Left Brain vs. Right Brain Selling

There is no such thing as a cold, rational, dispassionate buyer who buys solely on merit. Most decisions are influenced by emotion and similar feelings.

I once asked a purchasing agent who had placed an order with a manufacturer for products which he might have been able to purchase for less, “Why do you do business with this particular company?” His response was lengthy and contained specific references to the following emotions:

  • He trusted and liked the salesperson.
  • He felt the company was reliable.
  • In a previous dealing with them, he developed confidence in them.
  • The company seemed to care when a customer developed a problem.

In further questioning, he commented on the size of their manufacturing facilities and their quality control and customer service departments. Later I asked him if he had ever personally seen the plant or any of the departments he mentioned. He admitted he had never seen them, yet he was convinced of their existence and superiority.

Herein lies a portion of our proof on the importance of emotion in selling. If all aspects of his belief are true, he was nonetheless basing his decision on information supplied to him by the salesperson. The credibility, as well as other factors of the company’s substance, are validated by buyers largely based on their feelings toward the salesperson.

Frequently it is the energy, enthusiasm and creativity with which the product is presented that accelerates the prospect’s interest. Thus a great product or service which is poorly presented during a sales presentation may not get sold, while one of lesser quality which is presented well is purchased.

This is not an argument for emotional pitches in place of quality, service, and reliability. Rather, it is an appeal for more creative sales presentations.

Many years ago, we started teaching the practice of left versus right brain appeal in selling. Let’s review some of the ways the experts claim the two hemispheres of the brain function in terms of oral and written language.

Left Brain: Logic, practicality, statistical data, analytical thinking, technical problem-solving, proposal evaluation, arithmetic projections, procrastination, structured resistance, laconia, and pessimism.

Right Brain: Enthusiasm, creativity, visualization, humor, emotional response, impulse actions, upbeat feelings, analogies, allegories, rhythm, and optimism.

It is important to develop a sales presentation which is properly balanced between right and left brain appeal. The variations in balance are based on the product, the market, and the general buying style of the prospects. Let’s look at some examples:

First, consider products such as electronic devices which are frequently sold to engineers. In developing a presentation in this case, we would suggest an over-balance towards left brain thinking: problem-solving, statistical data, and logic. These have specific appeal to the buying patterns of this type of prospect, the engineer.

We would also include appeals to the right brain thinking with visualization and enthusiasm. This would encourage the prospect to visualize the product in successful application, reducing or eliminating problems, contributing to a quality image, etc. This enthusiasm encourages upbeat feelings in the prospect and a sense of well-being about the relationship between vendor and customer.

In another example, real estate sold to home buyers, we would suggest a presentation that is overbalanced toward right brain thinking: visualization, creativity, emotional response, and impulse actions.

A sound presentation of a home which meets the prospect’s needs has the prospect mentally moving in, placing furniture, and viewing the family in the setting. It encourages the prospect’s creativity toward changes in the decorations, furnishings, and landscaping. It prompts emotional responses whenever highlights of the home are presented.

Left brain thinking might be projected in the sales presentation toward practicality and statistical data. The practical aspects of the home could be brought out, like touting the needs of proximity to schools, churches, businesses, airports or shopping centers. Statistical data might relate to the turnover rate of houses in the area, equity increases, energy conservation features, potential return on investment, and tax savings.

If you examine again the appeals to each side of the brain, you might conclude that most decisions are weighed in the left brain and made in the right brain. Irrespective of the product or service, when the appeal is strictly to the left brain, the decisions are delayed, concepts are over-intellectualized, price becomes more of an issue, and the potential for conflict increases. Fortunately, it is possible to direct what is normally left brain data to the right hemisphere by using visuals and making the presentation in enthusiastic, positive, optimistic, and upbeat language.

In preparing and delivering your sales presentation, appeal to both brain hemispheres, but favor the right brain for those emotional appeals that close sales.

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