We often frame what’s at stake in terms of what a listener can gain. Flip it round, and you can focus on what the audience or customer will lose if they’re not successful. John McClane in Die Hard has to foil the terrorists but his true motivation is to avoid his own death. He’s not Rambo or the Terminator, but a man who just wants to patch things up over Christmas with his estranged wide.
People are often motivated to avoid loss more than they are by gain. Try this test. Imagine how bad you would feel if you lost one million euros from your back pocket. Take some seconds to feel the pain, fear, anxiety and sadness. Now imagine what you would feel if you found a million. Elation, joy and happiness would all be in the mix. But do the good feelings outweigh the bad? For most people, they won’t.
Telling clients what they can miss out on is an effective, if occasionally dangerous, tactic. I recommend that if you mention failure (the loss) you make it clear how you help people avoid it (and gain success).