Boost Your Sales by
Turning Customers Inside-Out

Inside Out

Many people (including some sales and marketing coaches) think selling is a matter of manipulating, pushing, or tricking customers. And some selling is just that. Con men and boiler room operations are at the extreme edge of persuasive communication, and they give the rest of it a bad name.

But in the hyper-connected Web 2.0 world, strong-arming customers is a lousy business strategy. (Not to mention making it hard to face yourself in the mirror every morning.) Effective persuasion in the new age of transparency calls on us to take traditional selling “hot buttons” and turn them inside-out.

Instead of figuring out how we can manipulate or push customers, we need to think about how we can meet their basic emotional needs and make buying irresistible.

Here are a few ways to take traditional “push” techniques and turn them around so they pull at the core emotional needs of your readers and customers.

We need connection with a tribe

Human beings are an intensely social creature. Most of us crave connection with a group of like-minded primates.

You might create a forum or training program that allows your customers to connect and share ideas about how to get more from your product. Or you can simply provide testimonials, case studies, compelling stories and photos of customers that let your prospects say, “This is where I belong. There are people like me here.”

Social proof is nothing more or less than the tribe saying, “This is trustworthy and good. The tribe approves of this.”

We need to protect ourselves

Direct marketing guru Dan Kennedy likes to say that most people are wandering around with umbilical cords in their hands, looking for someplace to plug them in.

Kennedy uses it as an insult, but it’s also a valuable insight into your community of customers. If they believe you will protect and care for them, they’ll gratefully reward you with their loyalty and their business.

In rough times more than ever, customers are looking for a magical parent to solve all their problems. Show that you’re strong and wise enough to help. Show that you’re trustworthy and that you care about making their lives better. And then do just that.

Even when times are good, providing a safe harbor will always speak to people’s core needs. And when times are bad, it’s that much more powerful.

We need to feel good

The decision to buy is made in an instant: a split second Yes fueled by desire and emotion. We want the emotional benefits that the product or service will give us.

Without that emotionally-driven Yes, we would only buy logical things like healthy food, modest and adequate shelter, and efficient, inexpensive transportation.

Even in the very worst of times, people will spend money on pleasure, beauty and comfort. No matter how practical your product is, think seriously about how you can communicate the ways it makes your customers feel good.

We also need to rationalize our emotions

On the other hand, even though we make emotional buying decisions, we don’t like to think of ourselves as toddlers with wallets. We’d much rather pretend that we make logical, rational decisions.

That’s why the best emotional promise needs to be backed up with some logical, reasonable facts. Customers need to reassure themselves that there’s a good “reason why” they’ve decided to make this purchase. They’re looking for a plausible because.

Without a logical reason (although “logical” can be a stretch in some cases), customers’ fear of feeling foolish will overcome their desire for the product. Don’t just stoke their emotional desire; satisfy their need for reasonable justification.

Business is not rational

Whether you’re a multibillion-dollar company or a lone freelance copywriter, business is about human feelings. Until our customers are robots or Vulcans, emotions will always be an essential component of business success.

If you need to attract more customers and make more sales (like anyone doesn’t), become a student of core human emotional needs. Speak respectfully to those needs, and keep your words and your actions in line with them. You’ll make more money, you’ll create a stronger bond with your customers, and you’ll enjoy your business more.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is an Associate Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.

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Reader Comments (30)

  1. says

    I only ever want to sell things that will be of benefit to my customer. I do not want to scam money out of them. Knowing that my products will benefit my customers is one of the ways I can push myself to be a better marketer and salesperson (and still be able to sleep at night).
    Thanks for the tips

  2. says

    hi all..i’m new here. i’m learning how to make money with blogging, and i’ve found that ur blog is one of the most recommended blog to be visited.thank u for permitting me commenting here

  3. says

    As a marketer you have worked long and hard to build credibility and trust among your visitors, so be sure that you do not promote junk products or services.

  4. says

    Direct marketing guru Dan Kennedy likes to say that most people are wandering around with umbilical cords in their hands, looking for someplace to plug them in. Kennedy uses it as an insult…

    Good article, well thought-out and presented. BUT, I really do think that you misunderstood Dan Kennedy’s motives with the above comment.

    I am sure Dan’s very astute observation is not meant as an insult but is no more than his very graphic interpretation of the “Tribe” theory.

    As marketers we all pretty much accept that humans crave acceptance by their peers and are looking for somewhere to call home.

    “Core human emotions” at work!

