Within four months of opening, my ad agency went from $0 to over $100,000 per month using a sales strategy that everyone else claimed was dead.
I had never been in the ad space before, and I didn’t have existing connections. This was a brand new business, starting from scratch. So I did the one thing I knew how to do exceptionally well—I sold.
Before you start getting carried away wondering what superhuman closing techniques I used, you should know that the actual sales strategy I used isn’t what created the win.
What took us to six figures per month, in a new business, before our six-month birthday, was the science we used behind our sales strategies. To be exact, we gained a better understanding of how the prospect’s mind works.
The Psychology of How to Close a Sales Deal
Here’s the deal, every prospect has a brain (::withholds all of the jokes::). And most of them follow similar patterns. That means by using what we know about how the brain works, you can actually understand and create a custom sales process that caters to these patterns.
Not to mention, you get extra sales points when you can pinpoint which part of the brain your prospect leads with, so you can customize your sales pitch as you’re interacting with them.
As always, lead with service first and only sell someone a program or product that will actually solve their problem and benefit their lives. The rest of the sales process is simply helping them make a decision they’ll be happy with.
All of that being said, it’s time to get to know your prospect’s mind a little more intimately.
The Logical Part of the Brain
This is the most straightforward, no frills, no need to read between the lines part of the brain. The logical part of your prospect’s brain likes simplicity. It doesn’t want to be bogged down with details that don’t matter. All this brain center needs to know is what the product, service, or offering will do to get them what they want. It’s that simple.
The Emotional Part of the Brain
The emotional part of the brain is the first part of the brain that you want to speak to in the sales process to close more sales. This is where buying decisions are made. The logical part of the brain brings in the information, but the emotional part of the brain sorts out whether or not the decision to buy feels right.
Creating an emotional reaction is critical in the sales process. If they hear a list of details that they have no emotional connection with, it becomes difficult to sell because the prospect can’t imagine how their life will be better after making that decision. When you get the emotional brain lit up, it activates your prospect’s ability to visualize (and feel!) how your offer will affect them.
Keep in mind, the majority of mental processing involved in sales is happening unconsciously. To sell effectively, you need to make sure your sales messages can arouse the limbic system, which is the emotional brain, so that your sales conversations are brain friendly.
Being able to identify the emotions your prospect might be feeling and communicating through them is vital for sales success.
The Survival Part Of The Brain
Commonly referred to as the lizard brain, this is where your prospect’s fight or flight response lives. Here’s the interesting part—with all of the stress and pressure that comes from a high tech, plugged in, constantly accessible society, your audience’s fight or flight switch is activated more often than nature intended it to be. That means you don’t need to worry about triggering the lizard brain, you need to focus on leveraging it with integrity.
How to Connect With These 3 Parts of the Brain During Sales
Think of each part of your prospect’s brain as a different personality. Each one has its own way of communicating, seeing the world, and interacting with you. If you want to get to the sales promised land, you’ve got to act like the host with the most so every personality is getting along at the sales party and having a good time. Here’s how you do that.
The Logical Brain (aka Cindy)
First, you’ve got to deal with Cindy, the logical brain. Cindy likes to keep things simple, organized, and she doesn’t want to think too hard. The second Cindy gets confused, she’s out and looking for a new party. The worst thing you could do to Cindy is bog her down with unnecessary information about your offer. She doesn’t actually care how it works, just that it does work and will give her the result she’s after. If you try to take Cindy through the process journey, you’re likely to lose her—and the sale.
Instead, when selling to Cindy, the best strategy is to keep things as simple and streamlined as possible. If she wants more information, she’ll ask for it. But start with the basics of “here is the problem” and “this is what this solution will do for you.” If you keep Cindy on the same page with you and avoid confusion, you’re a third of the way to your sale.
The Emotional Brain (aka Martha)
Second, you’ve got to speak with Martha, the emotional brain. Martha needs to feel heard, seen, and understood. If she doesn’t feel like you care (or that you actually get what she’s going through), Martha’s going to bounce. The worst thing you could do with Martha is talk over her and make the sales pitch about you or your special offer. All Martha cares about is how you make her feel.
