.

And even though I’m no longer a financial advisor, I’m still closely connected to the finance industry and found other chapters helpful in my business today, such as: “Three Tips for Telling Successful Stories”, “Five Steps to Find Balance at Work” and “Top Five Attributes of High-Performing Advisors”.

Here are some other favorite chapters (which made me think of specific advisors or times in my own career when this information would have been particularly useful):

  • Three Steps to Segmenting Your Clients
  • Five Criteria for Buying a Book of Business
  • Ten Tips When Receiving Feedback
  • Top Five Exit Interview Questions
  • Four Tips When Supporting Charitable Events
  • Tips for Transition Planning
  • Ten Items to Consider When Choosing Your Business Partner
  • Five Tips for a Better Advisor-Assistant Relationship
  • Five Tips to Do Less and Accomplish More

The price is ridiculously low for the value of the content. You can read one chapter, put it into practice, and earn back in less than an hour. I’m not joking.

Get the book. Read it. Read it again. Use it to grow your financial practice…

101 Tips and Strategies for Financial Advisors by Rosemary Smyth

Ideas and opportunities in the location-based social media space

Earlier this week I was writing an article about real estate investing and the value of using location-based search and location-based social media for real estate investors.

As I was clicking around to link to relevant sites, I noticed something quite interesting: On the location-based social media side, only Foursquare survives as a strictly location-based social media. Two other sites — Gowalla and Loopt — both shut down in 2012:

In very short order, the race changed. There is a a big marathon of location-based social media and Foursquare, Gowalla, and Loopt were far ahead of the rest, with sites like Facebook and Twitter also offering some aspect of location-based social media as well.

But now Gowalla and Loopt are gone and Foursquare remains as the only real pure-play contender against “consolidated” social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. (And the other location-based social media sites are so far behind right now that they don’t really count).

One pure-play social media site that owns the industry right now. That’s a HUGE opportunity. So what’s going to happen next? All the elements are in place for new competitors to step up and do something exciting in the location-based social media space: Social media is hot, gamification is hot, EVERYONE has a smartphone now and that is driving change in mobile search and mobile marketing.

So I think the location-based social media space is ripe for MORE competitors not fewer.


  1. Facebook has an opportunity to dominate this space by taking its geotagging up a level, perhaps by combining some of the concepts that Foursquare uses — like recommendations and lists based around the places you are visiting.
  2. Twitter has an opportunity to do what Facebook decided not to do — buy a location-based social media site and integrate it. Maybe people can tweet to check-in at locations, and businesses that are ‘registered’ with the location-based side of Twitter can auto-DM deals to the people who have checked in. (Hello! Possible revenue stream, Twitter).
  3. It seems to me like Groupon also has an opportunity to extend its reach by offering daily deals to people based on where they are. Groupon can offer more deals and customers who are at a specific location can take advantage of specific relevant deals rather than relying solely on whatever deals are offered that day.
  4. Yelp has a similar opportunity as Groupon to invest in a location-based social media site to leverage its database of reviews.
  5. What about a time management system that uses location based social media to prompt you to do stuff? (“Hey, you’re at work: Here’s a list of the things you need to do”). Foursquare does this to some degree but it’s not really that cool to check in at work or at home so you miss out on an opportunity to use lists in a meaningful way (and Foursquare’s list system is rudimentary to the point of barely being useful, IMO).
  6. Foursquare encourages check-ins and makes it possible for people to see who else is there but it’s not a communication tool like Twitter or Facebook. (You check in on Foursquare and then you text with the people who are there). So there’s an opportunity for existing communication platforms (Facebook and Twitter were mentioned but also texting platforms/smartphones/BBM/etc.) to leverage the location-based aspect to strengthen their service.
  7. There’s an opportunity here for the next big location-based social media to own whatever happens after check-in. Ordering? Shopping? Exploring? Working? Socializing? Oh, that reminds me of another idea…
  8. Paying. Location-based social media does not need to always be about checking-in. (Yeah, that’s a nice thing but there’s more). Mobile payments are on the horizon and this is an opportunity to help make that happen. So an opportunity to innovate in the location-based social media space might not be to create a new social media site but to find a way to safely integrate mobile payments into a location-based social media so that people who are all together in one place can all spend money at the same time. No, that’s not as weird as it sounds: People split the bills at restaurants all the time; churches take up offering and don’t always need to pass around a plate anymore; timeshares use a group-selling method; seminars can leverage the mass-buying phenomenon to encourage everyone to check-in and buy the “back-of-house” sale, musicians can offer special deals to people who are checked-in at a concert, etc.