  5. says

    Agreed on people buying with emotions, that is why I just introduce folks so a home, don’t sell it. They either connect emotionally or don’t.

    My mom used to tell me, even in hard times, woman will always buy a jar of cold cream. Hadn’t thought about that in years but your comment reminded me of it.

  6. says

    If we want continued trust from visitors, we gotto be highly innovative in creating products and wary to recommend other’s products.

    “emotions will always be an essential component of business success.” – absolutely. Love that.

    Thx for reminding the fundamental principles.

  7. says

    The principles of Marketing and Sales are the same online or offline. Scamming your customers is very short sighted and not recommended if you plan for a long term business. I agree that people need to connect and trust the person on the other side of the screen. This Web 2.0 will take people a little getting used to.

  8. says

    I’ve been learning a lot about sales lately. (Ooooh I guess that WOULD be a helpful skill for you know SELLING STUFF, something that I missed in my first two years in biz!)

    This is a theme that has come up over and over again – the rational combined with the emotional. Honestly it’s something that I have not completely figured out yet, it’s a delicate balance and I believe it must be done authentically to be successful. I think your reminder to speak *respectfully* to those needs is important.

  9. says

    @Keith, usually I’ve heard Dan Kennedy make the comment in the context of warning entrepreneurs not to look for anyone to take care of them. To be resourceful and create our own solutions. But it’s an interesting observation and it can be applied to a lot of different situations.

    @Luca, it’s very true that the principles remain the same. However, your chances of getting caught and exposed if you have a crappy product are higher online, because people are more connected and messages can travel so quickly.

    @Laura, better late than never! Just keep immersing yourself, you’ll find your own balance. I like to think of the rational side as “how will my customer explain this purchase to his/her spouse?” It just helps me frame the kinds of arguments that I’ll want to make.

  10. says

    Spot-on article Sonia!

    I’ve been a member of Seth Godin’s triiibe since August,
    and it’s been a remarkable experience.

    Everyone who has replied has it right. The difference in
    a triiibe is this: Take all of the ingredients you’ve mentioned
    plus these: Leader connects to people with the same dream or purpose, leader connects those people to each other.

    “Tribes” audio CD available free at
    or purchase book at Amazon, B&N etc.

    thanks my friends,

  11. says

    Just to add my tuppence worth on @Laura’s emotion versus logic. I have always worked on the basis that it is the emotional trigger that sparks the buying action and the logic is then used/needed to justify and consolidate the sale.
    When you buy a nice new outfit the initial feeling is “boy (or girl of course!) do I feel good in this. Cannot wait to wear this out on Saturday.” Then you start to add in little things like, “..and of course I can wear it to that meeting next week, so it’s gonna be money well spent” to justify the purchase.
    If you think about this approach to your sales copy/pitch then you will focus on pumping up the emotion in the sale and then justifying it with the logical facts as to why it is also the sensible thing to do.
    Hope this helps!

  12. says

    I work for a small agency in nh. I am a retired psychlogoist who acts as a “jill of all trades” for the agency. I was impressed by the content of your article. It is about relationships, honesty, and listening to the client. i look forward to reading TRIBES.

  13. says

    I was really interested when you pointed out most sales are con type tactics but that it doesnt work in the e commerce world. I agree with all of your points about being straight forward and trustworthy. Great article.

  14. says

    That Mr. Kennedy is quite a cynical man, isn’t he? As a sales and marketing professional, I know that people are going to buy, they just want to make an informed decision. Does that rest on emotions? Sometimes. Does it rely solely on logic? Usually, no.

    Primarily, a buying decision is based on implicit trust which drives emotion. As the age of consumerism wanes, more and more buying decisions will be based on perceived value and less on emotion since financial stress will provide a counter balance.

    Good, thought stimulating article. Thanks for posting.

  15. says

    Hi Sonia,

    What a great article. I especially appreciated your thoughts on linking rational and emotional needs in communication. One would think that your ideas would be common sense but we don’t need to look too far to see that this isn’t so. It made me think about how much damage has been done to the reputation of sales and marketing people around the world. Over time, an overwhelming number of poorly trained, or poorly suited people working in sales have created a literal world-wide fear of sales people and the sales process.

    Your article has inspired me to give a name to this fear and to recommend your article for enlightened marketing. See zapoletesphobia



  16. says

    I believe in creative marketing. You don’t have to do the same old same old as others are doing. Try to be creative and customers appreciate it and will happily fall for it.

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