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

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.

HOW TO USE SURPRISE IN YOUR SALES FUNNEL

I really like that surprise is one of the 7 basic human emotions. It’s so effective when used in the sales funnel. Ironically, it’s not used often enough.

There are two ways that sales funnels can use surprise and both of these ways can have a very positive or very negative result.

Surprise in marketing: When businesses use surprise in marketing, they capture the fleeting, hard-to-get attention of their target audience. Used well, surprise can rivet the attention of an audience member so they stay engaged throughout the entire marketing message.

This truth in marketing was highlighted for me when I got my PVR. I would watch my shows and just fast-forward through the commercials. But sometimes a commercial (even at a high speed) will appear funny and shocking — surprising! — and I’ll stop and watch the commercial.

Unfortunately, surprise is so rare in marketing. Too often, marketing might start out as a great idea but it is pushed through various corporate departments — each with competing agendas — and what comes out on the other side is a mediocre result.

Surprise in sales: This is another area that has huge opportunity for many businesses but they fall short. When selling, businesses barely live up to expectations. They promise all kinds of things when selling and then meet (or almost meet) those expectations. Consumers are left feeling like they got what they paid for… and nothing else. Is it any wonder that businesses can’t figure out why consumers aren’t “extremely satisfied” when polled?

When I bought my furnace/air-conditioner, I was promised all kinds of things. When the company delivered and installed it, the installers told me that what was promised during the sale couldn’t be done because the salesperson wasn’t an installer and wasn’t aware of the peculiarities of my house. We got the issue resolved after A LOT of frustrating negotiation (and after I contacted the consumer affairs ombudsman). And then I pay every year for a 5 minute inspection. Ultimately, I got what I was promised, but nothing more. So, I’ve never recommended their service to anyone else.

On the other hand, they could have surprised me by delivering what they promised… and more. Even with a little extra courteous service and some proactive follow-up.

Consumers who are surprised by the value of their purchase and the company that sold it to them creates a wow factor that people will remember and return to again and again.

If you want to surprise people in your sales funnel, surprise them in your marketing with clever, unexpected, daring, push-the-envelope marketing that they aren’t expecting. And, surprise them in your sales by delivering more than you promised and providing higher value than they were expecting.

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.

HOW TO USE SADNESS IN YOUR SALES FUNNEL

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.

Using The 7 Basic Human Emotions in Your Sales Funnel: Joy

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.

HOW TO USE JOY IN YOUR SALES FUNNEL

Weirdly, joy is the only fully positive emotion of the 7 emotions. (Surprise could be positive but it could also be negative; the rest are negative emotions).

Joy is easily the most popular emotion that sales funnels sell to. Different sales funnels will call it different things (depending on what you’re selling) but it boils down to joy. Some sales funnels will explicitly call it happiness or peace of mind, and some sales funnels will implicitly sell to joy by selling about some of the things people think positively about — success, wealth, health, etc. So if you are a real estate professional and you are selling a couple on why they should hire you to list their home, you are selling the concept of joy… joy in how quickly you’ll sell their home and how much you’ll get for it. If you are selling in the e-business space, you are also selling the concept of joy… joy in how the person will be able to quit their job and enjoy the freedom that wealth brings.

  • You cannot overstate joy. Don’t soft-sell it. Focus on the benefits as much as possible. Get people feeling joy while they read your sales copy.
  • You don’t have to use the word “joy”. Just make sure you stir up some happiness with every sentence.
  • Push your sales funnel prospect to think further: If you are selling something and you only talk about its successful achievement and you don’t focus on the joy they’ll feel afterward, you haven’t gone far enough. So if you’re selling a stock trading software system and you talk about how they’ll trade successfully, you’ve only done half the job. Talk about the joy they’ll feel when they can brag about their success and the money they’ll have when they trade more effectively.
  • Use descriptive words. Avoid cliches.

Joy is one of the only “pulling” emotions in your sales funnel. The others are “pushing” emotions because the sales funnel contact buys from you to avoid those other emotions but with joy, they are buying from you to get that emotion.

Using The 7 Basic Human Emotions in Your Sales Funnel: Contempt

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.

HOW TO USE CONTEMPT IN YOUR SALES FUNNEL

Yes, it is possible to use contempt in your sales funnel. It’s a powerful emotion and it’s one of the more difficult emotions to use, in my opinion.

