So you've collected & collated all the data, you have all the facts and figures and the validation you need.
Your solution is rock solid and you've blocked out all competitors.
You know the next steps in the process - theirs and yours - and the teams are poised.
You've crafted a proposal that is, as we say "a no brainer." Costs are low, value is high, opportunity for client ROI/revenue/other stuff is through the roof.
You're the Wolf of Wallstreet, you're Ricky Roma and you're going to CLOSE THEM.
And they say "no."
Not only do they say "no" but as you come to find out they really weren't ever in a position to say "yes."
Sweating like a cow at Morton's, you hear "well I understand all the numbers, but we're just gonna wait."
You try to rebound, but as you listen, you realize it was never in the bag as you thought it was. And your forecast, your pipeline, Mom's new iron lung...all out the window with the commission that will never be.
What is going on? Why did my meticulously crafted proposal meet an untimely death?
A few experts in our field have figured it out - at least I think they have.
Daniel Kahneman with his Thinking, Fast and Slow, Simon Sinek with Start with Why and Oren Klaff's Pitch Anything all base their methodologies on this single nugget of biological fact:
We as salespeople are talking to the wrong brain.
Now I'm no Neil deGrasse Tyson but here's the issue is in a nutshell:
- The brain is made up of two distinct parts - the neocortex that controls logic and reason and the limbic brain which controls emotion and decision making.
- The neocortex doesn't make decisions - it rationalizes decisions made by the limbic brain
- When you communicate facts, figures, ROI, valueprop to the neocortex, they are understood, but they don't drive decision making.
- You need to communicate to the limbic, emotional brain, and once you convince that "crocodile brain", the prospect will "rationalize" the decision using your facts, figures, value props etc...
Think about the last time you bought something you didn't need - the car ride home was an exercise in your Limbic brain making a decision and your Neocrotex rationalizing. Anyone who has even been on a DIET knows the rationalization process of the Neocortex.
So if your Neocortex can't stop you from eating the entire chocolate cake, how is it going to help your customer make a decision to spend millions of dollars with you on some widget?
Maybe you think this is hokum - but think of it in these terms: if you're losing deals the way I've described above, what harm is there in trying something new?
Here's an experiment. Let's speak to your brains now - here is my pitch to you:
I recommend you should call your mother.
Here's an example of speaking to the Neocortex:
Here's an example of speaking directly to the limbic brain:
Now that you're back, which one speaks to you - to your gut?
Which one creates a reaction - positive or negative - that your brain is now rationalizing?
And which one is just "yeah I get it?"
So to paraphrase Klaff, Kahneman, Sinek and millions of years of evolution, you need to craft messages - stories - that speak to the parts of the brain that control our emotions and our decisions. Here are some ideas how to start:
- Why? - Simon Sinek is big on this and I suggest viewing his TED talks. Figuring out WHY your company exists is a big one. Think of the example above. AT&T exists to Connect People with People. Why does your company exist? Why do you, personally, get up in the morning? And why should a client care?
- Tension is good - Oren Klaff talks about how "tension indicates consequences and therefore importance." Your client/prospect's limbic brain will only pay attention to you if it's shot up with norepinephrine...and since you can't carry around a needle sticking prospects in the skull, you have to create tension in the meeting to have that happen naturally. Craft a message that shows the client will either gain or lose something important by talking or not talking to you and you have tension.
- Prime it - Daniel Kahneman, a Noble laureatet, has found that priming is another brain phenomenon that can affect our decisions without our knowledge. For example, Kahneman states that a person who’s recently heard the word "food," for example, will be "primed" to complete the word SO_P as SOUP and not SOAP. Ergo, offering insight to your client via simple, limbric brain focused client via emails and marketing phone calls may well help you "prime them" to complete the word DEA_ as DEAL and not DEAD.
It's all about the science. Stop fighting mother nature and embrace the crocodile in us all.
What do you have to lose?
That's my take - I'm interested in yours. Let me know.