Brains behind the operation
Understanding neuroscience can boost sales.
Men’s Warehouse CEO George Zimmer.
Photo courtesy of Men’s Warehouse.
“You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.”
That’s the slogan Men’s Warehouse CEO George Zimmer uses in the clothier company’s television commercials. The slogan is memorable for a reason. The catchy tagline contains two of Yale Research’s 10 most powerful selling words for emotional brains — you and guarantee.
Elkay National Director of Education and Design Robb Best explained the importance of this and much more during his “The Sales Brain: Building Sales Presentations Using Neuroscience” two-part talk at the recent Luxury Products Group Luxury Showcase in Palm Desert, Calif.
Best, a 26-year veteran of the plumbing and cabinet industry and a certified kitchen designer since 1992, presented a plethora of fascinating information on how the brain works and how it factors into selling situations from both customer and salesperson standpoints.
“If you understand how customers make decisions you can influence those decisions and radically increase selling based on neuroscience,” Best told the audience.
Best started with some statistics on the brain, namely it weighs 3 lb., contains 100 billion neuron connections (you have more when you are born and can gain more by learning a second language at a young age with bonus neurons awarded for mastering Chinese), is approximately 60% fat, generates 60 watts of power a day, and was designed and programmed for living conditions 40,000 years ago.
When that customer comes into your showroom looking to buy a new kitchen faucet, neuroscience comes into play in many different ways.
Best explained the brain has a short-term memory base that holds roughly four to seven items at a time. To emphasize, Best recited those 10 powerful selling words to the audience. He then asked us to write down as many of the words as we could remember. One person in the audience remembered all 10 (Best was shocked by that; it almost never happens). The greatest number of people in the room remembered the first and last word. The least amount of people remembered the fourth, fifth and sixth words. Include key information at the beginning and end of customer interactions.
Best recommends emphasizing visual over verbal in a sales setting. “The brain is not designed to read words. It’s designed to operate through vision,” Best said. “When you deliver verbal information, the customer will forget 90% of what you said within 72 hours. The most powerful thing you can do is present visual images.”
Encouraging a customer to touch an item is even better. “The minute you get them to physically touch, it’s coded in their memory,” Best said. “The more you incorporate the senses the more powerful the sale.”
Another key is not to bombard a customer with too many choices. “Thirty percent of people who walk into a showroom walk out because they are overwhelmed,” Best said.
Best gave the example of a New York magazine stand that reduced its stock from 664 different titles to 400 in 20 sorted categories. Sales increased 28%. He referenced another study where 24 brands of jam were displayed in a grocery store. While 60% of people stopped, only 3% purchased. When the jam display was reduced to six brands, 40% stopped, but 30% purchased.
“The more you categorize, the easier it is for the brain to understand,” he said. “Fifty percent of the brain is devoted to vision.”
Best said decisions in the selling process should be made only between any two choices at a given time. “Do not present another faucet without first removing the rejected faucet,” he said.
How salespeople present themselves to customers is another critical component in the selling process. Best noted it’s the salesperson who determines what the customer’s first impression will be. Body language is, by far, most important. Tonality and speech are a distant second and third respectively. Speech, he said, is the last thing a customer will focus on. Best even provided tips on shaking hands and certain body language that should be avoided, particularly folding of the arms.
The brain is an amazing piece of equipment. Understanding its intricacies can only help you and your customers in the long run.