The Curious Case of Primal Brain In Sales

People don’t sell to companies. People sell to people.

You have heard that enough times to have already made up your mind to not read this blog. But have you wondered why would that be the case? The answer’s far more interesting and if you stick along, I have a story to tell. I promise you will like it.

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People sell to people. If you probe deeper the gist comes down to one word: people look for familiarity. And if they can’t see that in your product, they won’t buy.

Let me explain. But first let’s take a step back.

Why do people look for familiarity? What is that so comforting? The answer is literally hidden inside of your brain: the primal brain. Basically our brain has evolved through millions of years and there are two parts to it: the primal and the rational brain.

Mindfulness? Don't think about it! - Columbia Spectator
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Your rational brain is about five million years old. But your primal brain is about five hundred million years old, a 100 times older than your rational brain. And evolution like habits, is hard to build and harder to let go. I tell myself I won’t binge watch while dining, but here we are day after day and show after show and dinners after dinners! Hard. Very hard.

Your rational brain is ummm…rational: it thinks about your past, present and the future. Logic is its forte.

But your primal brain only thinks about immediate experience. Back when we were about the bottom of the food chain, you wouldn’t think of a future, but food for today, surviving one more day in the wild. That’s your primal brain and it has stuck along.

Watch The Evolution Of Man's Face Over 6 Million Years In Just Over A  Minute | Human face, Evolution, Human evolution
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A million years ago you would go drink in the same spot of the river where the entire tribe drank coz you trusted the tribe.

Back to people selling people coz people have a primal brain that looks for familiarity. Take a look at the image below. Right under the product name notice that Amazon highlights two important things:

  1. 2553 ratings implying over 2k people already bought this
  2. “Amazon’s Choice” stating it clearly is also Amazon’s choice

What they are trying to do is to tell your primal brain to look for “trust”.

A million years ago you would go drink in the same spot of the river where the entire tribe drank coz you trusted the tribe. It bode familiarity. In twenty-first century when strangers invite strangers to come live with them (Airbnb), where strangers sell to strangers (ecomm sites like below), how do you elicit a sense of familiarity? By poking the primal brain: “Look! Thousands trust this!”

So how do you translate this into Sales? Storytelling. Let’s take an example of Whatfix, my current employer.

A sales rep selling Whatfix’s product could tell:

“Our product helps you navigate through your complex website. You can add a beacon if you want to bring attention to a new field among other things.”

Do not be surprised for people to turn off the cameras coz nobody wants to be seen yawning on your face.

Zoom fatigue' is real. Here's why you're feeling it, and what you can do  about it. - News @ Northeastern
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The above statement is correct. The product does that. But look at yourself as you read this: if you are not familiar with Whatfix, what chance do I have with the above statement to breed familiarity and thus trust? Hardly any.

And hence storytelling.

You have done your homework on the prospect on your call and you have seen her Insta story on Tomorrowland, one of the largest music festivals. You know she loves the music and adores this gala festival. Now the same narrative could be changed to the following:

Firefly Music Festival map —
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“Imagine you are at Tomorrowland. Thousands in the crowd. Music blasting off. It’s a nightmare to manage such a crowd and yet year after year the organizers seem to just do it brilliantly.

There are clear markers to where the food is, where washrooms are, where the security is, where can you seek medical help. There are large screens and important announcements. A complicated event that works smooth like a Swiss watch!

Exactly what we do at Whatfix: we ensure your users don’t get lost in the Tomorrowland of Enterprise applications, they always have help at hand knowing where to find something on their own, you have the ability to make important announcements to them right within the app, highlight a field to grab their attention and so much more!

If I may, Whatfix is an “Adoption Extravaganza!”

Sales Rep Animation by Laura Weiss on Dribbble
gif: lauraweiss

Do you see why the prospect would suddenly be warm and open to a demo?

Coz you bred familiarity with something she knows, your words evoked good memories and thanks to your narrative now she relates the good memory of Tomorrowland to your product!

You my friend just persuaded to her primal brain. You see there’s no logic here so far that should tell her why the demo would be great. It is the primal brain making the decision for her. And hence people sell to people coz people look for familiarity.

Go tickle a primal brain today! Happy Selling!

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