Paranormal Activity II is a hit at the box office these days. Are you a fan of horror movies? The goal of a horror movie is to scare you and keep you from feeling safe and comfortable. Various scare tactics with music, visuals and suspense are used to drive the fight or flight response and leave us feeling a little creeped out and unsettled. Not a place most of us want to be for very long.

So why would sales strategies focused on scaring people stick around for decades? I thought these were dead and gone. But I was wrong – some people are still preaching that sales professionals should use the economy and recession effect to scare prospects into buying!

A competitor had an awesome-sounding webinar recently on selling in these times. And a couple of people who participated thought it was great information and very helpful. But a client of mine said something about it just wasn’t sitting well with her. She explained that the underlying message was that in this economy we need to scare our customers to increase their sense of urgency and coerce them into buying now.

What??!  Scare our customers? Isn’t that the old way of selling: to dig until we find pain, help them feel the pain, and then “create’ the need for what we do? It may for some people, but I don’t think most sales professionals are comfortable with that approach.

Long-term success in selling comes from building strong customer loyalties when we help people discover their needs by asking them great questions and exploring with them the impact of their situation and what they can do to remedy it. At its essence, this is similar to the “find the pain” philosophy in that we are finding gaps in something; yet our focus is on collaborating and working with our prospects to find a solution.

We can professionally increase the sense of urgency to action without “scaring” our prospects. People have enough real fears these days and if we aren’t selling something that truly saves their life, we should leave the scare tactics to the film industry.

What’s your take on scare tactics and selling? Let us know in the Comments section.


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