Leveraging contempt works when you can align yourself with your audience against a third party. The purchase motivated by contempt becomes a purchase that is made to feel like you are taking revenge. It’s cathartic. In that way, it’s similar to using anger in your sales funnel or disgust in your sales funnel but there’s a feeling of superiority that comes with contempt, which isn’t shared with the feelings of anger or disgust.

I wonder if a lot of fundraising, particularly in the political sphere is motivated by contempt of the party, group, or organization you are fundraising against!

Here are some ways to use contempt in your sales funnel:

  • Focus your content on why your “opponent” (for lack of a better word) is wrong. Obviously you need to avoid libel so make sure you back up everything you say with fact. (Factual statements sell better anyway).
  • The main benefit of the contempt-driven sale is catharsis. There might be other benefits but those are a bonus compared to the feeling that your buyers have against the third party.
  • Before setting up your sales funnel, carefully consider how you’ll communicate your message and how much time you want to spend dealing with controversy. A blog, for example, might end up taking a lot of your time dealing with comments from supporters of people who are opposed to your cause. This might not be a bad thing (controversy can equal traffic and attention!) but it also be time consuming. If you don’t want to get drawn into a debate, use a sales funnel that doesn’t require a lot of interaction — such as AdWords driving people to a sales page.
  • Cultivate your language. Your audience might hate the thing they feel contempt about but they might not express it as hatred. They might articulate their hatred in different ways — righteous indignation, balanced debate, stunned silence. In other they might feel contempt but would never call it contempt.

Using The 7 Basic Human Emotions in Your Sales Funnel: Disgust

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.

HOW TO USE DISGUST IN YOUR SALES FUNNEL

Disgust might not seem like something you would want to put into your sales funnel but it can really work. Like fear and anger, the use of disgust is an effective tool when you want to position yourself WITH your target audience AGAINST some other cause. Therefore, it’s a useful tool to use especially in philanthropic copywriting.

Disgust is a primal repulsion and a desire to push back; it’s not just a gag reflex. The value of disgust in your sales funnel is that it makes your prospects predictable. They are motivated AWAY from disgust, so make sure that you place yourself and your solution in the direction they are going to move.

To use disgust in your sales funnel effectively, make sure you understand exactly what disgusts your reader. Spending too much time focusing on the wrong aspect of disgust may not effectively sell to your audience. I think a good example is to consider the disgust I feel about an outhouse. Outhouses are disgusting and you might think it has something to do with the smell. But that’s only a small, gross part of outhouses. If you wanted to sell me a solution by selling against my disgust of outhouses, you’d have to push deeper in your copywriting and talk about how an outhouse is a pile of festering germs with no place to wash your hands and just because you walk out of it and breathe clean air, those horrible little festering germs are still stuck to your clothing and hair. [Shudder]

Related to the above point, just because something might be gross doesn’t mean it disgusts your reader. Disgust goes deeper than that. Disgust is a primal repulsion. It’s something in our DNA. It’s something in our subconscious. It’s instinctual. An example that illustrates this (at least in my opinion) is the pictures of decayed teeth and tar-filled lungs on cigarette and chewing tobacco containers. These are meant to disgust people into NOT smoking or chewing but they are really just gross and don’t actually achieve the level of primal, repulsive disgust that the pictures are supposed to achieve.

Once you know what disgusts your reader, write JUST ENOUGH to remind them of what repulses them… but don’t write so much that they have to click away. Always keep coming back to the opportunity to eliminate the disgust.

Disgust is a strong enough feeling that people want to eliminate it completely from their lives, not just gloss it over. So when selling the solution to disgust, make sure you highlight how your solution will eliminate the disgust they feel and not just delay or lighten the problem.

Disgust is a great motivator but you need to be careful about what you try to disgust your readers with. Be careful that you don’t disgust them with something that’s part of their own lives. An example might be in the fitness and weightloss field. You might want to sell your weightloss program to someone who is overweight but trying to build a sense of disgust around your prospect’s level of obesity is not the right call. This practice could end up backfiring on you by destroying any rapport you might have with the prospect. The disgust you write about in your marketing collateral should be something that you and your prospect align together on.

Of all the basic emotions, I think disgust is one of the most-underused emotions to draw upon. But if you can find the right target audience, and if you express disgust in a way that really repulses your audience, you can push people through your sales funnel very quickly!