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Bonus Focus - The Truth Behind the Neuroscience of the Sales Process

By Todd Zaugg

You may have heard the buzz about gaining a competitive advantage by understanding the neuroscience of selling, but what does that really mean?

We know that there is more scientific data available now than we’ve ever had before regarding human interaction and human decision-making. In fact, scientists are writing software to help analyze these bits of information to make it into something usable for the marketers and sales teams. But software doesn’t engage in an actual live conversation with a prospect or customer, and it’s those interactions that can make or break your revenue. So, how can understanding neuroscience help you increase the propensity for success?

Let’s start with the basics. Neuroscience is defined as any or all of the sciences, such as neurochemistry and experimental psychology, which deal with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain.

According to research, 95 percent of all thoughts, emotions and learning occur before we are even aware of it. This is why neuroscience has emerged as a powerful tool in sales and marketing. The research of the brain has branched off into areas of study that focus on cognitive and sensory science, which measures a person’s response to products and studies how consumers decide to make a purchase. Simply put, emotions play a big role in customer decision making and companies that use brain science research can engage and serve their customers more effectively.

Roger Dooley, author of the book Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing, says despite research showing that emotion plays a big role in final decision-making, most marketing efforts still target the rational, conscious mind instead of the powerful subconscious.

Neuroscience uses techniques such as brain scanning, brainwave measurement and eye tracking. Using this approach in sales and marketing is proving helpful by giving sales reps a deeper understanding of who their target audience is, and what they need to be successful.

Training your team on knowing the brand and product that you are selling isn’t enough. In fact, this is the first sign that your training is outdated. It’s invaluable to train them on how a customer will behave and how to react to that behavior to turn average sales performances into superior ones.

According to a paper published by the American Marketing Association, five “Neuro-Lessons’ to remember in sales and marketing are:

• Most processing in the human brain occurs subconsciously.
• Most of this subconscious processing is emotional and not necessarily logical.
• Subconscious processes have a significant effect on attitudes, decisions and behaviors.
• Subconscious processes do not control us entirely.
• Consumers cannot tell you about these influences because they are unaware of them.

While the customer may not be completely aware of the subconscious pushing them one way or another in making business decisions, imagine the advantage to the sales rep who is completely aware of the drivers to turn a no into a yes just by understanding that sometimes a decision will be made more on the basis of intuition over true understanding, reason and analysis. Human decision-making requires both an emotional and rational filter but if you can’t win the emotional filter you will very rarely get a shot at helping them rationalize their purchase.

Now, experts in neuroscience stress that sales and marketing can’t ignore a more effective strategy, which is to focus on the psychology of the experience. This requires more research on the customer. What are they saying through social media? How do they feel about certain topics and issues? What is their emotional reference point? This means focusing on your approach, building trust and essentially finding the path that will make the ‘emotional’ connection needed to make the sale.

We must also recognize that the prospect or customer is not alone in the sales process. Understanding the neuroscience of the salesperson is equally important. What is their natural response to a sales challenge? Are they able to handle added stress and stick to their sales strategy or does emotion derail the meeting?

From our research on 11,000 sales people, which is highlighted in the book Warrior Sales Monk, we understand that simple stress relievers include preparation that induces clarity of mission, i.e. “I believe in what I’m selling,” “call objective” and “visualize the “what if scenarios.” Much of the salesperson’s ability to be successful will manifest itself by hiring the right talent and then providing ongoing coaching. Simply training a salesperson on the benefits of the product or service they are representing is only one aspect of the sales model. Yes, that message is critical, but the process and mentality of the delivery are also vital to success.

This process above is dramatically oversimplified, but in short when synthesizing and simplifying the neuroscience of selling, the overall goal is to understand the customer’s current emotional reference point related to your solution and then “Gain their Interest, Gain their Trust.”

Todd Zaugg is the founder of Matrix Achievement Group. Email Todd at

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