What makes people buy from you?
Nine out of ten sales people will answer that question logically: “Mike, when it comes to big-ticket sales, people are motivated by intellect, logic and reason.” Wrong. Intellect, logic and reason substantiate the decision, but the real decision is based on an emotional connection.
Chuckle. I can hear some of you guffaw and scoff. “Mike, you don’t get it. We work in a world of numbers and probabilities, not some warm and fuzzy fantasyland.” Absolutely true. Unfortunately, your target market’s brain does not live in that world. So, every time you deliver a logical, rational presentation, you’re shooting at the wrong target. No matter what product or service you’re selling, if your target market is made up of people – they all make decisions in the same part of their brain. And, it is NOT the part that deals with intellect, logic or reason.
It’s emotion, not reason, that powers our decisions to act.
All of your emotions are rooted in the same part of a part of the brain. It’s called the limbic system. You might think of it as the center for self-preservation. This is where you sense emotional attachments, such as trust, fear and loyalty. It’s where your stress reactions are determined, such as fight, flight or freeze. It’s the part of your brain that determines whether something is important to you. It is the most important part of your brain, because it’s where motivation takes place.
This little part of your brain determines if your prospect is going to feel safe with you, like you and begin to trust you. In other words, the limbic system determines if that person is going to take action or not, and if that action is going to be toward you or away from you. Reality is, if I’m your prospect, I could comprehend your logic and numbers – I could believe them as facts – and still not trust you.
One Big Wrong! Nearly every sales person I’ve spoken with over the past 25 years has believed that people have a choice; they can trust their intellect or their emotions. That’s wrong, but if you buy into that, you will erroneously think that your job is to convince the prospect to rely on intellect. “Mike, you don’t get it. If I give a good enough argument, they’ll buy my product.”
Again, wrong. The human brain is hardwired to give emotions the upper hand. Being “hardwired” means we have no choice in the matter. Emotions rule. And, the ramifications of this little factoid are mind-boggling.
Several years ago, I was teaching a class at the top producer conference for a major financial company. As I began to explain the steps necessary for connecting to a prospect’s emotions, a person in the front raised his hand. When I acknowledged him, he said, “I don’t see the point. Isn’t doing that being untrue to myself?”
It was a terrific question, but I was not sure he would understand the answer. If your true self means ignoring the prospect’s needs…if your true self means ignoring the science…if your true self means bulldozing the prospect – then, none of this makes any difference. But, on the other hand, if the quality of the interaction is important to you…if the result is important to you – then this scientific stuff becomes immediately vital.
Here are the scientific facts:
Although, sales people tend to rely on words and numbers, logic and reasoning to gain new clients, the limbic brain has zero capacity for those things. In other words, no amount of information can motivate someone to trust you, hire you or buy from you. “Yeah, but listen Mike, you don’t get it. The financial world is made up of numbers…”
Information (such as words and numbers) is processed in a totally different part of the brain (the neo-cortex). In humans, that part is involved in sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought and language. None of that can drive decisions and behavior. It’s the limbic brain that initiates the human “call to action.”
Fact is, for years, neuroscientists have studied brain activity patterns to understand how the human brain works. Scientists agree: When taking action, people quickly reach conclusions based on emotional reactions, then find facts later to support what they’ve already decided. They find information to substantiate and defend the decisions they’ve already made.
What that means for you:
• Every time you deliver a seminar based mainly on logic, you’re sabotaging your efforts.
• Every time you fail to show or speak in word pictures, you’re sabotaging your efforts.
• Every time you describe how a product works, you’re sabotaging your efforts.
• Every time you rely on facts and data, you’re sabotaging your efforts.
How can you use this?
Understand the real objective. Many sales people have a mental checklist that guides them in their presentations. Consider changing that to a two-column scorecard. One column contains a list of the prospect’s specific “points of pain.” The other column contains his “points of connection and comfort.” That’s a tool for you to use, NOT one for you to share with your prospect.
Remember, when you first meet the prospect, you are still a potential danger to him or her. You need to prove that you’re safe. The safer you show yourself, the greater the probability that person will discover an emotional connection with you. In other words, the person will begin to sense that you are not a saber-tooth tiger in advisor’s clothing.
Question: if the limbic system doesn’t deal with information, how can you get your points across? Simply learn to use some tools that help you create mental pictures in the mind of your prospect. Here are a few:
This is likely the most important way to connect to someone’s emotions. Consider how people take meaning from stories. They relate to the good guy, the bad guy, the obstacle or danger, the effort and the achievement. Because they relate to the elements, familiarity is developed. Familiarity develops into likeability, and likeability is directly linked to trust.
More important. If they cannot relate to the elements, all bets are off. And if you cannot communicate the story in a way that is visual to the prospect, all bets are off. That’s because the prospect will sense that he does not understand what you said. That means confusion, and confused people feel unsafe, and also say No.
Picture an abstract reference. How you tell the story is the key to using it to connect with the other person. The story is verbal, but it must be told in visual language. Can you picture an abstract statement? No. Can you picture one person showing a snow-capped mountain to someone else? Yes. In other words, your job is to turn all abstract, intangible information into concrete, visual language.
Throughout history, people have shared metaphorical stories. The Bible is filled with them. Political positions are rooted in them. They are effective because people tend to swallow the entire metaphor, not just parts of it.
What does it look like? Here’s an example. One of the common considerations in a purchase is fees. How might you use fees as a powerful ally? For example, would your prospect want to hear you say, “Mike, we need to remain vigilant in our monitoring of fees?” Huh, no picture, so you’re starting to look dangerous.
A much better way to address fees and build an emotional connection would be like this: “Fees can sneak up like an enemy in the night to rob you. So, my job is to act like a Marine on guard duty, protecting you from that enemy.” Plenty of visuals, me like.
Picture yourself delivering a seminar. You stand on the stage and hold your hands like you’re going to catch a basketball at belt level. Your palms are out and your hands spread. You say, “When I was five years old, I loved to bring tea and toast to my grandmother. I’ve been devoted to helping people ever since.” Is that different from crossing your arms and saying, “The product I’m showing you has revolutionized the business world?”
See the difference? The basketball pose communicates that you are safe. It shows that you carry no weapons, that you are open and confident enough to expose your heart. The crossed-arms pose is often a closed posture, denying any closer connection. Which pose would your prospect feel more (unconsciously) comfortable and safe with?
In the world of modern neuroscience, researchers use sophisticated technology to pinpoint where decisions are made in the brain. They literally take the guess-work and opinion out of the question: how do people make decisions. I’ve been following this field closely for years, so I can tell you that researchers agree. The source of decisions is NOT in the intellect, logic and reason. Decisions are rooted in the limbic system – the emotions.
Special thanks to Michael Lovus for this contribution.Published in