Using Fear to Help People

Halloween is coming up soon. It’s a huge holiday. For the kids too 😉

So let’s talk about scaring people.

Of course fear sells. Fear of loss. Fear of pain. Fear of the unknown. Fear of mistakes.. Fear of bad health and its implications. Fear of looking bad.

Yes, fear sells.

You probably took multiple actions already today out of fear of some type, small or large.

This morning by 8am I brushed my teeth, went to the gym, had a protein shake, did not go through a yellow light,  ran an update on one of our sites,  and called a pest control company.

All of those actions can be associated with fear of some type.

Your prospects and clients are no different.

The key to success in selling is in understanding fear, and knowing how to use it properly, in a non-salesy or cheesy way.
In an article on using fear in selling,  Russ Henneberry of Digital Marketer cites research showing there are two considerations controlling how threatened people feel:

  1. Perceived Vulnerability.Meaning, “How likely is this to hurt me?”
  2. Perceived Severity.Meaning, “How bad will this hurt?”As a coach, you should take into account a third element, efficacy, which is what will actually cause someone to take ACTION in order to avoid a threat.

That element is the person’s perception as to whether or not they can do anything about the threa

If they feel they have no control, they will do nothing.

If action seems realistic, and is perceived to be able to minimize or eliminate the threat, and the value is perceived higher than the cost, then they will act.

So, how do we use all of this?

Instead of telling people they are vulnerable, will be harmed in the long term, and need to take action, let’s ask questions to help them reach those conclusions.

Let’s look at each of these three areas.

1. Perceived Vulnerability.  Formulate questions that prompt them to think about what they don’t want, or what they already might be experiencing that they’d rather not.

“What are you experiencing regarding how you feel when you wake up?”

“Tell me about your typical diet now.”

“What do you think will happen if you don’t do something about that?”

“How are you now dealing with that?


2. Perceived Severity.Once you find the hurt, help them understand the pain level, or the possible implications.

Get them to attach numbers wherever possible.

They will need to see the threat or actual existing problem as being large or urgent enough to take action on.

“How often are you noticing that?”

“What will happen if that issue continues?”

“Is that something that will go away on its own?”

“What are all of those prescriptions costing you now?”

“How much worse has it gotten over the past few months?”

“How is that disrupting what you really want to do?”

“What do you feel are the long-term effects if that is not stopped?”


3. Efficacy.Here you will help them visualize an action (your solution) that has value greater than the investment.

“What, ideally, would you like to see happen?”

“How would you plan on implementing the nutrition program?”

“Could you see yourself actually losing the weight?”

“Is this something that you feel could help you get back into cycling again?”

Take each of these categories and create your own questions. Then anticipate the likely possible answers.

Then more follow-up questions.

You will be using fear, not to simply scare your prospects or customers, but to help them.

And that’s what being a professional is all about.

So go scare someone into taking the action that will change their life!

Will you please share with other coaches? Thanks!
Art Sobczak

For over 30 years Art has helped sales pros say the right things to get more appointments, clients, and sales in virtually all industries. He's speaker, trainer, coach, and best-selling author, and now working to help health, wellness, and fitness coaches and trainers help more people. Contact him at Art@HealthCoach.Training or (480)699-0958.

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