Triggers: Summary & Review

triggers book cover

Triggers apply principles of direct marketing to the field of personal selling through 30 techniques that Sugarman calls “psychological triggers.”

3 Sentences Summary

  • Link your product to a fad, make it go viral, and ride the free publicity to success
  • If your product is new, or complex, link it to something simple 
  • Give complex-sounding explanations, you’ll see an expert and people will yield to you

Triggers Summary

Joseph Sugarman collects 30 different triggers to compel customers to take action.
Here I will summarize the ones that seemed most relevant to me.

Emotional Needs

Sugarman says that emotional needs are the most important drivers in determining buying behavior.
Your goal is to find out what emotional needs your target audience has and pander to them.

Objections First

If you know that your product or your prospect is almost certain to raise a certain objection, say it yourself FIRST.

Note: make sure the customer knew or was going to notice about it, otherwise you raise a red flag the customer wasn’t even gonna consider.

A house with a busy road behind: mention it first and then say for example that it means easy access to the road and safety.

Involvement in the Product (physical or emotional)

Let me the product touch, disassemble, or try the product. He will get more emotionally invested in it.


Authority is another hugely important aspect of persuasion (also read Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Get to Yes)

People love to do business with people with authority. Showcase yours. Hang diplomas on the wall, put certificates on your desk, preface your name with a title, etc.

Prove Your Value

People want to know they’re making good use of their money. You can make a comparison with similar products with similar prices and showcase your products’ advantages.


If you give a complicated-sounding explanation people will think you’re an expert -a credible person- and will more easily yield to your opinion.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Offering a guarantee is a powerful way to address last-minute resistance. People will believe your product is really good if you can offer a guarantee of a refund.

Link to Fads

Link your product to fads for free publicity.


  1. When feminism was a new thing, a ski resort banned women from driving snowmobiles and issued a press release: it went viral. Sales skyrocketed.
  2. The Viagra fad made a huge boon of an article humorously talking about the “baby boom”. And a huge boon to the sunglasses the author was sold advertising them as “helping with Viagra side effects” (i.e.: blurry vision, blue colors, etc.)

Link to Easy

Link your product to something that is easy to identify for the prospect.
For example, a “smoke detector” when it first came out was presented as an “electronic nose for your safety”.


Keep your offer simple. Only after he’s a customer you can pitch complications.

Instill a Sense of Guilt

This leverage Cialdini’s principle of reciprocity as explained in Influence.

Make the customer feel guilty about the gift, effort spent, paying something, and adding value to his life. The prospect will feel “forced” to give back… By buying your product.

Be specific

Be specific to sound more credible.


If I say, “New dentists everywhere use and recommend CapSnap Toothpaste,” it sounds like typical advertising lingo — puffery designed to sell a product.
It’s so general that it will probably cause a prospect to discount the statement you have just made and maybe everything else you say.
But if I say, “92% of new dentists use and recommend CapSnap Toothpaste” it’s immediately more credible.

Also read: How to Lie With Statistics.


People go by default to things and people they are familiar with.
Make your name popular in the industry so that when they need something, they think of you!

Make love to your prospect

You want your prospect to understand and agree with your statements.

Make sure that everything you do and say is in perfect agreement with the prospect as you slowly and almost hypnotically get closer to concluding the sale.
You want your prospects to keep nodding their heads, saying “yes,” all the way through to the final question, “May I have your order?”

triggers book cover


No copy-writing examples
If you were looking for a book to teach you step-by-step copywriting, Triggers by Joseph Sugarman is not that kind of book.

Not for Relationship Sales
At times it feels like the author is presenting a collection of tricks on how to manipulate people, media, and the public discourse to sell more. This can be effective for smaller ticket items, but not so much so for more complex sales.

Triggers Review

Joseph Sugarman summarizes many of the basic selling triggers and does so in an entertaining and easy-to-digest way.

It might be more suited for print and copywriting than for professional salespeople, but definitely, there’s a certain overlap between the two.

If you’re into improving your copy skills, Joseph Sugarman is a master copywriter, so you can actually learn simply by reading his stuff.
The last chapter indeed, “make love to your prospect”, is a great example of suspense, and you will remember it for years to come ;).

Get the Book on Amazon

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top