Activating The Prospect’s Emotions is The Key to Being Successful in Sales

Humans were able to conquer the world because of our distinctive ability to reason. 

Yet, no matter how rational you think you are, the truth is we are all slaves to emotions. 

Dale Carnegie once said, “when dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.” 

So it can be helpful to be aware of this. As a marketer, if you can master the art of appealing to your audience’s emotions, you will boost your sales in no time! 

Logic vs. Emotions in Sales & Marketing

I’m sure that, at some point, you experienced this. You thought you had the perfect offer. It was rooted in logic, supported by rational arguments. After considering the facts and the benefits, there was no way that anyone could turn you down. And yet they did. 

Many (wrongly) assume that their logic will sway the other party if they come prepared with facts and data. However, research shows that our emotions are the foundation of our buying behaviors, not logic. 

Antonio Damasio, professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, argues that emotions drive our decision-making process. He researched subjects who suffered damage to the brain parts responsible for feelings but whose logical areas were unaffected. 

While the subjects could process and think critically about the information, they could not make decisions. This is because they didn’t know how to feel about their options. Even when it came to simple choices like what to eat, they had issues reaching a conclusion. 

Sales = The Transference of Emotions

In his book Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing, author Douglas Van Praet puts it perfectly:

“The most startling truth is we don’t even think our way to logical solutions. We feel our way to reason. Emotions are the substrate, the base layer of neural circuitry underpinning even rational deliberation. Emotions don’t hinder decisions. They constitute the foundation on which they’re made!”

As I discussed in my latest podcast episode, our desires guide us. More precisely, it’s the expectation of how we’ll get something. Then, we use rationality to justify our decision – but we already took the decision. (Check out The Underground Marketer Episode 12 here)

Listening to your clients, figuring out what they need, and having the right attitude is the key to success in sales. Projecting positive emotions onto others is the secret to making them feel safe and at ease. As Eli Wilde said, “People don’t buy your product or service. They buy feelings, and they’re doing things for emotional reasons. All sales is is a transference of emotion.” 

So imagine this. You and your wife are looking for a house. You were shown a lot of options, but none of them seem to satisfy your wife. So you give it one more try. But this time, something is different – the real estate agent. She is interested in you and your lives, she asks questions about what you’re looking for in a house, and so on. Finally, your wife mentions that she prefers a secluded place where she could relax and enjoy nature. 

You reach the house, and the first thing the salesperson says is that it has a beautiful and secluded garden, with tall fences, where no one can disturb you. You enter the house, walk through the rooms, and finally, she opens up the curtains at the end of the main hall to reveal the gorgeous garden. Your wife is ecstatic, exclaiming that this is exactly what she wanted. 

The right attitude makes a world of difference. In this case, previous sales agents only cared about selling a house to the couple, but the last sales agent made sure to sell them THE house. 

How to Hijack the Decision-making Process of Your Prospects 

As marketers, we need to be able to establish an emotional connection with our clients. Of course, buyers don’t want to deal with unlikeable people. But, on the other hand, likable salespeople know how to make customers feel like actual people, not just walking wallets. Business is about establishing this rapport between you and your customer, where you can both see eye to eye. 

Research from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow shows that there are only 4 emotions: happy, sad, surprised/afraid, disgusted/angry. So your role as a marketer is to figure out what different emotions do and how to appeal to them. 

For example, research also showed that people share positive (happy) content more often. But, on the other hand, negative (sad) content gets more clicks and engagement because it makes people curious. 

As a marketer, you could benefit from sharing positive news and developments about your industry. For instance, if you work in finance, share positive news about the stock market. 

These examples prove that emotions really matter and that people act differently based on what they feel. Even negative emotions can be used successfully, such as guilt. For example, when you order food, you can donate a few dollars for a child’s meal, an offer you get from an NGO. It works! 


It’s all about figuring out your audience and what works best for them. Try to go through different experiments and collect data – lots of data. This will help you to recognize patterns of behavior. For example, see if you get more shares or engagement when you share positive or negative content. 

However, the best rule of thumb is this: enthusiasm sells. Likable, friendly, and approachable salespeople are much more likely to connect with customers than know-it-all people. 

Zig Ziglar used to say that “selling is essentially a transference of feelings”. Humans naturally pick up on the vibe that someone gives off and that has an impact on us. For example, maybe one time you were feeling down and interacted with a happy and enthusiastic person. As a result, your mood instantly shifted to more positive feelings. 

Lastly, remember – you can’t convince people with knowledge. They make decisions emotionally, and the only thing you can do is provide them with justification. Your role is to make others feel welcomed, safe and comfortable, so they lower their guard. You don’t want to awaken their logical side when something feels off. Yet don’t be fake either because people pick up on these cues. As long as you are genuine and positive, you can succeed even without using the best words or strategies. 

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