Part of the literature dedicated to sales techniques is aimed at promoting a presentation of the product or service offer geared towards the customer and his or her needs.

We have learned to create pitches based on the value provided rather than on the supplier’s history, size or achievements. We have understood how to make ourselves heard by our customers and prospects. In a world of uncertain contours, we have redoubled our efforts to attract the attention of our interlocutors. More rarely do we ask ourselves whether our communication is aimed at the « right brain ».

The human brain is organised in 3 parts forming a whole:

  • The reptilian brain is the centre of our instinct, of our primary behaviour (survival and preservation instinct) and ensures our basic motor needs. It is involved in a limited number of cognitive functions such as attention, fear or the prospect of reward or vital functions. The brain’s responses are binary, immediate and comparable to those taken in an identical context,
  • The paleo-mammalian brain, or limbic brain, is the centre of emotions and long-term memory. As part of the decision-making process, it controls and validates the reasoned choices coming from the cortex by associating the dynamics of motivation, satisfaction, memories of success or failure,
  • The neo-mammalian brain, or neocortex, is the centre of reasoning, understanding, logic and consciousness. It is responsible for processing rational data and sharing its findings with the other two brains.

Any new situation is handled by the reptilian brain. Its first reaction is to ask itself whether it involves danger, whether to fight or flee. If it does not perceive a specific threat, it puts itself in a state of semi-sleep unless, here is the critical point, its curiosity is sharpened, all the more so if it is associated with the prospect of a reward.

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The reptilian brain is at the heart of the purchasing process, as long as it is interested. To achieve this, 7 techniques can be used:

  • Talking to the prospect about the difficulties he is encountering. If we have previously seen that the reptilian brain is sensitive to the notion of pleasure, it is even more motivated by the desire to avoid pain and discomfort. Many sales methods emphasise this point: there is no point in pitching until you have identified the point or points of greatest pain,
  • Since the reptilian brain is responsible for survival, its favourite subject is itself. Even if we have to repeat the same thing over and over again, it is our ability to talk to our client about his problems, his daily life, what he could do to ensure his survival or improve his daily life that will be decisive in his willingness to work with you,
  • The reptilian brain is not the champion of subtlety. Its binary decision-making process also means that the information it is fed with must be clear and unequivocal. Its representation of the benefits it can expect must contrast sharply with the situation where it does nothing, or where it turns to another provider,
  • The reptilian brain is not the champion of language. It understands only a few words at a time but, on the other hand, is very sensitive to information communicated to it by the optic nerve. Its interest is sharpened by short messages, simple, colourful, structured graphic representations devoid of computational logic. To put it simply, faced with a presentation covered with bullet points and tables, combined with monotonous and complicated speech, the reptilian brain will consider running away as the best option, and falling asleep as an alternative,
  • Because its main objective is survival, because it must remain alert and aware of its environment in the broadest sense, the reptilian brain avoids focusing its attention on one point for too long. Faced with a speech, it will be attentive at the beginning and the end but will pay little attention to everything in between. You’ve experienced it dozens of times: from the moment you say the magic words « in conclusion », everyone gets back in their seats. In order to make the most of it, the critical information you want to share must therefore be part of the introduction and be taken up again at the conclusion, with the emphasis on the comfort provided by the recommended solution,
  • As we have seen, the reptilian brain is not at ease with big speeches. The same is true with complex and convoluted propositions. In order to make a clear-cut decision, it is best to keep the limbic brain and the neo-cortex out of the discussion. The proposal should be simple, clear, imaginative, and make it clear what you are offering, why it is the best choice. The use of simple and easily visualised metaphors also proves effective and it should be noted that most sales representatives and prospects use them naturally (« I want to buy a car that gets me from point A to point B and for that I don’t need the Rolls Royce you are offering me »),
  • The reptilian brain is finally sensitive to emotions, even more so to those that are negative because they increase its level of alert. In so far as they help the prospect to measure the benefits that are presented to him, images with a strong emotional side are effective because they give the reptilian brain the ability to identify with a given situation. Terry Boyland, CEO of CPQI Group once showed me the image he uses in some sales presentations. They show a crocodile with its mouth wide open, letting a bird clean its teeth. This picture comes as a shock. It is a very good opening to address the themes of danger but also of collaboration, partnership. Foremost, it creates a reaction that makes the listeners extremely attentive and concentrated. Having used it, I can testify that it works wonderfully.
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In conclusion, the effectiveness of any sales approach depends on the ability of the salesperson to keep the reptilian brain awake. It is by targeting the painful points, by presenting in a simple manner an offer that is short, easily understandable, visually attractive and contrasted that we give ourselves the best chances of coaxing this animal that governs each of us.

This article can also be found on LinkedIn.