It may seem obvious to say, but it’s important to point out that at the core of any business transaction is two living, breathing, feeling human beings. Both buyer and seller, boss and employee, or client and provider are driven by the emotions, biases, and functions of their brains — of which they probably are not even aware.
Becoming knowledgeable about how your and others’ brains work can help you understand what drives motivation and action, how to build trust, the decision-making process, and how communication happens — with words, and body language — which can ultimately, help you succeed in sales or any profession.
Read on to see what you need to know.
The Neurochemicals Involved in the Sales Process
Thanks to neuroscience advances, we now know exactly what chemicals are invoked at what point in the sales process. According to the article, Neuroscience and Sales: How to Increase Prospects Engagement with Psychology, below are the brain chemicals activated and when:
- Dopamine. A hugely powerful neurotransmitter that, apart from other things, is responsible for addictions. However, your brain releases it also when you encounter people who you feel generally care about you. So, when writing sales proposal introductions, include information that will make the prospect feel this way to stimulate the release of dopamine.
- Cortisol. We produce this chemical when feeling stress or fear. Its release often results in shutting down the rational brain and acting on impulse. You can stimulate it by speaking about the main problem or pain point your solution targets.
- Endorphins and Dopamine. Endorphins counterbalance cortisol. They stop us from feeling pain or discomfort. If you present your solution as the best counterbalance to the problem, your prospect’s brain should release endorphins to reduce the perception of fear and make them feel better.
- Serotonin and Oxytocin. The first chemical makes us feel happy; the other motivates reciprocation. Targeting both with a call to action could help elicit a positive response from prospects.
Brains Are Driven by Emotion
Whether you know it or not, our amygdalas control a lot of our behavior and decisions. The amygdala is an ancient limbic system structure primarily responsible for processing memory, decision-making, motivation, and emotional reactions. Your amygdala acts as your brain’s threat radar and alarm.
You may have heard the saying “we decide on emotion and justify with logic.” Research proves that true. Even when we think we are making logical decisions based on information, we have free will and almost always choose based on emotion. People buy based on emotion and then justify it with facts and logic.
So, when you are trying to motivate and incent people to act and make decisions, you want to appeal to their emotions. There are several ways to do this:
Use Visual Images – You can activate people’s emotions by using self-explanatory, relatable, emotion-evoking pictures and videos in your presentations, in your proposals, and on your website. This is why you see pictures of cute puppies and kittens, happy families, or a silhouetted couple holding hands in marketing materials.
Tell Stories – Use testimonials from real customer successes and positive experiences to appeal to other customers. videos on your website of your best customers telling the stories of how you and your company helped them solve a problem or meet a need. According to science, people’s brains release oxytocin when they hear and are engaged in others’ stories. According to this article, solid stats only activate two language regions of our brains. Stories, on the other hand, fire up five additional regions. This also works because brains like conformity.
Use the Element of Surprise – Brains remember anything unique, surprising, or out of the norm much more than just normal product information and facts and figures. For this reason, it can be beneficial to develop a USP (unique selling prospect) for your company. Find a unique aspect of your service or product and emphasize it or promote or pair an important concept with an unexpected analogy or image.
Our Brains Move Away from Fear and Towards Pleasure
Because its first priority is always survival, your brain is wired to move away from danger and towards pleasure. Those motivating forces; staying away from pain and moving towards reward are fundamental motivational drivers as of all human behavior.
So a really powerful way to start a conversation early in the sales process is to find out the customers’ problems and challenges. In other words, what do they want to move away from? You may have heard this referred to as their “pain point.” Try to determine the impact on their business or themselves as an individual and how can you help them move from a place of discomfort or dissatisfaction to a place of satisfaction comfort happiness etc., by solving that problem for them. Then, you will want to talk to them about what a good solution might look like and how you can provide that.
There are two types of problems a customer can have, positive and negative. A negative problem is where there is a standard of performance or a need not being met. There is also a positive kind of problem that can be solved by showing the customer a better way or solution that they may have not been aware of. Both can move their brains towards pleasure and trigger the buying process.
It’s no surprise that gaining the trust of prospects is a vital element of success in sales — in every business relationship really. While you may think of trust-building as a social process, it’s just as much a neurological one in the brain.
The hormone and neurochemical referenced above, oxytocin, is central to establishing trust and connecting emotions in any relationship, including business. In one experiment, researchers showed that increased oxytocin in the brain reduces the fear of trusting a stranger — an example of moving away from pain and towards pleasure. Science shows that increased oxytocin in the brain is associated with greater relaxation, more willingness to trust others, and psychological stability. So, increasing a client’s oxytocin is key to establishing trust. Some ways to do that are:
Establish Credibility – Make your client feel comfortable. Provide hard reliable information and data and establish yourself as an expert. Credibility reduces the fear that humans are naturally prone to develop in unfamiliar situations.
Show Empathy – Be attentive to and show genuine concern in your client. Ask about their needs, problems, and goals. Then really listen. Remember buying is an emotional decision. Customers don’t buy from people when they don’t feel heard. Be personable. Don’t deliver a memorized sales pitch. Have the basic key points in your memory to draw upon, but make it an interactive exchange. Step in their shoes, be truthful and honest, build connections, allow the prospect to talk and explain themselves, and listen.
Body Language Is Communication Too – Your nonverbal communication is just as crucial as your verbal communication. Scientific studies confirm that body language is important when it comes to forming relationships — first impressions, forming new relationships, and maintaining old ones.
- Make eye contact but not too much. Research shows seven to ten seconds is normal.
- Lean a little forward when speaking.
- Slow down your speech and speak with expression, but again, not too much.
- Use the person’s name and mirror the words, phrases, or industry terminology they use.
Is Neuromarketing Ethical?
What we are talking about here is often called neuromarketing or consumer psychology. These terms basically refer to using an understanding of how the human brain works to more effectively market products and services.
Let’s be clear. I am not talking about anything unethical or subliminal here. While there certainly are valid ethical concerns, using neuroscience can never take away a person’s free will. There is not a “buy button” in the brain that neuroscience can tell us how to flip.
Neuromarketing is really just a natural extension of existing methods — such as brain imaging, or measuring physiology such as hormones or perspiration — that complements classic marketing methods, such as surveys, interviews, and ethnography that have been done all along.
Furthermore, in well-directed studies, the people who participate give their overt, informed consent and agree that the data gathered in the study can be used in specific ways. With such protection in place, this kind of data gathering is really no different ethically from participating in a focus group.
Fueling consumerism as consumer debt rises is a valid ethical concern. Simply put, every form of marketing is — to a certain extent — a similar way of subconscious influencing. Every argument against neuromarketing is thus an argument against marketing in general. It’s not really about what neuromarketing does, but what researchers, marketers, and politicians do with the information it produces.
Selling and marketing have become about psychology as much as they are about strategy, goals, and numbers. Today selling is closer to science than art. The neuroscience of today can tell you a great deal about how to be a better salesperson by understanding how the brain operates and makes decisions. Understanding your brain can improve every aspect of your life from being a more effective leader to having more meaningful relationships.
This post was first mentioned in the Authoritti5.0 Magazine