Sales funnel psychology: Using emotion in your funnel.

sales funnel psychology
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Emotional states, and how use buyer motivation in your outbound communication.

Sales funnel psychology is very simply the art of understanding the behaviour of human beings, and relating it to your funnel. It’s a good idea to read this post first on how to start your sales funnel strategy.

So, you’ve decided on your funnel outcomes, and know where you’re headed. Great stuff. Now it’s time to figure out how to create the journey for those people who enter your funnel, but don’t convert immediately.

Remember, as a rule, 95% of people won’t convert straight away. Sure, some will, and that’s fantastic. But, for the most part, the funnel is there to nurture prospects and increase your overall conversion rate.

So as you’ve now figured out your goal, now you’ve got to map out how you’re going to get them there.

I’m going to talk about sales funnel psychology as a way to structure the customer experience and the journey you’re going to take prospects on. In this case, we are going to talk about emotional states, and buying motivation strategies to figure out how to craft our outbound emails.

Driving states

Probably the key fundamental of creating buying environments is realising that buying decisions are mostly driven by emotion.

Human beings do not make logical buying decisions. They make emotional ones. For example, you don’t buy a Rolex watch because you want to tell the time. You buy one because it’s a status symbol, an avatar of wealth and success.

It’s important to have to work out what makes the sort of people you have attracted into your funnel tick.

This is where states come into play. What are the positively focussed emotions you want to drive in your audience? Is it excitement, desire, a sense of belonging?

And of course, there are also the less than positive states too, such as fear, greed, jealousy and even guilt. In fact, these emotional states are often far more powerful at delivering a message than powerful ones.

This is how we are going to design our funnel steps. We are going to focus on emotional states primarily.

Stepping stones

Building a funnel is a little like working out how to cross a river.

There is no bridge, and the only way to cross and keep your feet dry is to use stepping stones.

And that’s what we are going to do with our funnel. They can’t jump across in one go, it’s too big a leap. So we have to be able to lead them bit by bit, step-by-step.

We are going to create a series of steps to get people to the other bank, where they become customers.

Stepping stones across the water – a metaphor for sales funnel psychology

And each individual stepping stone represents a different emotion, or state. When you take the customer on a journey through different emotions, you increase your ability to convert more of them.

It’s worth pointing out that different people may have their own motivation for choosing to buy a product. There isn’t one state or emotion that everyone shares which encourages them to purchase.

So now as a practical exercise, it’s worth writing a list of emotional states that may prompt someone to choose to buy. Will some people buy through FOMO (fear of missing out)? Will others buy because they want to make a fast buck? Is it conceivable that some people may purchase because of some peer pressure? What are all the key reasons you can think of that would motivate someone to become a buyer?

Motivation direction

Once you have your list of states written, I want you consider the motivation direction of each of them. Is it a “towards a goal” strategy, or an “away from pain” strategy?

A “towards a goal” strategy is when someone chooses to buy because it seems to get them closer to what they want? It is positively focussed, fulfils a need or desire or somehow helps them get nearer to achieving a desired outcome.

An “away from” motivated buying strategy. It’s negatively focussed, and based around fear of something bad happening if they don’t buy it. They may not particularly want that thing, but not having it could lead to something worse.

For example, buying an insurance product may be both. On the one hand, getting a particular insurance may allow you to bid on government contracts. This would be a “towards a goal” strategy.

Or you might buy it because you worry about what happens if there’s a disaster and you don’t have it? This would be an “away from strategy”.

Generally, in thinking about the emotional states to build into your funnel, you will have both towards and away from strategies to work with.

Now, if you can determine whether a customer is towards or away from focussed, you can segment your funnel, and get the right message to each.

So a person who is towards focussed you may want to ping emails to them which reminds them of what great benefits your product offers. Whereas with an away from focussed person, you might want to remind them of the problems of not having it.

Ideally, then, if you can figure out their direction of focus, you have a great opportunity to personalise the experience for each individual.

Using motivation direction in your communications

So how do you figure it out? Well, there’s no hard and fast rule. You could simply ask them a well crafted question. Alternatively, you might look back at their historical purchasing trends if you have the technical capability and access to their data (which mostly Google and big tech companies have).

One of the tricks I like to use is to get someone to take a “quiz”, and by profiling the general answers, you can get a rough idea of their motivation for buying direction.

For example, if I was thinking about the sales funnel psychology for an insurance product, I might ask a question like this:

What's the most important thing to you when buying insurance? 

I might then give them four options. Two are towards focussed, and two are away from focussed. For example:

  • I don’t want to spend that much (away from)
  • That I trust the company I’m buying from (towards)
  • If I have a problem, i’ve got some protection (away from)
  • Having great service is important (towards)

You see, now depending on how they answered you can segment them properly, and ensure you deliver a much more targeted message to each individual customer.

Now you’ve done this, create two different strands to your funnel emails. One which will be sent to those who answered with a towards motivation, and one strand of emails sent those who answered with an away from motivation.

In this post, we have introduced the concept of motivation direction. There are a couple of other elements of buying motivation which are good to consider too including activation, intensity and persistence.

Dylan Leighton

Dylan Leighton

Dylan Leighton is an expert in marketing automation, Sales Funnels, Blockchain and Human Behavioural Psychology. Born and Bred in Yorkshire, England, he now works predominantly as a growth hacking strategist, working with brands from all over the world to improve user acquisition and customer retention.

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