During my recent visit to Vietnam this year, I met a person who has been following me from past one year.
He is a Vietnamese citizen and runs a marketing agency there.
During our discussion, he said that he loves how I emphasise on psychology and Neuromarketing, implementing it in marketing strategies to ensure that I get best results from campaigns.
He suddenly asked me that is there some way that I can implement Psychology & Neuromarketing in Client acquisition and somehow get one of the best way to acquire clients?
Well, that question tempted me to dig into hundreds of research papers and find a conclusive link between client pitching and psychology.
Contents of the Article
- 1 Why Do We Need New Method Of Client Acquisition?
- 2 Introducing : CROCODILE BRAIN
- 3 See How Three Parts Of Brain Work Independently
- 4 So Where Does The Problem Lie?
- 5 Crocodile Brain At Work In Real Time Situation
- 6 Is There A Solution To This?
- 7 Where Is The Solution?
And it LITERALLY HELPED ME FIND A GOLD MINE!
Recently, I came across few studies and researches done in this field. Thankfully, it helped me come up with exact phenomenon which showcases how we can understand our prospect’s brain and how we can implement our strategies to push the perfect trigger in your prospect’s mind, helping you bag that client, forever.
Why Do We Need New Method Of Client Acquisition?
Well, If ever there is a need to pitch effectively, it is NOW.
Funding across the world is tight because of the way economy is going and competitors are as smart as anyone can ever be.
On top of that on a good day, your prospects are distracted by text messages, e mails, phone calls and much more. On a bad day, they are impossible to reach.
If you have been in business for even one day, you would already have figured out that the better you are at keeping a person’s attention, the more likely it is that the person will go ahead with your idea and concept.
But is that really a strong advice?
I mean, telling someone that keep the audience’s attention is as good as telling someone that earth is round.
They already know it.
What people may not know is, how to actually do it in the most effective way possible.
When you got to sell anything, you know how an awesome pitch with a robust idea can make the project go ahead whereas a wrong pitch can literally kill any chance, whatsoever.
I am sure that you also understand how difficult it is to pitch to a skeptical audience (everyone is), who is paying attention to you for few moments and then distracted by a phone call or zillion other things.
But, we all got to go through it if we need clients.
Sadly, even after knowing all this, most of the business owners or business developers spend less than 5% of their efforts on a sales pitch, while it is one of the most important aspect of any business.
When we have to raise funds, get promotion, sell our services or probably a complex idea, most of us fair really bad.
Why is that so?
One prime reason for this is that we are our worst coach, ever.
We definitely know too less or too much about our own subject to be able to understand how another person will experience it in our pitch.
Because of this, we tend to overwhelm our prospects with complex talks or presentation slides which make them go away, mentally.
But, the biggest reason for our prospects not saying YES is actually not our fault.
The fact is that we are not able to pitch awesome always because of a very simple evolutionary flaw in our brain.
Well, lets read ahead to understand the flaw and explore the ways in which we can overcome it.
Statutory Warning : To make you understand the concept, we need to dive into biology. Don’t worry, we won’t ask you to dissect a frog.
Introducing : CROCODILE BRAIN
As per recent revelations on neuroscience, our brain developed in three separate stages in a very complex timeline.
Crocodile brain or old brain is what was the first one.
It is responsible for the initial filtering of all incoming messages or signals. It is also responsible for most survival responses along with controlling our emotions too.
But, when it comes to decision making ,crocodile brain’s reasoning powers are as good as a monkey trying to solve maths problem. i.e. primitive.
Crocodile brain just doesn’t have a lot of capacity and whatever it has, it is used for primarily things it needs to keep us alive.
The second in line is midbrain which determines social situations.
The third and the smart one among them is neocortex which evolved to problem solving ability and helps in thinking complex issues and produce answers through reasoning.
See How Three Parts Of Brain Work Independently
You , me and everyone else has actually come across this phenomenon but we never noticed it.
Imagine you just came out of your home and are walking on the silent evening when suddenly you hear someone shouting loudly. The initial reaction will be of shock or fear which is an act of reflexivity, because of your crocodile brain.
After that, you will try to make sense of it and understand the situation by identifying the person who is yelling and placing him in social context. This is the function of your midbrain which is trying to find meaning of things.
Lastly, the situation will be processed in the neocortex which then signals that it’s ok and it is some guy yelling to his known person, across the street.
So Where Does The Problem Lie?
