I admit that until recently I had no awareness that when I was going for a meeting with one client, in fact I have to deal with three interlocutors. Especially one of them, in fact two in one – Mr. Primary – is particularly important, and above all of his kindness lays my client’s favor and probably my future contract. It is therefore important to look at him closer. Just read him, understand the logic of his actions, or lack thereof. Mr. Primal, although can give quick and harsh sentences for us, despite appearances, it is simple in its design. That does not mean that it’s easy to make friends with him. It is surely worth putting effort in it. Who is that mystery Mr. Primal?
In the 50s of last century, Dr. Paul MacLean has come up with the theory of the triune brain, formed sequentially by superstructures in the process of evolution, three brains. Understanding their functioning, may, in a meaningful way, contribute to a better understanding of both our actions and reactions and conduct our interlocutors. It appears obvious to state that if we can better understand how the decision-making process of our customers works, anticipate their reactions, the more we increase the chances of future cooperation.
This text is not a treatise, which is why the descriptions contained herein are heavily simplified. They contain extracts of most critical information to increase our effectiveness in sales, negotiations, or establishing deeper relationships.
The oldest and most primitive part of the brain is called R-Complex (reptilian brain). This part of the brain is responsible for vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, temperature regulation, and our behaviors associated with procreation instincts and fight. And on this last item I would like to concentrate. Reptilian brain is our bodyguard. Just as centuries ago our original ancestors had a split of a second to decide whether to attack or flee so today the same reptilian brain (also called primary brain) in a split of a second take the same decision: ENEMY OR NOT THE ENEMY.
The only difference is that today’s fight is moved from the forest to the beautifully equipped office, meeting or conference room. Also, we do not have spears, but certainly some of us more than once would like to use such a tool during the discussion. But we keep our fashion and smile kindly, jabbing our client with “offensive” words. A typical and very common in use offensive tools – read verbal spear is the word „but”. If our customer will share with us even a small objection like: this would be only a third that kind of contract and we will answer „yes, but the other two were two times higher, and therefore we can say that our experience …” the reptilian brain of our client will say about us „ENEMY”.
The customer will not even be aware, why we did not aroused his confidence, as the primal brain works automatically and subconsciously.
Why is this happening I will describe after presentation of the next evolutionary layer of our brain called limbic system. It is responsible for regulation of our emotions and plays a significant role in the learning process. Thanks to limbic brain we feel what we feel at the moment, being exposed to various stimuli. When we become angry, when we are in love, when we panic or jump in a joy, limbic brain is responsible for that. For that brain, our „modern spear” is also extremely important.
For our purposes R-Complex in conjunction with the limbic system is so called “Mr. Primal”. On the basis of Mr. Primal and millions years later, has grown last element of the triune brain – the cerebral cortex. It fits our extraordinary intellectual capacity. Neo cortex (new brain cortex) collects and interprets all the information gathered by the sense organs, the logical brain; he is capable of planning and abstract thinking.
Undoubtedly the cerebral cortex gives us a definite advantage over other species that are walking on the Earth, so in key situations this same emotional center gives higher priority to Mr. Primal.
When we experience strong emotions reptilian brain still gives „judgment” – ENEMY, or not ENEMY. This happens automatically because neural connections are being cut off from the cerebral cortex and in that moment fades our logical thinking. In extreme cases we are dealing with so-called emotional kidnapping and uncontrolled explosion of anger. An examples of such reactions are well known to us from the situations on the roads or in the comfort of our home, when you can make a living at something or worse on someone, just because we had a terrible day.
Going back to our communication with three interlocutors. In the sales process, during discussions with the client, all the time we move around the subtleties of these three brains. At the same time not many of us is aware that what we love so much – the logical evidence, examples, translation, still remains at the mercy of Mr. Primal and his favor, above all, we need to win. Without it, the logic of our argument will vain and we will be disappointed again. All that we will be able to say is: „such a nice meeting, and still no contract.” If our client has doubts whether we can meet the task, because this is only our third contract and we will answer a series of evidence and arguments the reptilian brain of our client will find „that one does not understand my doubts, denies me, tries to prove that I’m wrong, and therefore this is ENEMY! Despite that we said a series of very logical arguments and examples that should convince our client that he will take the right decision, referring to cooperation with us, on a subconscious level client does not trust us.
So what to do with the reptilian brain so that it would say: „NO ENEMY”? And here it is revealed in all its glory – ease of achieving this objective by taking into account the logic and crazy difficulty of our habits and our Mr. Primal, who is repeatedly attacked by the Customer: „This offer is not well suited to our needs … „, ” price offered here is from the moon … „- says the” enemy „and corresponds often with attack, or ” verbal spear „, defending or proving to the Customer that is wrong. And we have a vicious circle, and the real agreement disappears somewhere in the distance.
And all you need to do is it to accept the customer with his doubts, objections, give him the right to them, accept it, sometimes it may come with difficulties, but still understand his emotions. And, above all develop internally a full convince that we are going to communicate, successfully go through the sales process, and do not walk with determination and keynote „I will sell”. And I’m talking here about unhealthy determination, because Mr. Primal immediately will read the tone of our voice and mimicry that do not operate for the benefit of him as a client. If we are convinced that something is good for our client than our so-called „Body language” also follows that.
The key is to remove from our vocabulary any „verbal spears” such as: no, but, must, but after all, why. Stop defend whenever client attacks, stop to argue, and instead learn to sufficiently control your emotions, be able to say: „yes, you have the right to have doubts, it is actually only our third contract, therefore you may fear whether we can meet this challenge, whether we have enough experience, being in your shoes I would also have questions .. „. Primary brain of our client hears „he agrees with me, confirms my doubts, do not fight and therefore is not an enemy”. Only then we can present our arguments, because in the end we want to cooperate. To say that you cannot argue, it does not mean that we cannot provide client information about our experience and strengths.
The key, however, is the sequence of events. Just as the triune brain evolved, firstly in the conversation we should care about Mr. Primal, and then we can talk to the logical cortex. Our everyday life and the world is so constructed that usually we immediately go to the logic, forgetting about emotions and the well-being of our interlocutor, because we say so wisely and customer should understand us. It is therefore worth listening to our customer’s emotions; accept their objections, because right here is the key to successful cooperation. Even if there are other „logical” reasons that did not allow signing the contract and there will be no sale, we build with our interlocutor relationship based on trust, which in one way or another is sure to pay off for us in the future. I wish, therefore, the same friendship with your interlocutors. The world will be by this a better place to spend time, and if at the same time it will increase the value of your portfolio, no one will mind that :)