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The brain as our most important sales tool

The brain as our most important sales tool

The most important business tool we have at our disposal is not our mobile phone, tablet, CRM or playbooks. We would content that it is the 3lbs worth of tofu-like material that resides between our left and right ear! Taking approx 11million bits of data from the external environment per second, everything we intuit and emote is an output of the 100 billion neurons firing neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin between each other giving us each our subjective experience.

Difference between our brain and mind

We know it as our brain or mind; these terms have become interchangeable in everyday conversation. Due to modern neuroscience, we understand that the mind is what the brain does. We know this by studying accidental brain injuries. If we were to lose the top half of a finger, it would hurt, and it would inconvenience us; however, we would get used to it and get on with our lives. Juxtaposition this: If we lost the corresponding amount of brain tissue as the half of our finger it would change our personality irrecoverably and or, radically alter our gross motor skills depending which part of the brain was affected.

It is unlikely we know much about the workings of the brain and mind; this tends to be the domain of neuroscientists and psychologists.

Getting to know our inner chimp

Having a working model that helps our understanding of the way we think, feel, our emotions and recognise what drives our behaviours would be incredibly useful in all areas of life.

We draw on the body of work developed by DrSteve Peters’ known as the Chimp Paradox; The three-part model he presents :

  • The‘Human’ or pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for executive control/planning/considered responses
  • The ‘Chimp’ or limbic system (emotional reaction)
  • The ‘Computer’ (the subconscious memory bank)

The job description of the ‘Chimp’ is to get our genes into the next generation and is concerned with our most basic needs: food, sex and survival. A useful trait some 100,000 years ago when our ancestors’ life expectancy was only about 25 years, and they were continually hiding from or fighting predators in the form of animals and other tribes.

The ‘Chimp’ has not evolved

Fast forward to the 21st Century and society is no longer dependent on just the basics, but evolution has not kept pace with social advances and the ‘Chimp’ part of the brain has changed very little. In a sales situation, the problem is that unchecked the ‘Chimp’ will react to a difficult buyer or a sales objection with the same intensity as if our very survival was being threatened and we were back on the plains of Africa.

How the chimp can hijack a sales meeting

In those times, the three main defence mechanisms of the ‘Chimp’ was flight, fight or freeze. When you bring these mechanisms into a modern sales scenario, they play out in customer interactions in three unhelpful ways:

  • Flight: Get the meeting out the way as quickly as possible and remove yourself from the situation.
  • Fight: Take the customer on and try to impress them with your superior knowledge of products, services, industry and sector, frequently resulting in an ego-invested knowledge dump.
  • Freeze: This is where the salesperson is stuck like the proverbial rabbit in the headlights and will prefer to talk pleasantries rather than business matters. This state is usually the precursor to the flight mode.

None of the above states is conducive to winning business. However, most of us will have experienced these situations.

Hit the emotional pause button

The chimp paradox model gives us a simple to understand framework enabling us to compartmentalise the way we feel. Hit the emotional pause button on the chimp and put our human in charge, giving us the capability to present the very best version of ourself to any situation rather than be hijacked by our chimp.

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