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

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.


Fear can be an effective sales tool… when used correctly. But in order for fear to be used effectively, the feeling of fear must be acute. That is, the person needs to be losing sleep about the problem!

Let’s look at insurance as an example: Statistics tell us that people are underinsured across all the different kinds of insurance they could buy. (A ConsumerReport study says a quarter of Americans are underinsured in their health insurance, for example). But as the fear becomes more acute, the sale of insurance rises. Consider the amount of marketing health insurance to seniors – a market where the fear of being uninsured is very acute at an age where health is a top-of-mind issue. Or consider a related example: Home security alarm sales rise when neighborhood robberies increase.

This sense of acute fear is true for all products and services. Here are some ways to use fear in your sales funnel:

  • Target your marketing to people when they start to feel fear. This will take some strategic keyword research to differentiate between what casual searchers and fear-motivated searchers are looking for. But if you can find the fear-motivated search, make that a primary keyword in your marketing.
  • The more fear a prospect feels, the faster they’ll move through your sales funnel. Make sure your sales funnel is set up to increase in speed as the fear increases.

  • The more fear your prospect feels, the more they’ll pay. Obviously you never want to gouge your customers but it’s okay to price your offering accordingly. If you sell two products, and only one of them addresses a higher-fear situation, it’s okay for that one to cost more.
  • Highlight the dangers and risks of not buying. Case studies are an excellent tool here. You can use case studies to highlight and agitate the pre-purchase fear and you can use negative case studies to show what happens if the prospect doesn’t act.
  • Focus on the effects of the negative situation as well as the fear. For example, if you’re selling insurance, talk about the cost of leaving your family in debt PLUS the problem of losing sleep at night over leaving your family in debt. One is the effect, the other is the fear.
  • Not everyone would define their feeling as fear. They might call it “concern”, “anxiety”, “unsettledness” or something else. You don’t have to start your marketing with: “Afraid of the taxman?” or “Afraid of a rusty car?”. Not everyone is going to think they are afraid. So break out your thesaurus and figure out other ways to express fear.

  • Fear can lead to indecision. So make sure you offer a very clear, very compelling call to action but don’t be surprised if you have to offer it over and over again.

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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