The best sales strategy to get Martha on board (if saying yes is the right decision for her), is to ask thoughtful and strategic questions that help her understand if this offer is what she needs. By giving Martha the space to express, you develop a deeper understanding for what she feels and how she sees her problem, and (if you’re actively listening) she can process through emotions that would otherwise stand in the way of the sale.
The Lizard Brain (aka Frank)
Finally, you’ve got Frank, and Frank can best be described as the dude that’s in constant fear mode. He’s consistently on alert and his trust tank toward others has been on E for the past decade.
To be clear, Frank’s not a bad guy. Your prospects need Frank. Frank keeps your prospects safe (like keeping them from repeating the midnight margaritas mistake that led to an uncomfortable story about elephants and salsa dancing in Tijuana). Your prospect relies on this guy. So if you go into your sales process and try to make Frank the bad guy, you can count that sale lost.
Rather than try to argue with or calm Frank, you should channel his fear toward the idea of staying right where he is or perhaps getting worse. There is only one true reason prospects ever make the decision to change, and that is the pain of staying where they are has become more painful than the stress of shifting into the unknown.
The truth is, Frank is most likely comfortable where he is. He’s aware he needs to change, and there’s a part of him that wants to. But there’s that other part that feels safe in being able to predict the pattern he’s created in his life, even if it’s painful. If in your sales conversation you can help Frank realize how painful his current state actually is in comparison to what life could be like on the other side of the offer, he will happily close the sale.
The Psychology of Sales
Now that you get the three parts of the brain and how you need to communicate with them, you’re ready to dive into how your prospect interprets your communications, and figure out which brain your prospect is leading with.
Understanding the Conscious and Subconscious Mind
This one quote changed how I approached closing sales forever.
“According to cognitive neuroscientists, we are conscious of only about 5 percent of our cognitive activity, so most of our decisions, actions, emotions and behavior depend on the 95 percent of brain activity that goes beyond our conscious awareness.” (Szegedy-Maszak, 2005)
That means most people are speaking to only 5% of the brain—the conscious part. The problem with that is the conscious part of your prospect’s mind isn’t actually in the driver’s seat.
The conscious mind is a lot like Frank, gathering data to keep you safe, bringing the information to your subconscious so it can decide where that information is going to live, whether or not it’s relevant, and whether or not it’ll shift a core belief you’ve developed. Your beliefs live in the subconscious, and that’s the part of the prospect’s mind that actually drives the decision making.
For example, if you’re selling a prospect an all-in-one home gym and they know the healthy thing to do would be to buy that all-in-one home gym, the sale can get halted mid-close if the prospect has a subconscious belief that losing weight will attract unwanted attention.
At the same time, the prospect is subconsciously sorting through the amount of effort it will take to make the change they’re considering. It’s easier for people to not try and fail than it is for them to put in effort and fail. So it’s important that throughout your sales process you’re minimizing the risk that you’re asking them to take, in order to make the result easier for your prospect to experience.
Think about it like this: in selling a customer an all-in-one home gym, they have to figure out where it’ll go, how to set it up, how to use it, and how to figure out fixing it if any of the moving parts break.
So even though the all-in-one home gym will give them the result they want, and you’ve shown the customer that the all-in-one home gym is a way to save money compared to other weight loss solutions, there’s still the risk of failure, inconvenience, and confusion cropping up in their subconscious.
You want to knock that risk out with a one-two-three combination of handling the installation for them, giving them a warranty that’ll fix anything that breaks, and providing them with on demand instructions for how to use the machine. All of a sudden, those subconscious red flags are lowered, and it’s easier for your prospect to say yes.
In just a bit, you’ll learn how to actually navigate the different parts of the brain in your real life sales conversations.
What Part of the Brain Are They Leading With?
When you know how to navigate through the different parts of your prospect’s brain and thought processes, you’re left with a cool superpower in your back pocket—the ability to understand your prospect and pivot the conversation to meet their needs.
Every prospect you’ll connect with needs all three parts of their brain spoken to and nurtured, but as with most things in business, it’s all about timing.
