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February 08, 2024

How to Win with Framing

Our response to fear has never left us, our primal brains still overreact to fear of loss.

This overreaction in the brain prevents us from thinking straight.

A client will generally have to think a little bit longer about what they will gain from your proposal, but they will understand what they stand to lose
far more quickly.

It’s as if they can’t help themselves.

But Loss aversion effect works both ways: you can also use it to control a prospect’s attention.

Here are some examples of the loss aversion effect in play:

  • When properties are auctioned, as a bidder starts to bid on the property and a competitive bidder joins, you will often see the first bidder quickly increase their bids as they don’t want to miss out.

  • A car salesman offers you a deal that they say is a one time offer which will be withdrawn you if you leave the dealership. So now you don’t want to lose the deal.

  • We tend to hoard things that we don’t need for years, yet we won’t throw them out.


A study conducted by the University of California, Santa Cruz involved salespeople from a power company selling free energy audits to home owners.

Half of the owners were told ‘If you insulate your home, you’ll save X dollars per day’.

The pitch was reversed for the other half who were told ‘If you don’t insulate your home you will lose X dollars per day’.

Both of these statements are the same, yet the ones that were told that they would lose were more motivated to take action.

The takeaway for sales people: when presenting, show how your solution will prevent losses, then present what a prospect stands to gain.

In negotiation this is called framing. It’s important that you frame your numbers in a way that the client understands the potential loss more than the potential gain, especially when summarising at the end.