Hero image of Brian McCauley, ProSales columnist

Most decisions we make are based in some way on our emotions. In his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, noted psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman describes two systems of thought. System 1 thinking is very fast, emotional, and sometimes referred to as our “animal mind.” System 2 thinking is slower, more deliberate, and logical in nature. However, System 1 thinking often directs our rational thoughts, thereby guiding our System 2 thinking.

For instance, have you ever grabbed an item off a grocery store shelf that you buy regularly, but instead selected one that had a similar shape and color scheme? If you had taken a little more time, you would have realized it was not your normal choice. Instead, your System 1 Thinking identified it quickly, although incorrectly.

Knowing that most buying decisions are based on emotion, and that people justify their decisions with logic and reason, there are certain words that can be weaved into conversations that help trigger emotions that boost sales. Here are seven such words:

1. Amazing: People don’t want good, they want to be wowed. This word tugs on emotional strings and encourages people to act. However, the word should be used sparingly; not everything can be amazing.

2. Avoid: People tend to have a stronger desire to avoid a loss than to achieve a gain and the word plays to this theory of loss aversion. It is most effective when used in conjunction with a positive attribute of your product or service.

3. Because: In 2012 social phycologist Ellen Langer conducted a study where groups of people were standing in a line to use a copy machine. When the group was approached by a person stating, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages, may I use the copier,” this person was allowed to cut the line 60% of the time. When the person said “Excuse me, may I use the copier, because I’m in a rush,” the person was allowed to cut the line 94% of the time. As this study indicates, “because” justifies sufficient motivation for a certain action. It suggests a strong cause-and-effect relationship and is a good word to tie features to benefits during a product presentation.

4. Fix: People want solutions to their problems, and when you suggest you can fix an issue, you earn a captive audience.

5. Free: People like free stuff, and the word is very compelling. Researchers from the University of Minnesota offered consumers two purchase options for hand lotion. One offer was 50% more lotion, free, and the other was a discount of 33% off the original purchase price. Even though the price per ounce was the same with both options, the free choice was selected 73% of the time. Instead of discounting a product during a promotional period, you may want to offer a free option.

6. Imagine: This word puts prospects in an optimistic mindsight. They begin visualizing what the solution will do for them.

7. Now: The ability to create a sense of urgency in a buying situation is a chief desire of salespeople. This word can increase the urgency in a buyer, and plays to the emotional trigger of instant gratification.

Buyers’ dissatisfaction with their current situation and the promise of having that eliminated in the future motivates them to move forward with your solution. The cost of that solution and the fear of making a bad decision inhibit a buying decision. As a salesperson, you want to maximize current dissatisfaction and future promise, while minimizing cost and fear. Using some of these emotionally charged words during your presentation might help you get there.