We’re living through a scary time. The Coronavirus has most people feeling incredibly fearful. 

But the uncomfortable truth is that fear is a powerful motivator when it comes to sales. 

You’ve probably heard the famous saying, “People buy with emotion and justify with logic.” Well fear is one of the most powerful emotions of all.

So the question becomes: is it ok for us to seize opportunities created by uncertainty? Or is it unethical to “take advantage of people’s fear”?  

Just over the past week, I’ve seen so many examples of sleazy scammers who are blatantly preying on people’s fears. I’m sure you have to, and frankly it pisses me off.  

But the reality is, chaos creates opportunities. Fortunes will be lost, but fortunes will be made as well. And if we play our cards right this can actually be an incredible period of growth for our businesses. 

And even more importantly, we have a huge opportunity to do good in our communities, to help our clients weather this storm, and to provide guidance and reassurance to people who are desperate for it. 

So in this article I’m going to show you the right way- and wrong way- to profit from fear. 

Put on your own oxygen mask first

Before we think about clients, we need to first focus on ourselves. 

It’s hard to be creative and to think of solutions when you’re just trying to survive. 

It’s hard to build rapport with prospects when you’re in “fight or flight” mode. 

It’s hard to make sales when you’re coming from a place of desperation. 

So first you need to take care of yourself. 

Start with your finances. Lower your monthly expenses. Cancel that HBO package now that Curb Your Enthusiasm is over. Maybe sell a few things on Craigslist. Try to win back some old clients who have canceled. Whatever your situation is, try to lower your financial stress as much as possible so you can approach clients from a place of calm and confidence. 

Next you need to protect yourself mentally. Turn off the TV so the news isn’t spiking your cortisol. Meditate. Exercise. Get the endorphins flowing so you feel positive. 

And most importantly, take action. An object at rest stays at rest, but an object in motion stays in motion. If you sit at home and wait for things to get better, you’ll quickly feel lethargic and scared. 

But if you write down your to-do list, start doing client outreach, and start taking proactive steps to grow your business… you’ll soon feel unstoppable. 

Once you take care of yourself, now you’re ready to start shining your light for your prospects and clients.

Understand your clients’ pain. 

You’ve probably seen a thousand emails by now from every list you’re subscribed to, making an embarrassing play for your attention. 

“OMG the sky is falling… buy our crap!” 

There’s no correlation between the virus and their product. It’s disgustingly obvious that they’re just smashing the “fear button” without having any deeper substance. 

The thing is, your clients aren’t scared of the Coronavirus. They’re scared of specific things. 

They’re scared of making payroll. They’re scared of laying off staff. They’re scared of not being able to order inventory. They’re scared of not being able to take care of their clients. 

Whatever industry you serve- dentists, chiropractors, veterinarians, etc.- they all have unique challenges and specific things they’re feeling scared about right now. 

You need to understand these things and be able to speak their language. If you can show them you understand exactly what they’re feeling, it’ll grab their attention. Your voice will cut through the noise of all the sleazy salespeople who are adding to the fear. 

It will also show empathy. People will start to trust you because they see you truly care and you’re here to help. 

And most importantly, by describing their pain points, it will highlight the need to take action. They’ll think, “You’re right, I’ve kind of gotten numb to the pain, but I realize how bad it is. Let’s make a change.”  

Get out a pen and start writing. Pretend you’re one of your clients and your journaling about what you’re feeling. 

Call some of your clients and ask them what they’re going through. Be a shoulder to lean on and just listen. 

By doing these things you’ll be able to describe in crystal clear detail what your prospects are feeling. 

Come up with real solutions

They say that all human behavior can be reduced to two things:

  • Moving towards pleasure. 
  • Moving away from pain. 

Everything we do in our lives can be explained by those two motivations. 

Right now, there is a lot of pain that people want to move away from:

  • Catching the Coronavirus
  • Losing your job
  • Running out of savings
  • Fear of store shelves going empty
  • Not knowing when things will get back to normal

And for marketers, these are all emotional triggers they can press to try to get their prospects to buy. 

But here’s another principle of human behavior: people can only live with pain for so long before they do something to remove the stress- including ignoring the problem entirely. 

And that’s what so many marketers miss. If you try to scare people into buying, it might work once or twice. Or it might grab their attention a couple times. 

But if you can’t deliver real results and help move them away from that pain and fear, pretty soon they’re just going to tune you out. The easiest way to block out the discomfort is to just stop paying attention. 

