June 25, 2012

Marketers have always sought every advantage possible in order to drive buying behavior, including studying psychology and attempting to apply that knowledge to sales training and development. One misfire in the past was the notorious subliminal marketing fad of the 1960s and 1970s, where hidden messages were placed in print, TV and theatrical ads in an attempt to increase sales by affecting the subconscious mind. A more modern attempt lies in the field of neuromarketing.

Neuromarketing is a relatively new term, coined about a decade ago. It refers to the study of consumers’ responses to certain marketing stimuli, especially those responses that occur in the “subconscious” mind and therefore drive buying behaviors even without the full awareness of the individual. The studies use a variety of tools to gather data, such as eye-tracking software, skin reaction tests, and brain-imaging technology. Their goal is to measure effects directly rather than rely on surveys and focus groups which might have skewed data.


The field is not intended to promote an unethical, Svengali-like mind control, but salespeople can use some of the data gained in their sales training and development programs to increase their effectiveness in communicating to buyers.

Here are some ways top salespeople use neuromarketing to better relate to prospects and build trust.

Match their buyers

Neuromarketing studies show that people respond positively to things that reflect their tastes, culture or values in some fashion — indicating that people that are like themselves are better received than very strange ones. One way that salespeople can use this data is to quickly establish rapport by matching the physical and verbal characteristics of the buyers.
The way this is done is by subtly mimicking things such as:

• Tone of voice
• Buzz words and dialect
• Breathing and speaking rates
• Posture and body language
• Hand gestures

Of course, this should be done naturally, in the spirit of making the prospect more comfortable and to reduce any irrational fear towards the salesperson.

Listen to discover the “buy button.”

The ability to listen to a prospect to discover their “pain” or “buy button” allows for a much deeper trust level, and the buyer therefore feels that they are making a rational purchasing decision rather than being “sold.” Buyers will instinctively resist any attempt to separate them from their money unless “they” make the decision, even if in truth the salesperson was expertly guiding them along all the way.

Therefore, it is much more important to a buyer that a salesperson understand the details of his needs as a customer rather than him understanding every nuance of the salesperson’s offering. When a buyer feels the salesperson has listened and truly understands, he is ready to buy.

Convince themselves first

Top salespeople derive pleasure in helping others with their solutions. They are convinced that they can truly help the prospect solve his business pain. With such conviction, subtle cues which reflect truthfulness are naturally displayed by the salesperson, as opposed to signals which illustrate deception, such as shifty eyes, stumbling over words or nervousness. These barely noticeable negative manifestations can be subconscious turn-offs, resulting in the buyer somehow feeling uneasy without even knowing why, potentially costing a sale.

In summary, neuromarketing is not a panacea that will cover for a bad product or lousy marketing. Coercion should not be the goal, as it is unethical to foist useless or poor quality items and services upon buyers. Neuromarketing does, however, provide an edge when made part of a sales training and development program, as it helps salespeople enter into rapport and discover the true needs of their prospects.