Does a trip down a sales funnel leave you with the feeling of Deal or Duped?

Sports Supplements, Life Coaching, Software programs and endless other products are luring consumers to the precipice of their sales funnels. Once we jump in, we are taken through a whirlpool of offers, upgrades and cross-sells until we are finally spat out the other end drenched in product and struggling to find any cash left in our soaked wallets. As we dry off we may then be left wondering what we have agreed to, for how long and how much did it cost, let alone if it was still the good deal that actually drew us into the sales vortex to begin with. So, does this leave us with a feeling of getting a great deal or the feeling of being duped, let’s find out.

Scarcity Effect

Why do we jump into a sales funnel? Almost always it is an offer that may seems too good to be true attached to a deadline tactic. Toonly offered a one time fee of $67 for lifetime access to their software program usually worth $468 per annum, but the offer is for a limited time.

There are two factors working here according to Scarcity Theorist Robert Cialdini. Firstly, the low-price offer on the usually high-priced item preys “on our weaknesses for shortcuts” as we easily calculate that this is an excellent way to attain access to Toonly at a much lower cost. Secondly, Cialdini draws on Jack Brehm’s Psychology Reactance Theory that we want to keep our freedoms and when our access is limited to an item, “we will react against” this limitation “wanting and trying to possess the item more than before”. This is then further compounded by Daniel Kahneman’s Loss Aversion Theory stating that the pain of missing out on the deal is twice as strong as the pleasure of getting the deal, depicted in the graph below. So, it is the potential pain of missing out on this deal with a limited time attached that drives us to click on the ‘Learn more’ button … diving straight into the sales funnel.

Impulse Buying

Now we are in the sales funnel, we confidently click ‘BUY’ and innocently enter our credit card details. However, this is when the whirlpool starts turning and the upgrade offers and cross selling commence. More than just ‘would you like fries with that’, these offers include Premium Upgrades, access to more content database and other software to support Toonly. All offers are using the same scarcity tactic, discounted for a limited time and seem essential to support your success on Toonly. Now we have to make decisions immediately before clicking to the next page, greatly shortening the time to think through the purchase decision and buying far more on impulse, as stated in Hawkins Stern’s Impulse Buying Theory. For some of us the momentum could have us buying everything on offer as the sales funnel works it sales magic.

Great Deal or Buyer’s Remorse

In the three stages of the below purchase decision making model, once we come out of the sales funnel like all good consumers we evaluate the experience ‘Post purchase’, do we feel satisfied or dissatisfied.

Will we promote this good or service to our friends or are we regretting all or part of the experience and are feeling a level of ‘Buyer’s Remorse’, Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory.  Buyer Remorse may be worse due to a poor decision-making process. But it will be the on-going experience that will hopefully reduce buyer’ remorse over time. Loss aversion techniques are also used to offset buyer’s remorse, like Toonly’s money back guarantees according to Gul’s Theory of Disappointment Aversion. If you feel like you can get out of the purchase, then you feel less remorse about either making it or having made it.


Sales funnels seem to sell product, possibly more product than a consumer would buy in other circumstances. Consumers may feel they got a deal, but it seems more likely that consumers will experience some level of buyer’s remorse. As for deal or duped, duped is going to be the more common end feeling from the very nature of the limited decision-making process.  So, if we find ourselves in a sales funnel we need to keep calm and not buy too much, as we can probably still get the same offers later by just asking. Businesses using sales funnels to sell goods or services need to remember to offer great support after the purchase to assist customers in getting over any buyer’s remorse. None of us want to feel duped, but we all want a great deal!

Peter Oates

23rd July, 2019


Amir Heiman, David R. Just, Bruce McWilliams, and David Zilberman, August 2005 Draft Paper ‘Money-Back Guarantees and the Value of Decision Time: An Empirical Analysis’, Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, pp 8-12, pp 28-29

Cialdini R 2009, ‘Chapter 7: Scarcity: The Rule OF Few’, Influence – The Psychology Of Persuasion, First Collins Business Essentials Edition 2009, HarperCollins Publishers, USA. pp 182 – 187

Global Journal of Finance and Management. ISSN 0975-6477 Volume 6, Number 9 (2014), pp. 833-840 © Research India Publications

Gul, Faruk, 1991. “A Theory of Disappointment Aversion,” Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 667-686, May.

Loss Aversion Graph: Fun Retrospectives, undated, ‘Pleasure & Gain’,  Fun Retrospectives, retrieved 21 July 2019, <>

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Purchase Decision Making Model: Business Intelligence 254, undated, ‘Controlling consumer touchpoints desiging from the outside-in’, Business Intelligence 24, retrieved 21 July 2019, <;

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Toonly, J 2019, Toonly, retrieved 21 July, <;

Toonly Image: Facebook, retrieved 21 July 2019

Tsiotsou, Rodoula H. & Wirtz, Jochen, J 2015, ‘The Handbook of Service Business: Management, Marketing, Innovation and Internationalisation, Chapter: 7, The Three Stage Model Of Service Consumption’, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, retrieved 21 July 2019, <;

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