Now compare that to the opposite. What if your service truly solves their problem? They’ll think, “Wow, I did business with this person and my life got better. Let’s do more business together!” 

Most importantly, they’ll tell all their friends about you. 

So make sure that you’re not selling a service just to make money. Put together an offer that truly helps their business. And lucky for you, there are plenty of problems to solve right now!

Believe in your business

It’s not enough to just have a great service. You need to be able to explain it to your prospects so that they see how great it is as well. 

Like they say, perception is reality.

As business owners, we help ourselves by helping other people. We receive value in our businesses by providing an equal or greater amount of value to our clients. If a client pays us $1,000 it’s only because he or she received benefits that he believes are greater than $1,000. 

So you must believe that you are providing a valuable service to your clients. You must be able to look them in the eyes with confidence and say, “My service costs $X because you get more than $X worth of value in return.” 

If you can’t say that, then you need to change your offering. (This is true whether we’re in the middle of a viral pandemic or not!)

I’ve heard so many people say, “Is it okay for me to try to make sales right now? I don’t want it to look like I’m being greedy right now and taking advantage of people.” Sure, if you don’t believe in your business, you look like just another profiteer trying to squeeze a few dollars out of fearful people. 

But when you believe in your business, it actually makes sales easier. That’s because you realize that your clients are in pain and they need your service. If it saves them money or generates revenue and helps them pay their staff- then you actually have an obligation to pitch them your offer. 

Avoid the wrong kinds of clients

Like I said before, it’s tempting for a lot of people to hit the “fear button.” People think that by using dramatic language and worse-case-scenarios, they’ll get people to flock to their business. 


But those aren’t the kind of customers you want. People who are solely motivated by fear are going to be hard to make happy. 

They’re not going to put in the work to get the full benefit of your service. 

They’re probably going to be high maintenance, and they’re probably going to refund. 

You already have a good idea of your ideal customer. I assure you, those people are still out there. They might be feeling a little more freaked out than normal, but there same motivations and desires still hold true. 

So don’t deviate from your path. Don’t buy into the fear and feel like you need to drastically change up your messaging or your strategies. 

Keep going after your target avatar. They’re still out there. And now more than ever you have the chance to build real relationships with them and show you’re here to help.

3 concrete things you can start doing today

I hope this is helpful for you so far, but I also realize that it’s general and theoretical. So I want to give you some specific things you can do. 

The first is Facebook Lives. 

Everywhere you turn there is uncertainty. TV, the news, social media, podcasts… everyone is talking about the Coronavirus, and nobody has any straight answers. 

We don’t know how deadly it is, how many people really have it, when it’s going to be over… Nobody knows who to turn to or who to trust. 

You can be the person people turn to in your industry. Just turn on your webcam once a day and share strategies that are working for you clients. Share case studies of people who are making it through okay. Brainstorm ideas that other business owners can try. 

If you can be a voice of calm and a voice of certainty for your industry, you will be a breath of fresh air. 

Another thing you can do is write a newsletter. Compile the same information but in text form. Reach out to businesses in your industry, whether they’re your clients or not, and ask them what’s working. Ask them if they’ve tried anything new that they’re willing to share. 

Tell people that you want to bring business owners together to help each other weather the storm. By sharing ideas and strategies you can all make it through together. 

Put all of this information in a newsletter, and reach out to as many businesses as you can and offer to send it to them once a week for free. Just imagine how much goodwill you will have built up with potential clients when things go back to normal.

You can take this idea one step farther and organize a mastermind on Zoom. Get 5 or 10 business owners who are serious about helping each other and do a group call once a week. While we’re self-isolating, they’ll appreciate the opportunity to meet new people and talk in a group. 

And of course you can run multiple masterminds. Then take the best ideas from each session and put them in your newsletter for that week. 

The point is, most people are retreating. Literally and figuratively, most businesses are pulling back. They’re going to stop advertising, they’re going to stop running ads, and they’re going to stop trying new things. 

You can do the opposite. You can go on the offensive.

And most importantly, while most people are shrinking down, you can rise up. You can be the person that is providing guidance and reassurance. You can be the leader people are desperate for. 

And you can plant the seeds today that will blossom into success once things get back to normal. 

I hope this article has given you some ideas, and some hope too! Please leave a comment below with any questions you have. 

We’re in this together!

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