The New Science of Sales and Marketing Persuasion

Putting Persuasion Science into Practice

For Sales & Marketing Messaging

By: Adrian O'Gara

I see too many companies with confusing messaging, value propositions with no clear value and unique selling points that aren't unique.

So I spoke with Dr Christophe Morin about the 30 years of scientific research and development found in his book 'The Persuasion Code',  and how sales and marketing can deliver more unique and persuasive messages with real value.
Here’s our Q&A:
Q: What is persuasion science? 
A: In short, it’s understanding and predicting buyer behavior using neuroscience. Most attempts to persuade are doomed to fail because the brains of your buyers automatically reject messages that disrupt their attention. So you have to stop confusing buyers and start persuading them.
Q: Why not use traditional research methods? 
A: If you look at the evidence, customers don’t know what they want. Traditional research methods don’t help you find what triggers buying decisions in buyers’ brains. So you need a scientific approach to capture persuasion insights which explain and predict why your customers choose to buy from you or get excited by your sales messaging, ads, videos or website.
Q. How does persuasion science help us persuade buyers? 
A: I have conducted neuromarketing research for over a decade.  I believe you cannot create an effective message without first unveiling your customers’ subconscious PAINS.   To truly reveal what motivates your customers to buy from you or pay attention to your messages, I use a unique suite of neuromarketing techniques such as facial imaging, layered voice analysis, eye tracking, EEG, and biometrics. With subconscious data collected from the skin, facial movements, the eyes, and the brain, I can decode the persuasive effectiveness of a company's messages.
Q: How can sales and marketing people use persuasion science? 
A: I’ve created a proprietary model called NeuroMap™. It’s designed to make the complex science of persuasion simple. Anyone can learn the powerful 4-step process – PAIN-CLAIM-GAIN-PRIMAL BRAIN – and acquire the confidence and skills to apply the model to their own business.


On-demand Webcast  |  The Persuasion Code  |  30 minutes QnA  |  Dr Christophe Morin   Watch Now

Q. What is PAIN in persuasion science? 
A: Diagnosing PAINS helps you unveil the most critical decision drivers that influence your buyers behavior. In persuasion science, we understand that the rational brain comes second to the primal brain. Our primal nature is to orient our attention to messages that awaken our fears. A product or solution that can clearly articulate which PAINS it can eliminate first will receive more consideration and create higher urgency.
Q. What is CLAIM in persuasion science? 
A: Start by identifying your unique CLAIMS. What are the top 1, 2 or 3 reasons for your customers to buy from you. Solidifying your CLAIMS will help your customers quickly understand what resolution you can bring to their PAINS. Choosing CLAIMS is a process, not just a creative exercise. Your CLAIMS must appeal first and foremost to the Primal brain. Your CLAIMS need to separate you clearly from your competition with a simple, tangible and recognizable benefit.
Q. What is GAIN in persuasion science? 
A: The GAIN is what the buyer gets in return for their purchase. You will need to demonstrate value to the Primal brain, in a way that is simple enough that even a non-expert would understand. Use customer testimonials or demos to, create ah-ha moments your targets needs to confirm a decision.
Q. What is PRIMAL BRAIN in persuasion science? 

A: Your Primal brain keeps you safe and manages critical internal states below our level of consciousness. Think of it like the memory chip and BIOS on a computer, with a set of basic instructions that control how your brain receives input and output. So it’s faster than the Rational brain. And the Primal brain dominates the processing of all persuasive messages.


So, once you have identified the PAINS, solidified your CLAIMS supported by your proofs of GAIN , you need to use specific techniques to engage the decision-making part of your buyer’s brain.   You will need to deliver a story so it moves their Primal Brain. By doing so, buyers will understand you, they will remember you and they will like you.  This will give them the final emotional incentive to buy from you.

Join Dr Christophe Morin and me at a 1-day workshop in London this April to learn how to apply the new science of persuasion to your sales & marketing messaging. Find out more.

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Gartner Stats on Buyers Enablement

B2B buyers only spend 17% of their time meeting with you — their potential suppliers. The rest of their time is spent researching elsewhere and having internal meetings about their project — when you’re not there. That’s according to Gartner’s latest research.

Gartner suggests buyers spend over a third of their time (38%) in internal meetings, with others in the buying centre, where salespeople are not present.

“Today’s buying journey isn’t just hard — it has reached a tipping point where it’s become nearly unnavigable without a significant amount of help,” said Brent Adamson, principal executive advisor at Gartner.

“However, customers today don’t really care where that help comes from. A conversation with a sales rep isn’t an end in itself, it’s simply a means to gathering the information necessary to complete specific buying ‘jobs.’ But, what matters isn’t the conversation, it’s the information provided.”

“Much like sales enablement, sales organizations must focus on what we call ‘buyer enablement’,” Adamson says. “Sales teams need to harness empathy, and their deep industry and customer knowledge to develop and deploy information to help buyers buy — just as they do to enable sellers to sell more easily.”

Gartner defines it as:

“Buyer enablement is the provision of information that supports the completion of critical buying jobs.”

In other words, it’s the age-old challenge of getting the right information to the right person at the right time.

Two areas of buyer enablement: 

1. Prescriptive advice involves do-this or don’t-do-this recommendations to ease the buyer’s journey.

2. Practical support gives customers the tools to action the prescriptive advice.

“So buyer enablement is about salespeople acting as “information connectors… curators or brokers of information rather than individual experts,” Adamson suggests.

So salespeople need to offer the buyer helpful tools and data. To help them simplify the buying process. This increases the chances that buyers will make a higher-value investment and reduce the chances they will fear regretting their investment.

As soon as B2B buyers add multiple suppliers to the process they spend even less time with your salespeople — as the above mentioned 17 percent of time with suppliers is split among all of them.

“If they are speaking to three potential suppliers you only get an average of 5-6 percent of their time.”

“When you start looking at this world of buying and just how complex it’s become, with all the different people involved and the amount of information… as individuals, we have incredibly limited access to our customers to have any kind of impact on all of that complexity,” Adamson says.

I personally translate this as, a major role for salespeople today is to help buyers to help themselves. Help them identify the best-fit solution and to sell their preferred solution internally. Enabling buyers to cut through the noise in their own organization, the competition, and your own organization’s noise. Be a trusted advisor to guide the buyer to make the best-informed decision and close the deal together.

Questions to consider:

  • How are you maximizing the limited time you have with clients?
  • How can you best support your customer through the buying process?
  • Is your sales and marketing optimized to help your ideal client’s buy?

What are your thoughts and experiences on this topic? Please share your feedback below.

[Writted by Adrian O’Gara, Founder & Principal at O’Gara-Co. First published 22 October 2018. Updated 5 September 2019.]