As a keen observer, learner, mentor of the world of human behaviour and sales it is fascinating to watch the human race as we interact with each other – knowing that essentially we are still using the same neuronal operating system as our primal ancestors nursed for us some tens of thousand of years ago.

Sure there have been a few upgrades and updates (the frontal lobe is a real life of the complex processing party these days) but in the areas that matter most in buying behaviour we are largely still primal creatures wearing human clothing.

The way we create relationships: Primal.

The external sources that we fear: Primal.

The way we truly communicate: Primal.

When we look close enough, we can find practically endless amounts of ways that our actions resemble those of our slightly hairier ancestors, and the way these principles can be applied in sales leaves only one word in mind – powerful.

Lesson 1: We notice that which is new, but stick with that which is comfortable

Marketing 101: Be different to be noticed.

Our brains are hardwired to survive at all costs, which means anything new will be noticed at the first point of contact. This is our primal brain’s way of asking itself “Is this new thing dangerous – can it hurt me or should it be trusted?” and once the stimuli has been categorised we know whether to run, ignore or approach.

In sales and marketing we see this play out all the time as a new product is launched and curiosity is built, opening our minds to notice the potential danger, or – hopefully for the company that created it – an approachable trustee.

Once the approach has occurred after it has been decided that trust is evident, it is up to the sales team to assist their new potential customer in feeling comfortable with their purchase, because we as largely primal tend to prefer sticking to things we know.

Our purchasing decisions are nothing more than the fight-or-flight mechanism repeated many times over within a given time frame, and we have our ancestors to thank for it.

Lesson 2: The way we create relationships hasn’t changed for thousands of years

The comparison between ‘dating’ and ‘relationships’ is often drawn to describe the way in which we are attracted to that which can assist our survival – and accurately. If you are up for it, I suggest looking into the science of love – it is fascinating to discover how much of attraction is based on simple chemistry and evolutionary biases.

It’s a shame really; I thought she liked me for me. Turns out it may have just been the way I smelt.

In dating, we will move towards those who will give us the best chance of survival (those who offer the most value) and those who can make us feel something (an emotion).

In the modern world, this translates to those who can make us feel a strong enough emotion towards something of high value will win the day game of sales.

Our ancestors were largely reactionary (emotional) creatures; it is only since the introduction of a frontal lobe in the modern cerebral cortex that higher-order logical and decision-making processes were able impact our behaviours. The more emotional we are, the more we are able to react to our environment, and the longer we will survive.

So if we are seemingly uncontrollably attracted to that which helps to us to feel emotion, what is the key for salespeople to creating it?

Lesson 3: The key to getting a message across isn’t the words we use; it’s in our tonality

Our ancestors survived through communication not on prefixes, verbs adjectives but a series of changes in tonality (grunts and groans mainly) that served as direct signals for the message they wanted to deliver.

Studies show that the power of our message is in 7% of the words we use, 38% in the tonality we say them with and the rest is (55%) is in body language. This is an evolutionary

This means that in a spoken conversation, we say at least fives times more with our tonality than the words we actually put forth.

Now, how about those emotions…

As salespeople, we can now assume that the power of persuading and influencing a decision through creating emotion is largely due to the tonality we use.

Learning ‘what to say’ to overcome an objection is a purely logical approach to an emotional obstacle. Sure the words are important here and they should be chosen carefully, but that’s only one fifth of the solution that we have an answer for.

Wanting to learn more about the power of tonality in your sales approach? Check out 21st Century Selling’s “Tonal Persuasion Method” right here.


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