Saturday, 1 February 2014

How To Sell Effectively in the New Commercial Reality

We have discovered more about how the human brain works in the last five to ten years than in the whole of human history.  For example, we now understand more about how it functions when it makes decision, including decisions to buy or not to buy from salespeople.

How the human brain works is of great importance to salespeople. Due to advances in neuroscience we can now look into the human brain and discover what it likes and dislikes.  We can understand why it rejects certain things, such as some salespeople and some sales proposals!

However, a considerable number of selling techniques and selling systems that are used today are based largely upon a book that was published in 1922.  A very progressive gentleman called Edward K Strong wrote “The Psychology of Selling” and introduced salespeople to concepts such as open and closed questions, features and benefits, overcoming objections and closing techniques.

He was without doubt a man ahead of his time, and his work was so influential that its key principles survive to this day and indeed form the core content of most company’s sales training programmes.

As useful as Edward K Strong’s principles are, it is important to consider that the commercial world that existed in 1922 was very different to the world of 2014.  In the 92 years that has passed since the publication of Strong’s book huge advances in technology and society have taken place. These powerful changes have disrupted and changed the commercial reality that salespeople face almost beyond recognition.

In the new commercial reality customers are better informed and educated than ever before, they conduct on-line research to gain an advantage over salespeople, and profit margins are under pressure as they continually demand more for less. The relentless process of increasing competition and creative destruction accelerates on a daily basis, creating a highly competitive and cut-throat commercial environment that would have been unthinkable back in 1922!

In order to survive your business has upgraded its technology, its systems, its processes, and its business model.  However the vital question is: Have you upgraded your sales technology, systems and processes? Has your sales approach kept pace with the new reality, or are you in danger of being left behind?

The future of your sales success will increasingly lie in your ability to understand and connect with the brain that resides in the head of your customer.

Cutting edge neuroscience research, if understood and applied, will give you an unfair advantage that your competitors will hate. For example, neuroscience now shows us that only 5% of human decision-making (including the decision to buy from you) occurs in the conscious / rational area of the human brain known as the cortex. A massive 95% of decision-making occurs in the more primitive and largely unconscious regions – namely the reptilian complex and the limbic system.  I refer to this area of the brain as “the missing 95%”.

Although human beings have evolved our brains have not changed significantly in 100,000 years, leaving us with a largely primitive brain that has to operate in the new reality of our modern world. Due to our evolutionary history the more primitive areas of our brain exert more control and influence over the rational part of our brain than the other way around, allowing primitive unconscious mental processes and emotional arousal to heavily influence decision making and, at times, to dominate it.

The modern salesperson needs to understand how to connect with “the missing 95%”of their customer’s brain and help it to feel comfortable with them so that it is receptive to their sales messages.  Irritate or threaten it and the message receptors in the brain begin to shut down with the result that you and your sales pitch are rejected.  To succeed in the new reality salespeople need to master the art of “brain friendly selling”.

For example, you need to understand that hard-wired into the brain are the two most powerful motivating human drives - the instinctive desire to “stay away” from discomfort and to move “towards reward”. Stay away from problems / discomfort and move towards comfort / pleasure is the fundamental operating system of the human brain. These powerful forces are the triggers that cause your customers to buy.

To succeed in the new reality you need to be able to build these powerful motivating drives into your sales process, and motivate the customer to take action by showing how your product or service moves the customer away from the problems they are experiencing and towards the more comfortable future they desire.

If you can do this then you will succeed in the new reality. If you don’t then you are in danger of being left behind by competitors who have upgraded their sales approach to meet the increasing demands of the new reality.  If you harness the very latest powerful discoveries from neuroscience and incorporate these into your sales training, sales process and sales methodology your customers will become increasingly comfortable with you and will buy from you time and time again.

Simon Hazeldine MSc FinstSMM is an international speaker and consultant in the areas of sales, negotiation, performance leadership and applied neuroscience. 
He is the bestselling author of five business books:
  • Neuro-Sell: How Neuroscience Can Power Your Sales Success
  • Bare Knuckle Selling
  • Bare Knuckle Negotiating
  • Bare Knuckle Customer Service
  • The Inner Winner
To learn more about Simon's keynote speeches and other services please visit:

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