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Would You Buy from the Presidential Candidates?

Knowing how to pull the right levers helps win customer votes

It’s no coincidence that the language, strategies and tactics of the U.S. presidential candidates mirror those of sales professionals. As they run sophisticated campaigns and work tirelessly to outmaneuver opponents, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and their challengers are competing in a sales battle royale.

 

While each candidate has a unique personality and communication style, do they understand how tointentionally communicate in a way that drives favorable decision-making? Like most salespeople, some of them naturally connect better than others, but is connection enough? What about credibility?

Wrong Focus and Target

Unfortunately, most politicians, as well as professional salespeople, start with the wrong focus and target their message at the wrong part of their audience’s brain.

Would You Buy from the Presidential Candidates

Recent research on how brain biology affects decision-making reveals that self-preservation — by avoiding a loss or attaining a gain — is the key emotional driver. We automatically dismiss any message that doesn’t arouse our senses in one of those two areas. What’s more, research shows the brain uses twice the deciding power to avoid a loss as to pursue a gain.

Candidates’ Sales Beauty Contest

Let’s evaluate the presidential candidates as sales competitors. Suppose you are a business decision-maker looking for a unique solution to a serious problem. You whittle your prospective supplier list to four companies and invite their top salespeople to present.

As you interview these sales professionals, you subconsciously will be influenced by messaging that pulls six primary levers that drive decision-making. These levers relate to emotional, visual, experiential, contrast, simplicity and egocentric cues.

How the contenders stack up

Donald Trump’s message is built around risk of loss, as well as credibility. He begins by telling you everything that’s wrong with the world you’re living in. He does a great job of setting up the risk of staying the same. He uses visuals marginally well, and his message is simple to understand. He talks a lot about his proven problem-solving ability and spends much time listing his references. While pulling the emotional and simplicity levers well, he doesn’t create much contrast through specificity. Nor does he experientially involve you to the point where you can see what’s in it for you. His pitch is high on emotion and low on details.

Hillary Clinton starts by touting her years of experience and track record, and then shifts into a message about a client very similar to you. She does well at involving you in the conversation, but speaks in generalities with little emotion. Her message resonates if you already believe she’s the answer. However, if you’re leaning toward staying with your current “supplier,” she struggles. She gets high marks for simplicity and experiential moments, but low grades on emotion, visual details and contrast.

As Ted Cruz begins his pitch, he strikes a conversational tone and sets up the state of the union from an extremely detailed perspective. He dives into the legality of doing things the wrong way and stresses risk of loss. However, he has trouble painting a visual picture and helping you experience his message. He uses emotion well, but doesn’t translate it into a simple, what’s-in-it-for-you way. He comes across as a smart, tactical guy with a good handle on the facts, but you’re not sure he completely “gets it” from your perspective.

Bernie Sanders comes in looking disheveled and unorthodox, but immediately puts the room at ease with his likability. He launches into a great story about why the problem exists and that it’s not your fault that you haven’t solved it. He speaks passionately about why the system is set up against your succeeding as a business, and for a moment, he really sucks you in. But he loses you when he starts talking about the details of his solution and has difficulty connecting his plan with your pain points. He is high on emotion but can’t create enough contrast to convey the personal value of using his solution.

Missing Element: Storytelling

As you and your team review the presentations, the feedback is a mixed bag across the board. Each candidate for your business demonstrated strengths, but nearly all of them came up short in one key area: storytelling. They all struggled to create visual, experiential pictures that pulled you into the narrative emotionally and allowed you to see the problem in a new light. They also had trouble portraying significant contrast between the cost of your problem and how they are uniquely qualified to solve it.

Without clear differentiation, your choice will be difficult. You’ll likely just go with your gut and the cheapest price. (In politics, the cheapest price usually equates to the closest alignment with your positions on the one or two issues that mean the most to you. Maybe it’s taxes; maybe it’s social matters.)

Like the presidential candidates, salespeople in the race for client business are missing tremendous opportunities because they need to better understand how and why people say yes. Then they need to deliver compelling narratives, taking full advantage of limbic levers.

When you as a salesperson communicate through this process, you turn ideas into beliefs. The intensity of a prospect’s beliefs will drive the urgency of his or her behavior. If you want my vote, you need to convince me to believe strongly by appealing to these decision-making levers in my brain. It’s not rocket science. It’s neuroscience.

by: Jeff Bloomfield, CEO of Braintrust

Source: salesandmarketing.com

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