5 Questions

By Kim Cartlidge  February 28, 2010

Brain Triggers


The new edge in sales is a mash-up of traditional marketing and neuroscience—neuromarketing—that focuses on appealing to the most primitive part of the human brain. That “old brain,” as Dean Minuto, a partner in California-based SalesBrain, terms it, is also “the decider”; and understanding what triggers it to buy can help anyone develop a more successful sales strategy.

Minuto will present, “Neuromarketing Strategy: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain,” at a CEO Summit hosted by Vistage Florida on March 25 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota.

How is neuroscience applicable to marketing?

We all have three distinct brains: the new brain that processes data, the middle brain that is responsible for emotional processing and the old brain that actually releases decisions. There are six triggers in the primitive part of the brain called the “old brain,” and when you understand those six triggers, you can accelerate the sales cycle, close more business and trigger faster buying decisions.

Is there really a “buy button” in the human brain?

The four-step process we teach is very simple, and it’s on our Web site: Diagnose the pain, differentiate your claim, demonstrate your gain and deliver to the old brain. There are neuromarketing departments at Yale and Harvard. It’s not a fad or a pseudoscience. GE is our largest client, and GE is using these tools in 20 different countries. Neuromarketing was used in the last election to test every campaign message before it was delivered.

Can you offer an example?

Folks are focused on their own survival and their own pain. The reason why Hyundai is selling more cars in the past two years than ever before is because their campaign was, “If you lose your job, we’ll buy back your car.” The pain in the auto market had nothing to do with cars. It had to do with fear of losing your job. Hyundai has only had to take back 100 cars, and they’ve sold millions ahead of their plan. 

How does neuromarketing improve the customer experience? 

It helps them to understand far more quickly how an organization or product can solve a problem for them or help them with a need. It’s about avoidance of risk and pain and helping people make decisions without a lot of brain energy. It may take the risk out of a purchasing decision. Whenever you’re messaging to another brain, if you don’t understand how people’s brains release decisions, you’re making it more difficult for them to decide. Most companies inadvertently make it hard to make decisions.

Can you give us an example of an old brain trigger?

Say we are driving on the highway and we get off at an exit. There are two diners, one with a parking lot that is full and another with a lot that is empty. Which diner has better food? The brain looks for shortcuts. In behavioral psychology, one of the shortcuts is called social proof. McDonald’s uses social proof on its signs that say “one billion served.” I’ve delivered to 700 CEOs in the last 12 months. They tell me we help them understand for the first time things they had been doing that worked that they could never explain. A six-year-old would understand it. It’s all common sense. ■


Company presidents and CEOs can attend Minuto’s presentation as guests by contacting Bill Cogger, chair of Vistage Sarasota’s chief executive group, at (941)779-3363 or [email protected].

Filed under
Show Comments