When there’s only one pure-play company that is the clear forerunner in an industry, they have a huge target painted on their backs. And, from what I’ve observed, the risk isn’t from businesses that are doing similar things and are farther back in the race. Rather, the risk to those forerunners is from innovators who join the race late and do something surprising and different.

Watch out, Foursquare! Your competition may have disappeared for now but soon you’ll discover some new competitors and they WON’T be the ones you’re expecting.

Case study (part 2): Looking for opportunities in the sales funnel

In a previous blog post, I showed you how to draw your sales funnel. I showed you a fictional (but pretty typical) business and drew a sales funnel around it.

Opportunities in the sales funnel

Over a few blog posts, I’m going to show you how you can examine the sales funnel you’ve drawn to find new opportunities to run a more successful, profitable business.

One way you can optimize your sales funnel is:

Reduce the number of steps in the sales funnel

Although there is a limit to how fast people will move through your sales funnel, there are ways you can speed up your sales funnel by reducing the number of steps in it.

The sales funnel (above) we’ve drawn for the case study is already pretty minimal (many businesses have much more complicated sales funnels than this!). There aren’t a lot of steps that move people from one stage to another but there ARE things we can do.

One opportunity to streamline this sales funnel is to stop splitting traffic between the homepage and the landing page. Since the landing page is the page that sells the ebook, and (presumably) ebook revenue is a key way for this business to make money, there is a risk that only a portion of potential ebook buyers are actually getting to the landing page. The ones who are sent to the landing page from articles get there (obviously) but other marketing efforts are sending potential ebook customers to the main page where they have to navigate to the landing page.

So two solutions to this problem are:

  1. Sending more people to the ebook landing page instead of the homepage
  2. Moving the ebook sales letter to the homepage

The other opportunity to reduce the number of steps in the sales funnel is on the right-hand side: Face-to-face marketing at the Chamber of Commerce leads to a contact (email or phone) and then signing a contract. But this can be improved further to save the business owner time and freeing up to allow more marketing and delivery.

A couple of solutions include:

  1. Automating the contact stage with a website that answers questions and provides a downloadable contract to sign
  2. Outsourcing the contact stage for 24/7 coverage
  3. Stop sending people to the website

Neither of these ideas might seem like much but even a slight increase sales funnel speed can increase your business by moving more people through, faster. (Plus, a streamlined sales funnel frees up more of your time to focus on other things).

Stay tuned. There are many more opportunities we can derive from this sales funnel.

A guide to joint ventures for entrepreneurs

Joint ventures (JVs) are projects where two or more people/businesses collaborate to make them successful.

They can really be anything — from co-authoring an ebook or co-hosting a seminar to starting a new website or business to collaborating on the development of an idea into a product… the list is endless, and only limited by your creativity.

Joint ventures are a great way to build new businesses or extend current brands and an easy way to fill in gaps that might exist with one entrepreneur’s skillset.


There was a time when I resisted doing joint ventures. I like running my own business and being my own boss and all that. But when I got to a point in my business where I had achieved the things I wanted to achieve and I was looking for the next mountain to climb, I realized I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed to work with other people.

Although I still run my own business on my own, I like joint ventures for a few reasons:

  • I subscribe the theory that 1+1=3. Two (or more) people who collaborate on a vision can actually turn a good idea into an amazing deliverable.
  • Joint venture partners have skin in the game and therefore they are more motivated to succeed than if one entrepreneur hired employees to do the work.
  • Joint venture partners give each other a good perspective and great networking opportunities.
  • Joint ventures are good for primary businesses or supporting/complementary brands.
  • Joint ventures take less time to achieve success, helping you to get a business up-and-running-and-profitable sooner.