Leading molecular biologist Criag Smucker concluded that when we pitch anything to someone, but it an idea, product, deal or anything else, then the highest level of our brain, the smartest part i.e. Neocortex is at play.
It is our neocortex which is forming ideas, putting them into a language and presenting them.
It is obvious that for such complex work, brain would use it’s smartest and most sophisticated part to understand and present complex things such as pitching.
I am sure by now you must have understood that even your client’s neocortex brain will be used to grasp your pitch. Right?
Well, this is where we all go wrong and go off track. Like everyone else, I also assumed that my complex strategies and idea making abilities are in neocortex(which they actually are), and that is where the people who listened to my pitch were processing.
Well, IT’S NOT!
We all apply the principal presented in “computer metaphor”.
When I send someone a file which is made in MS Power Point, that person will open the file in MS Power Point only to process it. We all think that our brain works exactly in the same manner. If I created a strategy using my neocortex, I assumed that the person whom I am sharing it with, will access that strategy using his or her neocortex only.
But, this is where the actual difference happen.
In reality, no pitch or message will ever reach the logic hub of the brain i.e. neocortex without passing through the survival filter i.e. crocodile brain.
And, because of the way we are evolved, this survival filter makes our pitching difficult.
We humans are soft, weak and slow species in comparison to a lot of organisms across the universe. We still have survived millions of years by seeing everything as threat or potentially dangerous. During our millions or years of evolution, because of this phenomenon, we humans have always been taking caution.
And, this became so deep rooted during the evolution that even now, our brain subconsciously takes caution when we encounter something new or overwhelming.
Reiterating on previous point, the fact that you pitching your idea from neocortex which is received by other person’s crocodile brain is the actual problem here.
Well, you must be wondering why is our brain wired that way ?
The reason is simple. The gap between the neocortex and crocodile brain is not to be measured in inches. It should be measured in the millions of years of evolution.
When you are sitting across the table from your prospect and talking about “strategy”, “audience insights”, “re-marketing”, “return on investment”, his or her brain will definitely not react to any of these highly evolved and complicated ideas.
It is reacting in the exact way it should. It is trying to determine whether the information coming is a threat or it can be ignored without any consequences.
It is obvious that after initial filtering, parts of your message(pitch) quickly passes through the middle brain and then to neocortex. I mean, meetings would be meaningless and odd otherwise. But, the damage to your message has already been done.
Firstly, because of the limited focus and capacity of the crocodile brain, up to 90% of your message is discarded before it is passed on to the midbrain which is then passed on to neocortex.
I hope this information goes to your neocortex unfiltered 😉
Secondly, unless your pitch is presented in such an amazing way that crocodile brain sees it as new and exciting (out of the box), it is going to be filtered down.
Lastly, if your pitch is complicated, with use of jargons, complex strategies while being in abstract language or lack ample amount of visual cues, it is perceived as a threat.
Before you start wondering that why a threat (definitely you are not going to kill someone with boredom), it is because without cues and context, the crocodile brain detects that your complex pitch is going to suck up massive amount of brain power to simplify it down.
This is where the threat lies because crocodile brain does not have enough brain power to handle survival needs, day to day problems, existing work issues and also decode your complex pitch in a way which you want it to.
In another words, you can say that crocodile brain is a lazy ass 🙂
When your brain come across such situation, a circuit breaker in your brain trips, shutting it down from absorbing the information.
After that, a neurotoxin gets attached to the potentially threatening message i.e. your pitch. Then your message is routed to amygdala for further processing and destruction.
Sounds like a movie right?
Well, similar to a girl roaming alone on Delhi’s street (no pun intended), there is only one place where your pitch should not end up i.e. amygdala. Amygdala is a fear circuitry of the brain which converts messages into physical sensations such as faster heart rate, sweating, increased breathing and increased anxiety.
It produces a feeling that makes the person want to escape from the situation , which right now is your pitch presentation.
I am sure that you definitely don’t what it to happen.
This is again our evolutionary hardwiring which has allowed humans to survive for millions of years.
Crocodile Brain At Work In Real Time Situation
When you are pitching your idea to your prospects, the crocodile brain of the person who is sitting in front of you is not thinking, ” Hmm, is this a good deal or not?”
It’s actual reaction during your complex pitch is, “Since this is not an emergency, how can I ignore this or spend the least possible time in this?”.
Crocodile brain’s filtering system has a very short sighted view, owing to the way it has evolved, or probably not evolved at all during the past millions of years.
