Archive for September 2011

This is a topic that is covered in my sales workshops and often leads to quite a heated debate. I’ve read quite a bit on the subject of how our brains make decisions. So far, I have not come across a really accurate description of the process at all, especially when it relates to purchases. You’d think an understanding of this process would be essential to ourselves as individuals, let alone of high value to sales folks! What I have learned is that in a ‘considered purchase’ (where there is an element of risk involved – i.e. one that is not an impulse purchase) the process requires both sides of the brain to be satisfied, if at all possible. The perceived risk may be associated with doing something, or not doing something or even assessing the risk between different suppliers…

Both sides of the brain are needed to make a considered purchase – an informed decision. The left hand side of the brain is associated with the facts, logic and process. This side of the brain will look at specifications, price, fit for purpose and so on. The right hand side of the brain is associated with emotions, feelings and creativity. So this side of the brain will look at how they feel about the solution, salesperson and impact on people (including oneself).

So here is an interesting question: “What side of the brain starts the process off to purchase something?” Is it the logical left hand side of the brain or the emotional right hand side? Turns out it’s the right hand side that gets us started because we are ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘dissatisfied’ with something. See – those emotions are what get the sales process started. In fact you could consider the role of marketing is to make people unhappy and dissatisfied with some aspect of their work / personal life! If people are happy with what they have and how they feel, there is a significantly reduced requirement to purchase things to make life better.

So if the right hand side gets the sale started – where does the decision get made? Well, also in the right hand side for the most part. But in between the thought process move to the logical left hand to ensure that the factual requirements are understood and met by the proposed solution or product. Eventually the thought process  moves back (in fact it may be that it moves from one side to the other a number of times) to the right hand side that will ultimately place the order.

Why is this important for sales folks? Well, you need to be able to assess what part of the brain is being used at any particular time by a prospect so that you can match your behaviour and conversation accordingly. There is no point discussing your superior specifications if the prospect is thinking about how the wrong purchase may affect their promotion. Likewise there is no point focusing on the status to be gained in purchasing a new to market product if the prospect is asking questions about compatibility with existing equipment. Of course both sides of the brain need to be satisfied before a decision can be made. Otherwise they will just say ‘leave it with me…’ or ‘let me think about it…’ Or, as I’m sure we’ve all experienced an emotional decision is taken. This can also lead to the decision being justified by logic (good reasons) whilst the motivator was emotional (real reasons).

This is why it can be so dangerous to have a ‘standard’ presentation about a product.  The salesperson needs the flexibility to ascertain which side of the brain the prospect is working in and match their sales presentation accordingly.

But never under estimate the power of emotions – in both starting and closing a sale!