Different prospects need different kinds of attention and conversations. Pay attention to what part of your prospect’s brain they lead with. That’ll tell you where the conversation should start and how things will progress. The more you pay attention to how your prospect is communicating, the faster you can pivot the conversation to fulfill their needs.
For example, if your prospect is asking a lot of questions about the features or the nitty gritty details of your product or service up front, or the mechanics of their problem (and the things they’ve tried to fix it), they’re likely leading with Cindy, their logical brain.
If your prospect is asking more about the outcome of your product or service, past customer experiences, or is speaking more about their feelings in regards to their problem or desire, they’re likely leading with Martha, their emotional brain.
And if your prospect is asking you about customer experiences gone wrong, the percentages of people who have had success, what is required of them to have success with your product or service, or asking about how much your product or service costs right away, they’re likely leading with Frank, their survival brain.
When you identify the part of the brain your prospect leads with, you understand how to communicate better so that you can make the sales experience less stressful on them. Remember, prospects can often shift between the three parts of the brain quickly, and there’s not a one-size-fits-all journey that every prospect will go through in their mind.
A quick way to identify what part of the brain your prospect has shifted into is by recognizing the kinds of questions or statements that belong to each.
Survival brain, Frank, will ask questions or make statements that are based in fear. Prospects will say things like, “I had a friend who tried something like this once, and it didn’t work out for them,” “I don’t know if I have the time to put into this,” or “what happens if I do this and I don’t get results? What’s your guarantee?” Notice, most of these thoughts have the undertone of “what if I can’t do this” or “what if this doesn’t work for me.”
Logical brain, Cindy will say things like, “when does this start?” “what are the things about this that make it different?” or “what is the process like?” These questions are all about the details of the product or service so the prospect can set their expectations. Usually when someone leads with logic, there’s an anxiety around the unknown and the lists of logistics help quiet that anxiety by keeping them informed.
Emotional brain, Martha, will bring up thoughts or questions like, “what if I have questions in the program?” “I’m so tired of struggling with this,” or “I’m so ready to see what my kids think when I get it home!” These thoughts and questions are all about how the prospect is feeling about their journey, themselves, and the product or service that you have.
By paying attention to the kinds of questions your prospect asks and the way they explain their problems or desires, you’ll understand what part of their brain they’re using at any given moment. That way you know how to respond appropriately.
Cheat Sheet for Determining Brain Type
If you’re having trouble, here’s a quick cheat code to help you identify your prospect’s primary brain center—pay attention to their personality. Please note that these personality insights are not hard and fast rules. They are indicators that can help you.
Logical brain personalities tend to be more rigid or to the point. Their voices can sound more relaxed or disconnected than the other two, and can sometimes come across monotone, reserved, or withdrawn. Their movements are often more subtle. They think before they speak, and you can usually see them processing information.
Emotional brain personalities tend to be more conversational and self-reflective. Their voices will likely have more variation and expression. Their emotions tend to process on their face more than the other two personality types. So if you’re speaking with someone who has bigger facial expressions, gestures, or movements, you’re likely dealing with a primarily emotional brain.
Survival brain personalities tend to come across defensive, standoffish, or arrogant. All of those initial impressions are defense mechanisms. Their voices can be perceived as loud and boisterous or quiet and protective. Their movements tend to be stronger and more grounded than the other two, perhaps giving someone a strong pat on the back, deliberately crossing their arms, or smacking the table. They can often be seen as a force to be reckoned with or the strong and silent type.
Using this approach can provide your prospect with a safe space to communicate, while building trust at hyperspeed. By developing your sales process with a whole brain approach, you’re selling to your prospect as a whole person instead of demographics. This helps you naturally adjust your communication style to the needs of your prospect so you close more sales.
Verbal and Nonverbal Cues to Watch During the Sales Process
Once you can determine the brain your prospect is speaking from, you then want to pay attention to cues.
The most successful salespeople are the ones who can unconsciously mirror and match their prospect’s verbal and nonverbal personality cues, which minimizes any interpersonal tension. The more your prospect feels comfortable and connected to you (even in a small way), the less likely you will be to trigger a red flag response.