(I’m sure there are other reasons for liking joint ventures but these are the things that attract me to them).

Since joint ventures can be an added aspect of your existing business (such as co-authoring a book), you can build your existing business with a joint venture; but joint ventures can also be a new and complementary brand or business, so you can grow revenue from a “non-primary” business to supplement your income.

If you are thinking about growing your business or income, consider a joint venture as a way to do it. You don’t have to JV your entire existing business by partnering 50/50 with what you’ve already built. Start small and JV on just one part of your business.


Before you approach someone about doing a joint venture, you need to decide a few things:

  • Think about what you want to do a joint venture in. (An existing business? A new business? A brand? Some other project?)
  • Decide what you want in a joint venture partner. Ideally, they share your vision and work ethic but provide a different skill-set that allows you to work together to complete the project.
  • Decide what you hope to get out of the joint venture. Money is often one of the bigger motivators but it’s not the only one. Maybe you want to extend your brand or get more people using your software or something. Knowing this up-front will help you figure out what to do and who to do it with.
  • Figure out how much time, money, and effort you are willing to invest in the joint venture. This is huge. I’ve seen a lot of joint ventures collapse because one or both parties miscalculated the commitment required.


In my opinion, the best joint venture partnerships are based on a pre-existing relationship. I’ve done JVs with people I didn’t know well and they still worked out (for the most part) but the most enriching and successful JVs were the result of a pre-existing relationship. I don’t mean that they were necessarily friends; but we knew each other — we met in a forum or via social media or they were a client.

Social media is a great way to find a JV partner. Twitter, LinkedIn, and a couple of forums I participate in have been the best tools for partnership discovery. Pick a couple of them, participate, and make your purposes known to others.

When you find a potential JV partner, float the idea past them about doing a joint venture. It might go nowhere but the two of you might click and excited collaborate.


As you work with your joint venture partner on start up your JV, here is a list of tips that I’d advise all joint venture partners to remember:

  • Keep an open mind. This is a JOINT venture. You might have the initial idea but the other person can bring valuable changes to the idea before the project starts.
  • Get creative. A JV doesn’t have to be one business partnering 50% with another business. Find some idea that you both work together on. Start small. Do several smaller JVs first before you take on anything too major.
  • Clearly outline the investment of time, money, and effort that each partner is committing to. Remember that there are often up-front AND ongoing costs associated with a joint venture and you should have a plan in place over what these are and when they are.
  • Understand how this project fits into each person’s business. If the JV is 100% of one person’s business and 10% of the other person’s business, the second JV partner might SEEM less interested or invested than the first one. This needs to be communicated and resolved before the project starts.
  • Plans are huge. Have a plan. For example, create a business plan for your business joint venture, and a marketing plan for your website joint venture, and a publishing timeline for your book or ebook joint venture. Plan in great detail.
  • Identify exit strategies. This is huge. Define success and failure and come up with exit strategies for each. Who will own what if the partnership collapses? What happens if one person moves on to other things? How are the rewards shared and when are they shared? What happens if the project becomes super-successful and more people (i.e. employees) need to be added to the mix?
  • Legal contracts are valuable but I confess that not all of my joint ventures have legal contracts. The bigger and more complicated ones do. I think legal contracts are valuable but this is also balanced against the cost and risk of the project itself.
  • Set up milestone checkpoints for the joint venture partners to pause from the busyness and evaluate how things are going. If both JV partners run other businesses (in my experience, that is frequently the case) then these milestone checkpoints are a good way for everyone to assess the project and get back on the path.

Joint ventures are awesome. They can help you grow your business or provide new streams of income. And they make sense as the next step in a business, especially for small businesses that are not yet ready to hire staff. If you want to grow your business in new and exciting ways this year, start up a joint venture.