I wondered if I’d ever write one of these posts…
You know how it goes.
There’s the old saying that “sex sells.” And to a degree, that’s right. We’ve definitely been conditioned to buy things based on the promise of having more and better sex. Practically every product category under the sun has been spun in the direction of sex at one time or another.
And so marketers like me will occasionally try to use this to peddle unrelated business advice.
“Sex! Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about…” This is NOT one of those posts.
And then there’s the “seduction” community. You know the ones. The guys who make a living teaching other lonely guys how to pick up women.
That’s a big part of the “sex sells” business, too. And there are a handful of marketers and salespeople who will try to draw parallels between that and marketing, selling, and persuasion as well.
Again, there might be some parallels — but this is also NOT one of those posts, either.
Instead, I want to talk about sex and enthusiastic consent — and what the heck that has to do with your marketing…
I’ve recently been reading the book, Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D..
And frankly, it’s a really dang good book. And completely different than most of what you’ll read about sex.
It’s mostly written towards women who’ve been taught to hide their sexuality, who have been taught to be ashamed of themselves and their desires. (Spoiler alert: anybody who tells anybody they should be ashamed of their natural sexuality is an idiot and does far more harm than good, no matter their intentions.)
It’s actually a really good book about human sexuality in general. But I’m guessing it falls under the category of “know your market” and is written to women because women tend to be the biggest market for books on the topic.
But this isn’t a sex blog. So I should get on to telling you: it also has some rather profound insights into human motivations and desires. And how we respond to things that stimulate us.
There’s very little talk in the book about marketing (except when disparaging harmful media messages that you’re not good enough as you are).
But the lessons the book shares about desire are also useful in a selling context.
This is one of those messages that comes with a warning…
What I’m about to tell you gets down into the very deepest parts of our motivational systems in our brain.
It’s an incredibly powerful lesson that has been abused for centuries, to manipulate and control people.
But, it’s also crucial for you to understand if you want to motivate people to take actions that will lead them to enjoying a better, more fulfilled life.
Desire cuts both ways.
Use it for good.
If you ain’t gonna do that, scram.
Now: let’s talk about enthusiastic consent…
It’s one thing to try to scam, lie, or manipulate someone into doing something they don’t want to do, or are even hesitant about.
It’s another entirely to connect with someone based on a shared desire for an experience or outcome.
This applies to selling. You can be the sleazy salesperson who tries to sell folks things they don’t really want or need, but because you’re a great “closer” you feel great about hitting your sales quota. Or, you can truly connect with people based on providing a superior and desired solution, and simply introduce that to them in a way that they’re naturally excited about.
One requires brute force, it’s a numbers game, and it leaves people feeling a little gross after you’re gone. Call that win-lose. And it’s definitely not what I recommend.
The other leaves people feeling better off for the experience, and doesn’t eat away at your soul. Call it win-win. And it’s better for everyone — including you!
If you want to understand win-win, here’s what you need to know…
The key is in the “dual control” model…
Imagine, for a minute, a car.
It has an accelerator, and brakes.
In order for the car to drive where you want it to drive, you have to push down on the accelerator, and not push down on the brakes.
Human desires — including sex — are like that.
You have things that turn you on. You have things that turn you off.
Unlike a car, there’s usually at least a tiny bit of pressure on BOTH the accelerator and brakes.
But the key for someone to reach a point where they’re ready to act on their desire with enthusiastic consent is that they’re really pushing down on the accelerator, with little to no pressure on the brakes.
That means for someone to really want sex — or really, anything — they have to both want all the good feels that can come from it, without being caught up in the bad feels of it.
If they don’t want sex, it could be that they’re really not desiring it in that moment — there’s no pressure on the accelerator.
Or, it could be that a pile of stress is loaded up on their brake pedal, and even though they might be pushing on the accelerator, too, they’re still not going anywhere.
This is happening deep in the brain — in the NAC…
NAC is short for nucleus accumbens.
This is part of the reward system of nearly all animals’ brains, way down near the brain stem. It’s the brain structure where the feelings of being drawn toward or averted away from originate. It plays a role in addiction, and nurturing behavior, and food cravings, and more.
It’s also the location, in the brain, of the “Emotional one ring” — as described in the book.
These are the three emotions that, together, lead to actually acting on desire.
They are expecting, eagerness, and enjoying:
— Expecting… You expect or anticipate something will happen.
— Eagerness… You want for that something to happen, you’re eager for it.
— Enjoying… You like and enjoy what’s happening.
The more each of these is true, the more you will push on the accelerator and move toward this desire.
On the other hand, the opposite of each of these will trigger the brakes.
If you’re not expecting or anticipating an experience, it might actually cause a strong negative reaction when it happens — even if you’d want and enjoy it in other contexts.
If you don’t want it, you’ll want to stop it — even if you expect it and you’re having at least some good physical sensations.
Or if something about the experience is causing a dislike, you’ll want to stop it — even if you were expecting it and eager for it before the dislike or discomfort started.
Although I’m sure you’re thinking about this all in the context of sex, these same emotions contribute to all desire.
Anything desired gets pursued when expecting, eagerness, and enjoying line up…
When a couple is feeling anticipation for sex… When they want sex… And when diving into the experience of sex feels good…
They have great sex!
If one of those things does not line up, either they end up having bad sex, or no sex at all.
The same thing happens in selling!
In order for your prospect to desire to move forward with a purchase, they have to expect a positive result… They have to be eager for and want that result in their life… And they have to like the experience of getting the result.
Some of this can be cultivated with your marketing or selling message. Some of it has to be built into the business and the offer. Some of it — as Eugene Schwartz emphasized — has to already be in the prospect themselves.
Your role in selling is ethical seduction…
What the heck is ethical seduction?
Well, let’s imagine for a minute that there’s someone who has a desire. And they’re looking to fulfill that desire.
That desire is made up of those three components of the emotional one ring. They have expectations, they’re eager, and they’re looking for the enjoyment of fulfilling that desire.
Your role as the “seducer” then is to show them how you’ll be able to meet those expectations… To channel their eagerness and wanting toward you… And to make sure they’re satisfied.
Your role is to help them push down that accelerator, and relieve them of any insecurities or obstacles that have them unnecessarily holding down the brakes. (While also acknowledging that for some prospects, laying off the accelerator and holding down the brakes is what they most need today.)
If you fall down on any of these, you’ll end up creating dissatisfaction.
But if you do this right, every sale you make will be one of enthusiastic consent, and everyone will leave satisfied! 😉
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
PS — A special thanks to those of you who grabbed a copy of The Ultimate Selling Story after my email this morning. Thanks to you, we’ve cracked the Direct Marketing Top 10 in the Kindle store (#8), and we’re getting close with a #12 ranking in all Direct Marketing books on Amazon. The reviews are also starting to come in (so far a couple 5-star ratings) and you can leave yours here. Thanks again for being a reader!