Singing for Sales

Every experienced sales manager has a trick or two when it comes to hiring the best candidate for an open sales position. After a candidate passes the initial resume screening process, one manager might check out the applicant’s shoes. Another might pay close attention to how well the individual responds to an unexpected question. Here’s a new one: does the candidate talk in a melodic way?

Confidence Beats Competence

What are the ideal characteristics for a person in a sales position? Great people skills? Strong product knowledge? Add confidence to the list. Continuing a discussion started in Convince With Confidence, there’s more evidence that the average person finds a confident demeanor persuasive, even when the confidence may mask a lower level of competence.

Selling to the Right Ear

If you want to get someone to do something, speak into his right ear. Research by Dr. Luca Tommasi and Daniele Marzoli from the University Gabriele d’Annunzio in Chieti, Italy, shows not only that we have a preference for processing spoken information via our right ear, but requests made to that ear are more likely to be successful:

Show You Trust Your Customer

Want your customers to trust you? Demonstrate that you trust THEM! This may seem counterintuitive, but there’s sound neuromarketing reasoning behind it. The concept revolves around that seemingly magical neurochemical, oxytocin, which is a key factor in forming trust relationships. Paul J. Zak, director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University and unofficial oxytocin evangelist, relates a story about how in his younger days he was the victim of a small-scale swindle. He now concludes that a key factor in getting him to fall for the con was that the swindler demonstrated that he trusted Zak.

Smell Better, Sell More

Does a better-smelling product work better? Probably not, but people will THINK it does. Research shows that people rated a better-smelling product higher in completely unrelated performance areas. Reading Whiff! The Revolution of Scent Communication in the Information Age by Brumfield, Goldney, and Gunning, I was led to The Smell Report, a white paper authored by Kate Fox and published by the Social Issues Research Centre. The paper cites two examples of consumer perceptions being influenced by scents:

Small Favors, Big Success

Most of us need to persuade people that we don’t know personally to do things. A salesperson wants to close a deal. An office worker needs to persuade the new computer guy to fix her computer first. A fundraiser wants to get a potential donor to make a pledge. Our natural instinct in such situations is to avoid asking the individual we want to persuade for any favors other than the one that’s important to us. After all, the only thing worse than being asked for a favor is being asked for multiple favors, right? As you might expect here at Neuromarketing, the obvious and logical conclusion is wrong. Behavioral research shows us that sometimes asking for one favor first can greatly increase the probability of success with the second favor!

Our Prejudiced Brains

Years ago, I worked with a group of field representatives selling industrial equipment, and found that many had interesting adaptations to local culture in different parts of the U.S. One based in Texas always kept a Western-cut sheepskin jacket in his car. If he was visiting a plant in a remote location, he’d shed the suit coat he wore in Dallas and put on the rugged-looking jacket. The reps in Detroit, meanwhile, were always careful to show up in the appropriate brand of vehicle – one wouldn’t take a Ford engineer to lunch in a Chevy! While these strategies of blending in may seem obvious, it turns out there’s some sound neuromarketing involved.

Are Women Better At Sales?

In our recent article on The Mating Mind, we described how “romantically primed” men were much more likely to spend lots of money than men who were not so primed, and than women in either condition. Separately, we’ve also noted that female salespeople seem to dominate some areas, and that these women seem to skew toward the attractive end of the spectrum. One example is the pharmaceutical sales rep, who prototypically is an attractive female who spends much of her time calling on a predominantly male physician customer base. That’s an overgeneralization, of course – there are lots of female docs, and lots of male drug reps. Still, the stereotype is sufficiently valid that a physician acquaintance of mine expressed mock shock at seeing a middle-aged male drug rep, quipping, “I don’t think I’ve seen one of those before.”