How Your Prospect Really Thinks?

A lot of sales organizations start with the basics.  Unfortunately, a lot of the basics are from the 1980’s and don’t work anymore.  The world of selling has changed.

It used to be make 100 cold calls per day, get 5 appointments and close 1-2 sales – it’s a numbers game, brow beat your prospect until they say “yes”, never take “no” for an answer.  Really?  That doesn’t sound like much fun and the industry numbers regarding turnover and success in sales back that up.  Big time!

According to Hire Results LTD, the total number of sales people employed at the top 500 firms in America is 21,300,000!  The turnover numbers within the first year range from 5% to 30% and in some cases even higher.  Let’s take the median number there – 17.5% which equates to almost 4 million people turning over.  Ouch – talk about increased costs!

I want to make something clear – selling is hard work and you need to be a lifetime student in order to keep improving.    

Shouldn’t businesses today start with really understanding how their prospects think and make buying decisions?  I don’t want to get into a massive neurological discussion here but it does make sense to understand how the human brain works.

In his great book, Pitch Anything author Oren Klaff talks about the three parts of the human brain and more specifically how they relate to presenting information.  Klaff talks in detail about the disconnect between the way we “pitch” or sell anything and the way the information is received by our audience or prospects.

I’ve talked a lot about all “the noise” out there today relating to the massive amounts of information we take in daily and how competitive the business landscape is today.  How do you get your message heard?

There are three parts of the human brain;                                                                         

  • crocodile brain
  • mid-brain
  • neocortex

The crocodile brain is the oldest of the three parts and its main purpose is to act as a filter for all incoming messages.  It is our survival mechanism that produces strong basic emotions.  The crocodile brain is very poor at decision making however, which will come in to play here shortly.

The mid-brain determines the meaning of things and social situations.

The neocortex is the most advanced of the three parts of our brain and it deals with more complex issues like problem solving and produces answers for us.

When we are selling ideas, concepts, products or services we are using the neocortex part of our brain.  It formulates our ideas, organizes them and helps present them in a logical manner.

The assumption (not even knowing) we all make is because we use the neocortex part of the brain to present ideas that our audience uses their neocortex to receive these same ideas.  Therein lies the fundamental problem.

Klaff explains how human beings use their croc brain to receive all messages initially.  Remember, this part of your brain acts as a filter.  We receive all types of messages each day and we view everything as potentially harmful or dangerous at first.  This is the croc brain working at its best.

The croc brain is always thinking how can I ignore this or spend as little time possible on it.  Is this exciting and new?  Is this dangerous?  Do not send any information up to the neocortex for processing unless the situation is unexpected and out of the ordinary.

If your presentation or ideas are complicated or boring they are immediately send to the amygdala for processing and immediate destruction.  The amygdala is the part of your brain wired for fear and that is the last place you want your message to go to.  The amygdala produces feelings of stress – increased heart rate, sweating and faster breathing.

The croc brain likes large chunks of simplistic data – it doesn’t like details and is very lazy when it analyzes incoming messages.  The main reason the croc brain is lazy is it already has a massive job and that is taking care of you.  It oversees your life and the way you operate.  It doesn’t have time for anything else.

Simply put, the croc brain wants simple, clear information that is new, exciting and intriguing. 

No wonder most sales people stink at delivering engaging messages.  We’ve lost the battle before it even began.  How do we overcome this to be successful?

More to come on that but let’s remember we need to understand ourselves and our prospects before anything else.  Knowing that information will give you a step up on 95% of the competition and ultimately win you more business.


Greg McKinney is a respected sales leader and is nationally know as a speaker, sales coach and consultant.  He believes in helping others and serving the good of humanity.  His phenomenally popular website is a must see for all sales leaders, small business owners and sales professionals.

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