The Sea of Sameness.
Your job (and ours) is to stay the hell out of it.
But how can you reliably and consistently increase your MQ-Memorability Quotient®?
Jeff Bloomfield is a sales expert, business growth consultant, company leader and the author of Story-Based Selling. Most importantly, he is a husband and father of three who enjoys and values time with his family.
In his professional life, Jeff has helped thousands of sales professionals and their teams grow and increase their sales. He speaks to audiences of all sizes on the topics of leadership, communication, story-based selling, and the powerful impact of neuroscience on sales and marketing.
Since founding Braintrust and authoring Story Based Selling, Jeff has had the unique opportunity to speak, coach and consult with some of the best sales and marketing teams in the world, including sales professionals and executives at many Fortune 500 companies.
Neuroscience: You Don’t Make a Sale Without It
Recently, I was traveling to a speaking engagement to an area of the country I had not been to in several years. When I left for the airport, I jumped on a conference call and, before you know it, I was standing at the airport security checkpoint. I never even gave it a second thought. When I arrived at my destination, however, I was very unsure of where I was going. After some mental gymnastics and a Google maps episode, I drove off in my red rental car, paying close attention to the commands of my iPhone. I was completely locked into finding my destination and had blocked out all other distractions. This made me think about how the brain is involved in the sales buying decision…and it’s likely not in the way you think.
The brain is made up of approximately 100 billion neurons. Through this superhighway of amazing inter-connectivity, all learning and memory takes place. Sensory information is transmitted along the neural pathway and stored temporarily in short-term memory. The short-term memory area of the brain is a very volatile region. Think of Grand Central Station. This is where the brain initially receives all sensory information it encounters in our daily lives.
What’s really interesting about the brain, is that it essentially throws all new incoming information or experiences up on the “cerebral whiteboard” and proceeds to run through the long-term storage area to see if you’ve ever experienced anything like this before in your life. This process happens in an instant.
Why This Matters in Customer Conversations
This neuroscience applies to every situation, including our customer conversations. Sales professionals must differentiate themselves as trusted advisors through intentional and effective communication within their customer conversations. Understanding the science behind decision making is critical to having more effective customer conversations in order to build authentic trust, connection, and credibility and differentiate yourself as a trusted advisor, as opposed to just another salesperson.
When we communicate information to a prospect or client, they are subconsciously determining whether or not they are familiar with that “story.” In my trip to the airport, my brain instantly recognized the task of driving to the airport and didn’t require additional information to execute on the decision.
But let’s say you told me that the airport was in the opposite direction of the way I was traveling. Due to the strong nature of the neuron connections my brain had already created around my established path to the airport, my brain would have run that information quickly against the long-term database and dismissed it as not useful (as well as you). That is what happens when we communicate in the same way as all of the other salespeople they have experienced.
A recent study done by CEB found that 86% of Executive Buyers saw no apparent difference from one supplier to the next. Why is that?
From the prospect’s perspective, when a salesperson engages them with transactional facts and figures, spending the majority of their time talking about themselves and the features and benefits of their solutions, the prospect subconsciously believes they have “seen this movie before.” Their brain is quick to dismiss all self-focused, fact-based, transactional information as useless to them. The reason for this is that when they throw our information up on their “neural-whiteboard,” it gets instantly compared to all the other transactional-based sales interactions in their long term memory and is immediately discarded.
How to Stand Out In The Minds of Your Prospects
Now, back to your prospects. They have likely seen hundreds of sales presentations and their long-term memory is full of preconceived notions on what to expect from the next one coming through their office.
Subconsciously, their brain is looking for something novel and it’s looking for it quickly.
If you simply communicate with him or her the way every other salesperson has, you will be instantly discarded as irrelevant and useless in the mind of your prospect. How can you expect to make a sale when you have been dismissed in the mind of your prospect?
Start With Why
Don’t open the meeting with a transactional verbal agenda or an elevator pitch about “what” you or your company does. Start with the “WHY” behind what you do. Get personal. Build trust. It will work wonders.
Bring Novel Insight
Use relevant industry insight to show your prospect something new and interesting relative to trends in their world that they may not have been aware of. Make sure that the insight evokes emotion and forces them to think critically about what it would mean to not take action on this information.
According to research from the University of Michigan, when the brain selectively receives information through the five senses that it deems as novel or new, it pays special attention to it. Essentially, when it runs the new information against the existing database, it comes back as “no match” to anything it has experienced. Now you have the brain’s attention.
When that new information comes in multiple sensory forms (e.g. seeing, hearing) and comes attached to an emotion of some sort (e.g. fear, anger, joy), the emotion becomes a central part of the memory and makes the neural coupling over 20 times stronger for future recall. Tapping into that neuroscience is a key to connecting and standing out with your clients. A great way to use multiple senses and evoke the emotion tied to memory is to use visual storytelling techniques.
Apply Visual Storytelling Techniques
Use visual storytelling techniques when positioning your solution. Show them an easy and straightforward path to implementation and ensure they clearly see how your solution solves THEIR primary problem.
Remember, every word coming from your mouth has only seconds on the “whiteboard” of the short-term memory station of your prospect’s brain. If you don’t show originality and novelty, your prospects brain, by default, lumps you into the “been there, seen that” pile and your sale is likely all but out of the question.
That won’t help you hit your numbers.
Written by Jeff Bloomfield