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How Appealing to the Reptilian Brain Can Strengthen Any Sales Strategy

Feb. 8, 2017 · Jeremy Boudinet · 9 Minute Read

For organizations and companies of every size where maximizing sales is key to their success and growth, there is no denying how their sales strategy can either help them achieve their goals, or send them up a creek without a paddle. Strategy is always on the mind of sales managers, consultants, and every other sales professional imaginable. Without a clear and realized sales strategy, sales teams will fail hard and fast.

Teams who don’t invest serious time and consideration to evaluate the underlying value of what they’re trying to sell while trying to understand the people they’re selling to will eventually figure out they’re going nowhere. But no two sales strategies are exactly alike, and cookie cutter solutions rarely work for every organization.

Realizing and cementing your sales strategy is critical for empowering sales teams, and customizing a strategy should ultimately be crafted specific to your company. Beyond that, there are several ways to go about strengthening your strategy.

The most powerful thing you can do to improve or help shape your company’s sales strategy is by appealing to customers; by way of the reptilian brain.

What is the Reptilian Brain?

For those not familiar with the anatomy of the human brain, you may have heard that the brain can be broken down into three layers. Each layer represents how the human brain has developed over the thousands of years of our existence.

1) The Neocortex (Rational):

At the highest level is the neocortex, the part of the brain which is mostly responsible for more complex brain functions such as cognition, perception of the senses, motor function, spatial awareness and communication.

With two large cerebral hemispheres (ie. left brain, right brain),  these hemispheres have been responsible for the development of human language, imagination, abstract thought, and even our own consciousness. The neocortex is also where learning of abilities and skills takes place.

2) The Limbic System (Emotional):

The next layer down is the limbic brain, and this is the part of the brain associated with perceiving smell, emotions, motivation, behavior, learning and long-term memory. Not only that, but the limbic system can also monitor and control the endocrine and autonomic nervous system.

But one of the biggest things to keep in mind for sales professionals is that the limbic brain also plays a big part in decision making, but we’ll revisit that later on.

3) The Reptilian Brain (Instinctual):

The oldest of the three layers, the reptilian brain has been with us since the very beginning. The reptilian brain controls the body's vital functions such as heart rate and breathing. The reason it’s referred to as the reptilian brain is because our reptilian brain includes the main structures found in a reptile's brain: the brainstem and the cerebellum.

It is in this layer of the brain where some of our baser instincts are most often associated. These instincts include assessing threats, sexual desire, and more. Ultimately, actions that are core to our own survival are these unconscious instincts and can supercede any decision that occurs in the emotional (limbic system) or rational (neocortex) centers of the brain.

How the Brain Works in Harmony

The most important thing to distinguish amongst the layers is that rarely do any of them operate solely. The often rely on each other since the brain is responsible for so much in the human body. With numerous interconnectivity between each layer, the layers must function in tandem with one another.

But there are times when certain layers will override or heavily influence other layers. The instincts ingrained within us and always present in the reptilian are one of the more powerful ways in which the different structures influence one another.

The Reptilian Brain & Neuroscience Marketing

To see the power of that the reptilian brain can wield, let’s look at this study conducted by Stanford professor, Baba Shiv. Participants were challenged with trying to remember a series of numbers while picking between eating an appealing snack of chocolate cake, or a less attractive but healthier fruit salad. Here’s what was found in this study:

Because the logical and rational centers of the brain were somewhat involved with remembering a sequence of numbers, the instinctual desire for sugars and fats outweighed the desire for the healthier option.

The researchers in this study eventually concluded that what they found, “...suggests that consumers are more often mindless rather than mindful decision makers.”

This research suggests that, more often than not, people in the decision making process, go with their instinct rather than the rational thought process. Sure, it does play some role since the different layers often influence each other, but instincts are hard to ignore.

So when you approach selling by appealing to the reptilian brain, you’re really applying the basics of neuroscience marketing (aka neuromarketing). This is a new trend emerging amongst sales professionals and marketers alike by applying neuroscience research to understanding the customer purchase cycle.

How to Sell By Appealing to the Reptilian Brain

You could spend an entire career becoming a student of neuromarketing, but there are some basic principles to stick to without going deep on the subject. Here’s a look at how to use neuromarketing in order to appeal a customer’s instincts.

1) Getting to the Root of Their Pain Points

Part of communicating your product or service’s value is understanding the sorts of things your potential client is struggling with and needs some sort of solution. Having meaningful conversations with these prospects should give you just the right opportunity to hear their pain points and in their own words. The reptilian brain is most concerned with survival, and that means avoiding pain and frustration.

Over time, you’ll probably notice some trends begin to arise when conversing with several of your prospects. Eventually, you’ll have a deep comprehension of what ails them, and then you can swoop in by either demonstrating to them how your product can help them or entice them with some original content.

2) Differentiate Yourself From the Pack

Unless you have siphoned off a part of your market and have zero competitors, which is very unlikely, customers can have an often difficult time parsing out what makes you different from your competitors. Even when you consider pricing, customer satisfaction, and other factors to consider, customers can still rely on their “gut” to help them make a final decision.

The reptilian is instantly activated when forced to compare things with some form of direct contrast. This is where having substantiated claims about your product or service can help your company stand apart. Never promise something you can’t deliver on, but giving your prospect an idea of what they can expect by buying from you will go a long way towards earning their trust.

3) Prove Your Worth

This goes along with the point made above, but the reptilian brain needs proof of what you’re selling. For example, pricing can be an incredible selling point, but if you can demonstrate the value your product or service will provide, cost will take a backseat as the primary consideration. By putting the reptilian brain at ease with value you can clearly demonstrate, you’ll continue to prove to your customer why buying from you is an instinctually good move.

Empower Customers To Go With Their Gut Feelings

When it comes to business and life, most of us probably assume that making decisions based on logic is always the best way to go. We like to think that a rational decision means gathering the facts, weighing all the pros and cons, and using logic to suss out the best option.

If your goal is to provide a customer with value and a solution to their problems, you can leverage one of the most powerful selling tools out there by appealing to their reptilian brain. When you feel comfortable with the concepts behind neuromarketing, you should be able to go back and strengthen your current sales strategy.

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About the Author: Stephen Hoops is a marketing and sales specialist who wrote this post especially for the Ambition Blog. After receiving his Bachelor's in Journalism from West Virginia University in 2013, Stephen has been hooked on writing professionally ever since. Stephen is a content creator from Wheeling, WV, who specializes in blogs and loves connecting with folks via social media. Find him on Twitter.

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