The Secret to Extraordinary Sales Success

What is this thing called hot cognition? It’s where numerous critical functions in the brain “light up” at the same time around a specific idea or opportunity. It’s a convergence of logic, IQ, EQ, memory, and other brain functions to ignite creativity, desire, and drive. The neuroscience is a little more complicated than that but think of the brain as a starship where Hot Cognition happens when “warp speed” is engaged.

What does this have to do with sales?

Have you ever been in a sales situation when everything just seemed to click? There was real energy in the buyer-seller dynamic. Enough energy to move the sales process forward with few roadblocks or slowdowns. A time when both the buyer and salesperson worked together so well that closing the sale was a foregone conclusion. If you’ve experienced that, then you have experienced hot cognition. Hot cognition is the place where emotional drivers, logic, experience, behavior, and the human dynamics all align to open a clear and accelerated pathway to a successful sale.

emotion and logic

The buyers perspective – “People buy on emotion and justify with logic.
This is a sales adage we’ve heard before, but it is true. Research shows that emotional drivers are a primary component in the buying decision. From the buyer’s perspective, these emotional drivers may look like:

  • Who could I become if this is a successful purchase? (hope, excitement, curiosity)

  • What will I be able to do that I could not do before? (relief, excitement, inspiration)

  • How will others see me when this purchase is successful? (hope, energy, acceptance)

  • What issues will this resolve for me? (optimism, hope, curiosity)

  • How will I be rewarded when this is a success? (happy, excitement, energy)

You can see how emotional drivers a big part of the decision-making process. Sure, logic, experience, and facts play a role, but the real energy comes from igniting the whole brain of the buyer and helping them see and FEEL the potential outcomes.

Most sales training today relies on technique. Ask the right questions, leverage features and benefits, follow a sequence of steps, capture data on a CRM system, use AI in the sales process. Sales techniques and tools are good, but this is only one element of being successful in the sales process. It’s called Influence.

colored door

The human dynamics of sales have three critical elements: connection, trust, and influence. To be extraordinarily successful in sales, these have a sequence that I have found to be an equation:

Connection + Trust = Influence

Think of it as having a bank account where the goal is to grow the amount of Influence that you can spend with a prospect. As the salesperson makes deposits of connection and trust, the level of available influence grows.

Connection and trust building are the foundation that the buyer-seller relationship is built on. The stronger the foundation, the greater the ability to influence and the greater the potential lifetime value of the customer.

So how does Hot Cognition work in the sales process?

The salesperson’s perspective – Many experts have claimed that relationship selling is dead. Nothing could be further from the truth! But it has transformed. The old relational selling model may not work as well, but the transformation to neuroscience-based selling uses cutting-edge science to accelerate sales success.

trusted advisor

Think about an entirely new relational dynamic in selling. A place where the salesperson becomes more than a vendor, more than a friend. They become the trusted advisor to the buyer. A trusted advisor is a combination of emotions (trust) and solutions that fit the buyer’s needs (advisor). With what we now know about the neuroscience of the brain, we can take relationship selling to entirely new and more productive levels that turbocharge sales success.

There are many things a salesperson can do to engage Hot Cognition in the mind of the buyer. We will focus on four areas.

  • Trust in the salesperson – Sales trust is the rocket fuel of the selling process. Without trust, it’s difficult to move the sales process forward, and the likelihood of experiencing roadblocks and resistance is much greater. Getting the buyer to trust the salesperson (more than the product or service) is critical to sales success. This happens when the salesperson is seen by the buyer as a person, not a salesperson.
    • How to increase trust – by showing the buyer that the salesperson is more than just a representative of a company. They are a real person with real passions, hopes, and dreams. Pictures of the salesperson’s loving family, a special moment with family or friends or serving others is a way to engage the buyer in connection and trust.
    • The neuroscience at work – when a buyer sees the salesperson as a loving and caring individual, oxytocin is released in the brain of the buyer. Oxytocin is the hormone that is most closely related to feelings of trust and familial relationships. Oxytocin will create levels of trust far beyond that of logical features and benefits of products and services. This engages the mirror neurons in the buyer’s brain in positive ways.
  • The buyer feels rewarded in the sales process – This is when the buyer increases their belief in who they will become, what they will have or what they will be able to do if they buy from the salesperson. It is a visualization process.
    • How to make the buyer feel rewarded – When the salesperson can “paint a picture” of who the buyer may become, what they will have that they desire and/or what they will be able to do when they buy, this creates desire based on the buyers beliefs of what could be. The salesperson can help the buyer to imagine what is possible thus igniting the reward system in the brain.
    • The neuroscience at work – when the buyer believes that desirable outcomes are an outcome of the purchase, then dopamine (the reward hormone) is released in the brain. The buyer’s mirror neurons kick in helping them to experience this reward even though it is not yet a reality. Dopamine provides a powerful reward experience.
  • The buyer experiences happiness or joy when with the salesperson – when the salesperson uses humor or brings accounts that are enjoyable to the connection, the buyer is more relaxed and receives enjoyment from connection with the salesperson.
    • How to help the buyer experience happiness or joy – the salesperson can use humor and relate stories that are full of joy to create deeper connection by engaging the buyer’s brain in a more relaxed and optimistic mode.

The neuroscience at work – when the buyer experiences happiness or joy in connection with the salesperson, the mirror neuron network in the buyer’s brain signals the brain to release endorphins. Endorphins create a feel-good state in the buyer’s brain that is more relaxed and where they can experience an increase in enjoyable emotions.

  • The buyer experiences a driving desire to buy – when all of these elements come together, the buyer can experience a driving desire (excitement/enthusiasm) to move forward and make the purchase.
    • How to generate a desire to buy in the buyer’s brain – If the salesperson were to use powerful questions like “What if…” this moves the buyer to consider what it would be to move to that better place…or, what it would be like to live without it.
    • The neuroscience at work – when the buyer is motivated to this degree, adrenaline is released which is a driving hormone. It motivates the buyer to move forward and act and creates a win/loss choice in their mind. If they buy, they win. If they do not, they may lose.

When used together, these powerful methods based in neuroscience can create experiences of Hot Cognition in the buyers mind by both magnifying and accelerating sales success!

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Steve Goodner is the President of GSCFIT, and a Preferred Partner with Six Seconds, the world’s largest emotional intelligence community. GSCFIT is dedicated to equipping and empowering individuals, leaders and organizations through Focus, Insight and Transformation (FIT).