Category Archives: Sales & Marketing

Brand Knowledge Affects Behavioral Preferences

Samuel McClure and his group at Princeton University conducted a fascinating study investigating the cultural influences on human perceptions and behavioral preferences. Briefly, they selected coke and pepsi (two nearly identical beverages relative to chemical composition) and conducted taste tests, while recording brain responses using functional MRI. The results were interesting:

a) Preference was split equally for Coke and Pepsi in absence of brand information. In other words, relying solely on sensory perception (ventromedial prefrontal cortex), there was no significant difference.

b) When subjects (with stated preference for Coke) were asked to choose between Coke labeled cup vs no label cup, there was distinct preference for Coke labeled cups (even if both the cups contained coke). Moreover in these subjects, additional areas of the brain including the hippocampus, midbrain and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex exhibited activity, suggesting that they also play a role in modifying behavior based on emotions. On the other hand, subjects with preference for Pepsi did not show statistically significant brand influence. The Coke brand thus evoked relatively stronger emotional response.

The study was published in 2004 and can be accessed here.

Jill Konrath – Snap Selling

Potential customers are under growing pressure to do more, with less  money, less time and fewer resources.  This challenge is exacerbated by  increasingly crazy-busy workplace with excessive workloads, information overload and 24/7 availability.   Under these conditions, making a sale can be a daunting task.

 According to the author, there are four factors that should be at the forefront of every sales person when working with busy prospects. These are called the SNAP factors.

  1. Simple: Can you help eliminate complexity and effort from your prospect’s decision making process?
  2. INvaluable: What value do you, personally, bring to this relationship with a potential customer?
  3. Aligned: Are you able to stay consistently focused on the client’s needs at all times?
  4. Priority: Finally, are you able to convey to your client that your services are not only valuable but essential?

Every touch point (e.g. email, phone call,  in person meeting) should be evaluated against these factors, so that you stay on point and are laser focused on the client’s needs. The first step to a successful sale is to understand the customer pain points and then create a message that  piques the prospect’s curiosity and allows access.

But piquing their curiosity, is not nearly enough. You have to demonstrate value and consistently, that differentiates you, personally, from your competition.  Do you demonstrate understanding of customer’s needs, issues or objectives? Are you able to offer ideas or suggestions that might be useful to clients, outside of your product or service?  If not,  you should, by getting intimately familiar with their business. This is a key step to building loyal customer relationships.

Once you have their attention and become invaluable to them, the next step is to demonstrate the value your product or services offer. And beyond that,  demonstrate alignment with the core beliefs they value in their business relationships. Let’s face it, we prefer to do business with people, who are like-minded.

Last but not the least,  be aware of customer priorities as they are constantly shifting.  Target prospects whose priority projects you can help with and if possible help raise priorities.  If you can address a priority pain point, the sales process goes much faster.

I think the book is a very good read and offers useful ideas and techniques to hone our sales conversation skills.   You can get more information about the book and/or the author here.