Emotions and Decisions:
A Profound Sales Edge

The  heart has its resons which reason knows not of. ---Balise Pascal
In 1934 a movie debuted on the silver screen titled, It Happened One Night,  with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. That was the golden era of movies when stars like Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe Cary Grant, Alan Ladd,  Sophia Loren, and John Wayne were bigger than life. In the movie, Gable removed his shirt during a scene with Colbert and the nation was stunned to see he wasn’t wearing an undershirt. It is a legendary story that because Gable appeared bare-chested, sales of men’s undershirts declined sharply nationwide, which lasted for two years.

WWWThis story illustrates the power of emotions to influence behavior and decisions. I believe this movie may have been the catalyst that started the practice of using recognizable products in feature films as a subtle method of advertising, a practice called product placement. Now, it’s very prevalent in movies. Back to the Future used Pepsi products and of course the DeLorean car, You’ve Got Mail, used Apple, IBM and AOL, Cast Away used FedEX, and Demolition Man used Taco Bell. In 1982 when Reese’s Pieces was placed in the movie ET, sales jumped to 70%. The film I, Robot, has, in the first ten minutes, product placements for Converse, Ovaltine, Audi, Feder, Dos Equis and IVC. Spending for product placement is estimated at $7 billion a year, and $10 billion by 2010. Television is beginning this practice also, with the American Idol judges having a large red glass with the Coca-Cola logo sitting in front of each of them, and 24 uses the Ford Expedition. In the first half of 2008 there were more than 21,000 product placements in the top ten television shows.
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The advertising industry forged the use of emotional responses to sell the viewing audience a myriad of products and services, many of which they don’t need. They have it down to an art form. Edward Bernays, whose maternal uncle was psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, became the first “counsel on public relations,” and was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life Magazine. He was the first to combine the ideas of crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical views of his uncle to manipulate public opinion through the psychology of the subconscious. He understood people could be influenced to buy things they  didn’t need with Freud’s complex ideas on unconscious psychological motivations, and applying them to the new field of public relations by linking products to unconscious desires.
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One of his favorite techniques was to use celebrity endorsements for clients’ causes and products. In the 1920s, working with the American Tobacco Company, he helped break the taboo against women smoking in public by sending a group of models to participate in the New York City parade and light up “Torches of Freedom,” thereby linking smoking with women’s independence. Convincing the public that bacon and eggs was the all-American breakfast was another of his campaigns; obviously quite successful.
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Advertisers are aware that we use the primitive (reptilian) brain and the middle (limbic) brain in deciding what to buy. These are the areas of the brain where self-preservation and emotions such as love, hate, fright, and sadness emanate. These are the areas advertisers appeal to, rather than the rational cortex part of the brain. When advertiser BBD/New York placed a baby in a Michelin tire, it became the number one tire company in the world.  Now with 69 production plants in 19 countries it produces 193 million tires each year (www.michelin.com). People weren’t buying rubber, they bought safety and security—the ads ran for years.
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The legendary Marlboro Man created by the Leo Burnett Company for Phillip Morris was a spectacular success of the power of emotional advertising (this portrays advertising success only, since the public health was victimized…the Marlboro Man died of lung cancer). The campaign began in the 1950’s and sales jumped 3,341% to five billion dollars. In 1957 Marlboro cigarettes rang up $20 billion for the year. And in 1972, Marlboro became the number one tobacco product in the world.
WWWCould it be the public logically analyzed Marlboro as being a superior cigarette? Obviously, no. The Marlboro Man sold cigarettes by rallying the general public’s association of the West and cowboys with masculinity, machismo, independence, and the great outdoors. All emotional responses. Advertisers know that people buy the emotions that are associated with products and services, not the products and service themselves. Emotions are brought to the surface by taking the benefits of the product or service and attaching every one of them to a specific emotion, thereby eliciting an emotional response. W
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Brain Science
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euroscientist and brain researcher, Paul MacLean offers us a profound insight about the human mind when he laments,

You know what bugs me most about the brain? It’s that the limbic system, this primitive brain that can neither read nor write, provides us with the feeling of what is real, true, and important.

