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Neuro-selling: What’s Going On Inside The Buyer’s Brain?

May 14th, 2012 Kevin

Is it really all about the reptile brain?

You may have heard that buying decisions are driven by our “reptile brains.” While this idea is not completely accurate it is a helpful way to think about the brain, particularly the nonconscious parts. Have you heard of neuromarketing? Spell check no longer marks it in error. Not so neuroselling… here it comes.

Top 10 List of Neuroselling Tactics and Strategies

1. The buyer’s brain leans either toward your sale or away from it during every single split second.

Brains scan environments for threats about every 1/5 of a second. Because selling can be threatening it pays to work hard and create positive conditions. That way the buyer will lean toward your product or service instead of away from it. “Great sales people are always on” because it only takes 1/5 of a second to blow the deal.

So what? Stay on. Your sales cycle is every 1/5 of a second, your goal is to get the buyer’s brain to lean towards your offer, and your risk is that you trigger a threat response. Reduce your threatening behavior by seeking permission, building rapport and trust, expressing solutions, and remaining patient, among other things.

2. The wiring of the buyer’s brain and not the consciousness of his or her mind drive motivations.

Nothing new here. Brains wire to seek gain and avoid pain. That happens in the context of the need for mastery, affiliation, autonomy, and purpose. Fringe motivations include control, power, and risk-taking. Because brains bias toward avoiding pain, pain-focused needs are more common than gain-focused ones. Sell to them.

So what? Get to know the buyer’s motivations. Does he or she light up at the idea of reducing pain? Or tell more stories about gain? Depending on what motivates him or her, help him or her feel the pain or gain and connect your product and service with ridding the pain or increasing the gain as they think of those sensations.

3. Emotions are the building blocks of the buyer’s motivations.

The conscious mind rarely knows the origin of its own motivations. This is particularly true with urges and impulse buys. Many people buy based on an emotional response that flies under the radar of conscious thought, at the subconscious level. This is why feelings can often power decisions that leave rational thought in the dust.

So what? Trigger emotional responses as you sell your product or service. Make those responses align with the buyer’s motivations. Be careful not to trigger the wrong emotion because that will cause the buyer to lean away from, and not toward, your product or service. Watch the buyer’s face and tone to pick up the emotional cues.

4. The brain hates to process too much, too soon.

You know that saying, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach?” Well, the mind’s appetite for information is bigger than the brain’s ability to handle all of it. Researchers used to think we could handle up to seven things at once in short term memory. They’ve revised the number down to three or four at most (and one is a contender).

So what? Connect what’s in the buyer’s brain to what you offer. Avoid numbers, abstract concepts, or time-related issues with choices. Give the brain what it wants now, in simple terms, using a clear call to action. Offer metaphors to frame your product or service and if the buyer has a favorite metaphor or two, use them.

5. Help guide the buyer’s attention.

The brain leans in or out in part to avoid attending to unnecessary things. Attention is a critically precious commodity today and it turns out we do not multi-task, we time share. This means when the buyer is not paying attention, he or she is not following your sales process.

So what? Make sure you have the buyer’s eyes and ears. The dead giveaway for where attention lands is where the buyer focuses his or her eyes and ears. Use movements that keep eyes on target, and make sounds that help ears stay where they belong too. Choose places with less distraction and offer relevant information only.

6. Connect your product or service to the buyer’s past associations.

The brain pays most attention to the past. It leans toward or away from things based on how it calculates what happened in the past. That’s why most people reject new things until they can assess them from a familiar perspective. This is also why most folks need to experience things seven times or so before they finally “get it.”

So what? Make what you sell appear familiar. Analogies help, for example, use words including “like,” “similar,” and “same” that help compare your product or service with things the buyer already understands.

7. Connect the buyer’s need for instant gratification with your product or service.

The urge to take a pill before building a skill is the reason instant gratification is king. Some people will remove pounds surgically before working them off with sweat equity. The majority of the brain’s functions serve the interests of “now” instead of hoping for mid term or long terms gains. Connect now; sell more.

So what? Make success clear with stories, customer testimonials, and a proven track record. Frame and orient the buyer’s mind so that your product fits the buyer’s current and pressing needs. Help the buyer imagine himself or herself with your product or service in hand, already receiving its benefits.

8. Primacy (first) and recency (last) make a huge difference.

“First impressions count.” You bet, particularly with the brain. It tires and bores easily and is designed to conclude the buyer is fine and needs nothing that you offer. How we begin and end anything alters everything.

So what? Anchor the most important part of your sale first (use a story, metaphor, or sensory explanation). Orient and frame the buyer’s brain quickly. Repeat your message with a call to action at the end. Use the buyer’s own metaphors and language to remind him or her of the opportunity you offer to him or her.

9. Make it visual.

The buyer’s brain processes images faster than written or verbal messages. It also has a more expansive network of visual associations than other sensory associations and tends to categorize and separate out visual cues far more rapidly than other sensory messages like sound, taste, touch, or smell (bad smells aside).

So what? Look good, first of all. Second, draw what success looks like when the buyer uses your product or service. Make the drawing literally with pen and paper. Or, explain it visually in a way that the buyer can see with his or her mind’s eye. Let your buyer see the benefit you offer to get him or her much closer to closing the deal.

10. During the close compare prices and establish value.

The brain experiences “pain” when prices seem unfair. For the brain, price fairness depends on, and really demands, a comparison. For example, instead of offering one set price, frame the price in ways that help the buyer understand the price’s fairness as well as its value. Never offer your price without a context for it.

So what? Offer the price of your product or service compared to a normal price, or to a discount for some reason, or explain how the price is 10% below market. Help the buyer clarify the relative price and emphasize its value. This means you may bundle things together, offer things in increments, or offer payment plans.

Summary: reduce threats as you frame the buyer’s instant success.

Brains avoid harm at all costs. As a matter of fact, social and mental harm fires up the same regions in our brains as physical pain does. Instead of harm, offer success and know that the brain wants success now! If you threaten the buyer the chance of blowing your sale goes way up. Instead, build a protective feeling with rapport and trust. Use affirmative, positive, and protective stories, metaphors, and words that encourage positive familiarity with your service or product. Choose to mirror the customers words, movements, emotions and sensory experiences to help build rapport. Gain trust by reducing threats as you show how your product or service meets the buyer’s needs, solves his or her problems, and ramps up his or her opportunities.

Do these things and watch your close rates skyrocket. Remember, it’s all about emotional ties, the buyer’s ability to pay, and his or her willingness to do so. These things are qualifications that the buyer’s brain is ready, willing, and able. Now, go forth and win over not just their hearts and minds, but also and most importantly, win over their brains.

I wish you the best of luck.


Kevin Leahy


Austin, Texas

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