Your Buyer on Fear


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Do you believe that Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) is the only way to sell successfully in this tough economic time?

I’ve listened to a number of supposed sales gooroos promote their fear-based approaches, suggesting to their followers that they:

  • Find or create terrifying outcomes our customers haven’t thought about,
  • Build a pile of evidence around that threat, and then
  • Go scare the bejezus out of prospects so they buy from us.

I had a telemarketer try it on me this weekend when it came to life insurance. Now, I always try to be nice to telemarketers because heaven knows I wouldn’t want their job. But this person was bound and determined to scare the heck out of me because I carry no life insurance. He didn’t seem to understand that I have no family to worry about – other than 4 leggeds who can’t be the beneficiaries of any policy. I’m the rare person who really doesn’t need life insurance. And guess what? You can’t scare me into buying.

Yep, fear-based marketing and sales is all around us.

Why Fear Works

Here’s the bad news. Fear works as a motivator for we humans. In fact, fear is the strongest motivator we have. And we don’t even know it.

  • Over 90% of our innate brain programming – the programming we’re born with – is focused on fear and survival.
  • Since 95%+ of our behaviors are driven by our unconscious brain (where all that fear programming lives), that means the majority of our reactions and decisions are fear-based.

In today’s modern stress-filled world, we live in a constant state of fight or flight. That’s because our reptilian brains are on overdrive when it comes to survival mode. Thanks to economic pressures, stress at work, stress with kids and just plain modern life – our unconscious caveman brain lives in survival overdrive. We modern humans rarely have the time to clear those survival receptors that are screaming at us to flee, fight or just plain shut down and play dead. The result? We stay stuck in our fear brain.

That’s another reason that fear-based marketing and sales seems to get more traction. It’s playing right into the triggers that are already firing in our brains. Fear works because of our brain’s programming. Add the impetus of our new economy and you have a formidable sales and marketing weapon.

But just because it works – does that make it okay?

Questions I Think About

Is triggering a fear response in our buyers really a good business practice?

Why not simply impress our buyers with the positive power our products and services can bring to their world?

If we’re focused on responsible business – why not offer a carrot instead of a stick?

There will always be those who view fear and intimidation – the Shock and Awe tactic – as the best way to motivate buyers, employees, partners and pretty much anyone they meet.

That said, I don’t see a lot of those people with long term relationships. Who wants a relationship based on fear? When you’re afraid of something or someone – do you respect them? Or are you looking for a chance to get away from that situation at every turn?

I personally don’t believe or support the idea that fear is a good business tactic. I understand the brain chemistry that drives fear to be a powerful motivator. But that doesn’t mean I believe that pressing those buttons is an integrity-driven way to create a sustainable business, customer relationship or revenue stream.

When it comes down to a simple choice between integrity and fear-based manipulation to get ahead, I’ll take the carrot approach anytime.

How about you?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Rebel Brown
Rebel Brown consistently challenges the status quo to deliver optimum solutions and high velocity growth for her clients. She combines the strategic expertise and tactical savvy of a global Corporate Strategy, Launch and Turnaround Expert, along with the leadership and motivational skills needed to get the job done.


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