WWWClotaire Rapaille, a French-born child psychiatrist, and author of The Culture Code, is now a wildly successful market researcher. Rapaille works for 50 of the largest 100 American companies such as Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg and Chrysler. He uses analysis to tell companies what consumers want from their cars, coffee, toilet paper, artificial sweetener, luggage, cheese and political candidates. He states,

I don’t care what you’re telling me intellectually. I don’t care. Give me the reptilian. Why? Because the reptilian always wins.

WWWThe foundation of his success is knowing how crucial it is to understand what he calls, the reptilian hot button. It’s not nearly enough for a company to only communicate messages of logic.  When you don’t have a reptilian hot button, and only deal with the cortex (intellectual brain) you’re stuck with having to deal with issues like price.
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In his research he leads his clients to discover buyer codes—unspoken needs they’re not even aware of. Once that code is uncovered, the product development and advertising is geared to that discovery. One of his brilliant success stories is the development of the sold-out PT Cruiser for Chrysler. Before that, Chrysler was convinced that people didn’t want cars anymore because of their cortex driven focus groups and questionnaires that said they wanted the massive SUV’s. They believed what these potential customers told them.  Rapaille believed people weren’t buying their cars because Chrysler wasn’t delivering the reptilian car that people wanted. He believed that if they designed and created a reptilian automobile the people desired, they would sell…and sell they did.
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When Repaille led the company in the research in discovering the reptilian code, they found the code to be, identity. The people communicated on an emotional level, deep within their psyche, that they wanted to be identified PT Cruiserimmediately, even from a distance. They were tired of similar looking boring cars, and it was a far different message than what the original Chrysler focus groups generated. Ironically, in a way, Chrysler failed because the PT sold-out, they didn’t manufacture enough. It had a much broader appeal than they thought it would. This automobile is so successful, Chevrolet just about cloned it with their HHR model in 2006. In just four months, 41,000 PT Cruisers were sold, and in 2005 Chrysler sold 133,740 of them. What Repaille does essentially is determine, why do people do what they do? He feels nothing happens by chance. There’s always a reason why people do something. And he breaks the code of why.
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As difficult as this is to accept, psychologically we make decisions emotionally first, then find rational reasons, selective facts, to support those decisions—in that order. As much as we’d like to believe we make decisions based on an objective analysis of the facts, quite the opposite is true. We need to modify the way we think about making decisions. It’s a fact, that human beings make buying decisions on an emotional basis, then after the decision is made we begin the process of employing the analytical part of our brain to reassure ourselves we made the correct decision.
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The 18th century philosopher, Immanuel Kant, one of the most influential philosophers in the history of the Western world, felt that emotion was an illness of the mind. How wrong he was. Even he couldn’t recognize that emotions were and are a crucial aspect of our mental processes, contributing greatly to operating our lives with effectiveness. The fact is, recently, there has been a vast amount of research that indicates the rational and emotional processes of the brain, function in concert, and are not adversarial as has been always assumed. Behavioral economist, Andrew Lo, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Finance has observed through his research, that making decisions is a not a competition between reason and emotion but rather a symbiotic relationship, and says that rationality, “requires emotions to motivate us to act in one way or the other.”
WWWThe rational part of the brain and the emotional part are a unit, a team, which facilitates making decisions. Our early ancestors when confronted with a predator needed both parts in order to survive. If, when coming face-to-face with something that growls, where only the rational mind was employed taking say fifteen seconds in analyzing which option holds the best odds for surviving—that of fleeing, climbing a tree, or hiding—part of their flesh would already be in the process of digestion. Therefore the emotional part of the brain moved them quickly into action automatically eliminating many of the options available. It’s a survival mechanism that is still alive and well and functioning within all of us. WWWAs Alain Berthoz, Director of the Laboratory of Perception and Action in Paris, points out in his book, Emotion & Reason, emotions represent the anticipation of the future, and that “decision making is most likely the function of the nervous system.” The vast majority of people are convinced that rational thinking is the foundation for making decisions. Actually, rational thought and emotions are inextricably linked, and when they conflict, the emotions will always win. We make decisions based on what we like, fear may happen or not happen, or what we want to happen. This is especially true in today’s modern high-paced world and marketplace.