Here are the most important cues to be aware of:
Energy levels (nonverbal): You want to be on the same frequency as your prospect. If they are super laid back you don’t want to go in full of over-the-top energy. That’d be like going to a massage expecting whale sounds and incense only to get heavy metal and cigarettes. Matching your prospect’s energy level is an important part of creating a space where they can feel understood and safe.
Body language (nonverbal): Do they use frequent hand gestures when talking? Do they keep steady eye contact? Would they rather stand than sit? Paying attention to how your prospect communicates with their body will tell you a lot about how they’re feeling throughout the process, especially if you see a stark change in their physical expression during your conversation. There are three main types of body language you want to look for in your sales conversations: contracting movements, expansive movements, and connecting movements.
Contraction movements include your prospect crossing their arms or legs, their shoulders rounding forward, slouching back in their chair, or anything else that makes your prospect lean back or put space between you. These movements are signs that your prospect needs to protect themselves or they’re disengaging from the conversation.
Expansive movements include sitting up straight, pulling their shoulders back, putting their arms at their sides, uncrossing their legs, or other movements that open your prospect’s body to you. These movements are signs that your prospect is interested and open to the conversation.
Connection movements include when your prospect leans in toward you, reaches toward you, smiles at or laughs with you, or other movements that create a bond with you. These movements are signs that your prospect is building trust, enjoying the conversation, and wants to hear more.
Expect all three of these movement types to happen in any sales conversation and with any brain type, and pivot the conversation if necessary. For example, if you have a prospect leaning in to hear more, and during that conversation they lean back and cross their arms, ask them what they’re thinking or feeling and address it. Don’t think of contraction movements as your prospect shutting down. Think about them as opportunities for your prospect to open up to you. This builds rapport because they see that you’re paying attention to them, you care about their experience, and you’re willing to address things so that they’re taken care of. By paying attention to your prospect in this way, you build rapport quickly and close more sales.
Direct language (verbal): Even the specific language and terminology your prospect uses can help you understand how to speak to them more clearly. For example, one prospect may say they want to be abundant but another prospect says they want to be prosperous. While the words mean roughly the same thing, if you don’t respond with the exact word they used, they can subconsciously stop trusting you or begin to feel unheard.
Now that you understand the different parts of the brain, how to sell to them, and how to communicate effectively throughout your sales conversations, it’s time to develop your individual sales process.
Develop Your Whole-Brain Sales Process
Now we want to develop an adaptive sales process using what we know, a whole-brain approach where the flow of your sales process mirrors the flow of what your prospect is experiencing.
Each customer is unique, and too many salespeople assume that the way they like to buy or be sold to is also true of all their customers. Stop! Do not pass go! Do not collect $200! That line of thinking will kill sales for you again and again and again.
For example, if you lead with your emotional brain in the sales process, but your prospect leads with their logical brain, you can run into some major hurdles. You need to meet people where they are at. The “one size fits all” model is killing your sales.
Adaptive, whole brain selling is based on these three principles:
To be effective and thorough with your adaptive sales flow, you first must be able to observe and properly interpret the cues your prospect gives you before you react or respond.
This is the process of observing how your prospect flows between the different parts of their brain, taking note of their verbal and nonverbal cues (like their body language) like we discussed in this article. As this information comes in, you interpret what it means and respond appropriately. The more you do this, the more adept you’ll become at it.
Adapting your selling to suit the unique combination of brain centers in each prospect is how to create a winning sales experience for both you and them.
Make Adaptive Selling Work For You
Be willing to put your prospect first. Listen. Care. Meet them where they are so that you can raise them up. Change is scary for most people, and trying to force them through the sales process is only going to bring up resistance and mistrust.
Not only will an adaptive sales process work faster than other sales methods, it’s the sales closing technique that treats your prospect as a whole person and gets you deeply in tune with them.
So long as you’re willing to be open, be honest, and expand your emotional intelligence, the adaptive sales process will work for you. Where will you start with building your adaptive sale process? Comment below to fill us in, and if you found this article helpful, share it with your friends.