Unlocking Sales Success: Leveraging Emotional Appeal for Optimal Results

The days of selling a product purely based on its features, benefits, and price are gone. Today’s customers no longer respond to this type of messaging – instead, they need more than just facts. They want to connect emotionally with what they’re buying, so as sales leaders in the 21st century, we are responsible for creating marketing campaigns that tap into those emotions.

With tailored strategies and the right tools, we can unlock an entirely new level of sales success by leveraging emotional appeal for optimal results – all while providing value far beyond what any surface-level analysis could ever reveal. Let’s explore how to leverage emotions to maximize results!

Your Key Insight

In the sales career, it is essential to (almost daily) re-recognize that a product or service is not simply a tangible offering. It is a gateway to an emotional experience that customers seek. You are the gateway guard, and you are coaching them through.

Thinking Point

Consider selling a car, for instance. It is never the car that entices buyers; it is the allure of freedom and independence, experiences, and future remembrances that accompany owning and driving a car. “Cupholders ensure the crew is well stocked and self-sufficient – can you hear the peace and quiet? The sound dampening and the smooth road handling ensure you can get some headspace. Stable, safe, and peaceful, isn’t it?”

Similarly, when presenting a vacation package, the aim is not solely to sell a trip. It is to paint a picture of relaxation and excitement, enticing customers with the promise of a rejuvenating getaway. “Oh, darling, you will just pop with that tan. Close your eyes for a second. Can you smell the coconut oil? You’ll need a coverup for the afternoon breeze coming off the lapping waves. That sea air is bracing. Oh, you HAVE TO send me a selfie for my wall! Isn’t it exciting? Let’s make sure you get the right spots for your stories.”

Your assignment is the application of “emotionalization,” your product, service, or solution. How well are you stimulating stronger emotions?

Some Examples and the Power of Emotions

I’m sure you have numerous autobiographical examples demonstrating the effectiveness of appealing to emotions in driving sales; I certainly do. But we are about the Science of Commercialization, so here are a few relevant research findings:

A study by the University of Chicago revealed that products associated with positive emotions, such as happiness and joy, are more likely to be purchased. But who hasn’t bought a keepsake for an extortion-level price because of the moment of joy captured? Well, Antonio Rangle and colleagues do a great job of showing the effect, even though the study was done out of a fantastic school and a top 5 business school ranking yearly! Let’s look at another:

Research reported in the Harvard Business Review found that products linked to negative emotions, like fear or regret, can trigger an increased propensity for customers to make a purchase. Not only an interesting study but, on the face of it, counterintuitive. Jennifer Aaker and Michael Norton are rockstar researchers and super smart business professors; their study showcases a very interesting effect. One more?

A study by the University of Pennsylvania unveiled the significance of associating products with social status, showcasing its influence on consumer buying behavior. It’s not precisely a blinding insight, but Michael Norton and his colleagues teamed up with Dan Arieli and took an elegant approach to showing how status actually drives buying.

The Application

Here’s how to address emotional appeal through some tips you can start applying right away:

  1. Understand customer emotions: Gain a deep understanding of the emotions customers experience when considering your product or service. Feelings are messy and ugly, but that’s the job.
  2. Highlight emotional benefits: Clearly articulate how your product or service will make customers feel, emphasizing the emotional impact it can have on their lives. It’s the sizzle, not the steak.
  3. Employ emotive language: Craft compelling sales pitches using words and phrases that evoke positive or negative emotions, depending on the desired effect. Like the crisp snap of a can tab, with a burst of mist and burble of the bubbling wet foam of aluminum can (not one of those hazardous tear-off rusty steel cans), because aluminum makes your beverage smooth and delicious. — Thirsty?
  4. Foster emotional connection: Establish rapport and build trust with customers. Do what you say and say what you mean – A simple sentence that can prove very helpful in enabling customers to feel comfortable and confident in their decision to purchase from you. Especially in B2B, you may also have to make friends and be a human so that people will like you. And they probably will. I’d bet you’re likable.

By applying these strategies diligently, you can harness the power of emotions to boost sales and achieve remarkable results for your business.

References below – all great papers!


University of Chicago Study
Title: The Role of Emotion in Consumer Decision Making
Authors: Antonio Rangel, Christopher D. Wright, and Zaki Wahhaj
Publication: Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 219-238
Year: 2012

Harvard Business School Study
Title: The Power of Negative Emotion in Persuasion
Authors: Jennifer Aaker and Michael L. Norton
Publication: Harvard Business Review, Vol. 89, No. 1, pp. 62-69
Year: 2011

University of Pennsylvania Study
Title: The Role of Social Status in Consumer Behavior
Authors: Michael J. Norton, Francesca Gino, and Dan Ariely
Publication: Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 499-508
Year: 2011

Why The Boomerang

Some fears resemble the abstract return of a boomerang… Fear can be a powerful force, holding us back from achieving our goals and realizing our...