Anything that is not a crisis, it marks it as SPAM.
I am sure now you want to know exactly how it’s filter works. it is something like this:
- If it is not dangerous, IGNORE IT
- If it is not new and exciting, IGNORE IT
As per researches in the field, 9 out of 10 messages that enter the crocodile brain, end up being thrown out without being effective.
The Crocodile brain is picky, lazy and a miser whose interest wholly lies in survival. It does not like to do a lot of work, is high maintenance too.
Does that remind you of somebody? 😛 🙂
It requires concrete evidence, presented in black and white in order to make a decision. Minor differentiation do not woo crocodile brain and remember, this is the part of brain you got to pitch.
Well, the harsh reality is that we have been thinking about this in a wrong way, for years. We definitely need a new way of pitching.
Irony is that, I am writing this article while sitting in a meeting, listening to the pitch. You can guess what my crocodile brain has done.
Is There A Solution To This?
Whenever we present a pitch, we always ask two questions to ourselves:
- Did I get through?
- Was my message well received?
Most of the times, we assume that our audience will do what we want them to do if our idea is good, we presented it flawlessly and showcased a winning personality.
The reality is that it doesn’t really work that way.
In true sense, it is most important that your message(pitch) fulfils two core objectives:
- It should not trigger any fear alarms
- It should be recognised as something positive, unexpected and out of the routine
Bypassing the fear alarms is truly different. Creating novelty in your idea can be tricky as well. But, it is the only way our pitch stands any chance because that lazy crocodile brain wants information in it’s own certain way i.e. simple, clear, non-threatening and most importantly, intriguing.
As crocodile is the gatekeeper to the mind, it does not have a lot of time to devote to new projects. It’s major responsibility is survival and it definitely cannot be pushed down into details.
It loves facts which are clearly explained and it needs you to get to the point, FAST.
It also goes to sleep during presentations, needing strong summarisation points to keep up with the attention.
Although, if it gets excited about something new or out of the box, it approves it. Otherwise, it gives up on it and goes to the next thought.
The harsh reality is that the crocodile brain, which is your target, will:
- Ignore you if possible
- Focus on the big picture, needing high contrast and well differentiated options to choose from
- Behave emotionally to what it sees and hear, although default emotional respons is fear
- Focus on the present situation for a short span of time, craving for something out of the box
- Need concrete facts
- Hates abstract concepts
Well, surely by now, we have understood one very important thing:
We understood the fundamental problem when we pitch something. Crocodile brain is afraid of almost everything and it needs simple, clear, direct and non threatening ideas to decide in our favour
Where Is The Solution?
The solution lies in only one thing i.e. bridging the gap between crocodile brain and neocortex. In other words, reach neocortex without getting chopped down.
If you need your pitch to go through exactly as you want it to , you need to be able to translate all of your complex ideas coming out of your neocortex and present it in a way your prospect’s crocodile brain likes.
And, there is a formula to do that.
It all begins with setting the frame for your pitch, putting your big idea in a simplified and easy to understand context. Once that is done, you need to seize high social status or authority, post which you create the message that is intriguing and novel.
I am sure the above sentence got kicked away by your crocodile brain. 🙂
Let me simplify it down for you.
You need to follow the process mentioned below as STRONG*
- Setting the Frame : Manipulating the way information is presented can influence and alter decision making and judgement about that information. Through the use of images, words, and by presenting a general context around the information presented we can influence how people think about that information.
- Telling the Story: Simplify your information through story telling, which makes it very easy for our brain to comprehend
- Revealing the intrigue: Offer something new, something out of the box or at-least sounds and looks like out of the box
- Offering the prize: What’s in it for them?
- Nailing the hookpoint : The most impressive pointer, solving their prime concern
- Getting a decision: Building trust, authority and sense of urgency while showcasing what are they losing by not taking action
We all know that there is no way in the world that each pitch we present, succeeds. There are thousands of factors which may control the decision of your prospect.
But, following the STRONG strategy, you can ensure that you stay much ahead of thousands of other people who are pitching to your prospects.
In further articles, I will introduce much more about the STRONG strategy while going into details. Meanwhile, it will be awesome to know how is your experience in pitching and have you cracked any code which makes your pitching AWESOME!
Share those in the comment section. 🙂
*STRONG is a term conceptualised by “Oren Klaff”, whose research was one of the sources for the information in this article.