Sales: Targeting the real decision-maker

Talk to the brain! (Photo: DelosJ)

I’ve read a lot about the selling process and how to target the person who makes the final purchasing decision. The problem is that the approach may be all wrong. Instead of concentrating on a person, we should be focusing on a thing —  specifically, the brain.

I recently attended a CEO Global Network meeting — an organization providing peer to peer mentoring for CEOs. The guest speaker co-authored the book, Neuromarketing (Morin & Renvoise). Christophe Morin says at least 80% of business self-help books purchased or given out at conferences remain unopened on the shelf. After a couple hours with the author, I was convinced that this book would not be destined for the unopened faith. Let me provide some of highlights to hook your interest and demonstrate how you will need to change your sales approach to increase the probability of success.

The human brain is composed of three distinct components which evolve as we grow. The first or reptilian brain is present at birth and ultimately becomes the trigger in our decision-making process. The middle part of our brain develops and processes our emotions, while the outer part develops our ability to think. Research has shown that the reptilian brain will make the final decision by considering emotional and rational input from the other two components.

Morin and Renvoise’s research suggest that the brain reacts to six key stimuli. By mastering and re-engineering your selling proposal you will increase your probability of success. These stimuli include:

  1. It’s all about “me” – The brain is motivated by anything that pertains to itself. Presentations that spend too much time talking about your company and its products without focusing on what it will mean for a prospect will be wasted effort.
  2. Clear comparison – The brain is sensitive to comparisons that provide clear differentiation. By making a product claim that is a sharp contrast to the competitive product you have sped up the decision-making process.
  3. Concrete – The brain is stimulated by facts presented in a clear manner. The more thinking that has to go into the process, the slower the decision that gets made.
  4. Strong open/Powerful middle/Strong close – The brain is a very efficient machine with an embedded energy management system. It will look for ways of conserving energy by forgetting about details in the middle. In sales mode, MRI studies suggest that you need to have a strong opening, a simple but powerful middle and a strong close. The brain’s energy management system means you only have 10 minutes for the complete process. Your middle section should be constrained to three key messages.
  5. Stunning visuals – The reptilian brain is directly connected to the optic nerve. This means that of all your senses, sight has the most immediate and lasting impact on a decision making process. We’ve written in previous blogs about the importance of this item and how it relates to crisp and uncluttered PowerPoint charts (see here and here).
  6. Hook me emotionally – The brain recognizes over 16,ooo emotions which lead to chemical stimulations. It’s no surprise that the most memorable commercials are those that somehow play to our emotions including joy, trust, sadness, fear and anger.

These concepts are essentially the guiding principles of messaging. The neat part here is that we can tie the science of the brain to understand why it works the way it does.

Back to that ugly statistic on business books on the shelf: I can assure you that this is one of my books that is already highlighted, dog-eared and in active use.