Introducing Context & The Reptilian Brain

“Neuroscientists have discovered over the years that our instinctual self has a greater impact on our final decision than the rational us, or even the emotional us.” – Patrick Renvoise

As humans, we rarely know what we truly want. In fact famed behavioral economist Dan Ariely has deemed even our most reasoned decisions as driven by emotion or influenced by outside forces. So in sales, this insight, that our instinctual brain is better at determining what we want over our rational or emotional brain, can lead us to closing more business versus the dreaded and familiar, “…I’ll think about it” when leveraged the right way. However, rooted in dense backgrounds such as behavioral economics and neuromarketing, how can we simplify this knowledge and apply it to our own world? With our biggest competition in sales being no decision, or status quo, sales reps need to now, more than ever, that introducing context into the equation early on can make them stand out and move the sale forward effectively.

Before we look directly at context, let’s lay the foundation with what leading neuromarketer Patrick Renvoise refers to as, “awakening the reptilian brain“. The process, a combination of speaking to self interest and leveraging human’s respondent nature to contrast and visuals, can organically lead the prospect from cold and uninterested, to warm and ready to move forward. While easy to confuse with manipulation at first glance, this is far from manipulating the truth to appeal to the prospect, and instead, speaks to a more urgent need. As the inclination for status quo on the side of the prospect is too heavy of a force to depend on a stock PowerPoint, you, the salesperson, will have to move the prospect through the sales cycle and into becoming an active client. Why not use everything at your disposal to make the task easier?

Context – Sales context aligns the right solution with the right business challenge the prospect is facing. According to strategist Tim Riesterer, context creates a “clear, compelling sense that they won’t be able to hit their objectives by staying where they are that will prick the old brain’s survival instincts and cause it to start looking for an alternative to the status quo.” Some key questions to use that will create context are:

What was your biggest challenge last year?

What issues are at the utmost priority at the moment, and what’s the biggest roadblock standing in the way?

What steps are you taking to alleviate this problem?

What has happened in the past when you miss your target?

What does that mean for your boss and customers to fall short in this area?

Have your competitors been able to solve this problem?

Would your top 5 customers agree with your assessment, or have you put them in a position to need to shop around?

This line of questioning creates an opportunity for you to attain the prospects point of view enabling you to attack pain points that matter to them most. I will continue to explore more on the reptilian brain, as well as other neuromarketing concepts to stand out among others targeting the same leads. Please analyze your pipeline and recent sales correspondence to see where this can fit into your process. Perhaps adding one context driven question into your discovery can frame the conversation the right way for you to finally create a sense of urgency on the side of the prospect. Let me know if this resonates with you or if you already leveraging context with prospects and how you do it! Good luck in the field and have a productive week!

Aston Fleming


Further Insight:


“Flow”, The Comfort Zone, and The Power of Checking In

“In the end, even though we might feel powerless in situations outside our comfort zone, we have more power than we think.” – Andy Molinsky | Harvard Business Review

As we close out Q4, most sales reps and executives have one thing on there mind – “How did I perform in relation to my yearly goal/budget AND where does that leave me in terms of my goals and growth potential for next year?” However, the question highlights something deeper to me – the value and need for recurring evaluation and accountability. The value and need to check in.

One benefit of checking in is the abilitiy to identify what inspires you and when your most in flow. It has been researched by many, including Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, that one effective way to increase performance and fulfillment is to spend more time in flow.  This intensely focused mindset offers what Mihaly deems, “deeper enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.” For some reps and executives, leveraging flow state can be the difference between making or missing budget, or landing that client with ideal revenue potential. But how can you spend more time in this productive zone if your not consistently identifying your state and its effect on your performance?

If this self awareness seems foreign to you, it could be a red flag that the systems in your routine lack what is needed to identify whether your ahead or behind. Wing city as it was referred to by one of my first mentors in sales. Wing city is a very unforgiving and lowly place to reside and can have an insidious effect on a sales professional’s confidence and propensity to remain in their comfort zone.

So what’s the answer, and why do I need to highlight this before diving directly into The Check In? Simple. To identify the paradoxical relationship between control and freedom. While you may not want to buy a condo in Wing City, so to speak, you probably won’t want to set up shop on Rigid Island either. Each step of the way, at every fork in the road, you and I will need to “do the dance” – and re-calibrate what works and what doesn’t by balancing the need to control pitfalls, vices, while remaining fluid, curious, and playful with your approach and attitude. So let’s close this year out strong and open the next one even stronger with a commitment to cultivating this awareness in your game plan and choosing to dismantle age old questions like “What is it about the comfort zone that feels so good anyway?”, “Can I remain in this so called flow thing?”, and the inevitable “…so can I check in with you?”

Till next time.

Aston Fleming