“I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don’t understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.” — Sophia Loren
I’m fascinated with the brain and especially the structure and functions of the brain. The limbic system is the seat of emotion, long term memory, hormones, behavior, and all the senses. It controls our heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, hunger, pleasure, thirst, sleeping and wakefulness — things that we don’t consciously ever think about but take place all the time and are responsible for keeping us alive. It is also where we make all of our decisions. It’s a very primitive structure.
Why is knowing about decision making important for a persuader? Hmm. . . . that’s a pretty obvious one, isn’t it?
When we are persuading, we are asking people to make the decision we want them to make. We are working with a part of the brain that is older than the other parts. This is why I often go through the core drives — fight or fight, hunger, reproduction, shelter — these are all involved in the same process. It’s responsible for something as grand and universal as our evolution and as well as something that’s somewhat more mundane as the decision of whether or not we decide to purchase products or services from a sales professional.
Our analytic mind, the logical, mathematical, scientific, time-keeping, synthesizing, deductive part of our mind, is a lot younger. And while they compose a whole — the limbic system is somewhat naïve of the analytic mind. What I mean by that is, say we smell a scent that brings us back to our childhood. For me, it’s Old Spice. When I was a teenager I had a bottle of it. I didn’t use it liberally, but very sparingly when I’d go on a date. When my olfactory sense comes into contact with Old Spice, it pulls me back to the 70s. I’m in my car, driving down Highway 84, the Columbia River Highway, on my way to my girlfriend’s house.
That’s all great and good. But the problem is that my analytical mind doesn’t pull me back out of that reverie and I can get into that nostalgic state which sometimes can incite sadness. Getting stuck in a feeling can be awesome and amazing and it can be paralyzing.
As persuaders, knowing this can help us make sales. Think about it — if you link something as primordial and deep as the core drives, criteria, and your product or service, and if your client or prospect gets stuck in that feeling of attachment to that, then the decision can be made before logic gets involved at all.
So elicit the criteria, use a little rhythmic speaking or repetition in three — prime the pump, so to speak — and logically, analytically — watch as your client’s limbic system works to your advantage and theirs where your persuasion is concerned.
Until Next Time,
Kenrick E. Cleveland