 WWWWe’re in the information age and it’s coming at us at an incredible rate, and choices are overwhelming buyers. One week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person would come across in lifetime in the 18th century, and the amount of new technical information is doubling every year. Everyday, in addition to our personal lives, our senses are under assault with a barrage of television ads, radio ads, news, commercial jingles, Internet ads, and billboards. This adds up to about 14 million bits of information per second, and we can only handle about 18 bits per second. Buyers, all of us for that matter, cannot assimilate every bit of information they experience, because they would be overwhelmed and thus paralyzed.
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As a survival mechanism, the subconscious mind is programmed to fear all that is unknown. Our world is full of uncertainty and anxiety, which is supported by television, newspapers and magazines. And it’s also happening in the world of selling where buyers are barraged with an onslaught of promotions. So buyers have become desensitized and overly cautious. When a person receives too much information they will defer and retract from a decision. With a bombardment of information the mind goes into overload and goes blank—it has great difficulty dealing with the deluge. It simply reacts. So buyers desire short cuts to information and will make decisions that feel right, and therefore, made on an emotional level.
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A great many courses in sales technique emphasize logic. They appeal to the conscious mind therefore giving it too much information, which causes the individual receiving the information to mentally shut down. Therefore people would rather “sleep on it,” which is the realm of the subconscious mind.  Again, what feels right. The operative word being feels. A selling approach that is based on logic may seem to be the correct route to a sale, but it is naïve to believe that that it is how decisions are made. Recent research into understanding human emotions corroborates impulses that are irrational, control our buying decisions. Even seemingly intelligent decisions are actually decided emotionally. WWWNeuroeconomics is a science that combines neuroscience, economics and psychology to study how we make choices by looking inside the brain with scanning devices to measure blood flow as decisions are made. Neuroeconomics’ findings tend to confirm that emotions rule decisions almost completely, everyone shows emotional biases. This is not to say that logic has no role. We need information before we can go forward with very important decisions for our safety, health, keeping our job and so forth. At the same time there are many more examples where emotions are a powerful driving force in deciding. Pure logic can rule our actions, and we can override a natural impulse. More often though, we are powerfully influenced by instincts, the subconscious, and irrationality; then, rationalize our actions after the fact. WW
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It's Human Nature
Ask any real estate broker if purchasing a house is an emotional buy. Their clients have of course, certain criteria they present to the broker so there’s a track to run on. A house is a house. It provides shelter. But when the couple sees the house, many of the criteria play second fiddle. A $175,000 house provides the same shelter as a $450,000 house. Why then, purchase the latter? Purchasing a car is a quintessential example. A car provides transportation from point A to point B. You can get the same transportation need filled with a $15,000 car or a $45,000 car. Why then would a person choose the latter, when the lower priced car will fulfill the very same need? Because it’s emotionally gratifying. Fulfilling an emotional need feels good.
WWWMercedes symbol
Many years ago I was watching the David Suskind show where he was interviewing about six or seven people who were Mercedes Benz owners. This was a time when the Mercedes was the premier luxury car and legendary in its own time. The subject was regarding why they owned a Mercedes. All the answers from these people were solid rational reasons like how much they appreciated the engineering of the car, the safety factor associated with that engineering, the resale value it retained and so on. It all seemed very rational.
WWWThe next day at work I happened to run into a man I knew who owned a Mercedes and asked him if he saw the show. He said that he had, and I asked what he thought of it and what was his reason for owning one. He told me the people on the show were full of baloney—the reason he and any other owner of this car became an owner is the “feeling” they derive and enjoy as an owner. It’s a statement of their place in life, an elevation of their stature, look at me I have arrived; it is an action that massages the ego. This man was in touch with the real underlining reason he owned one, and it was this…it made him feel good. This talk show program provided a classic example of making a decision first then finding rational reasons to support that decision. We all do it.
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I remember when I bought my first luxury car, a Cadillac. Although I loved the soft sensuous leather seats, its beauty and its wonderfully plush ride, the underlying reason for my purchase was purely emotional. I owned it for the feeling it gave me…look at me world, I’m successful, I made it. It fed my male ego. When you stop to think about this principle, we all know this is really nothing new. Who among us has not been frustrated watching this principle at work with people we know who justify their unsound actions by rationalizing. We know of course the rationalization is not the prime reason.
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This behavior is summed up in the adage, if you don’t want to do something any reason will do, if you want to do something any reason will do. And in sales we’re striving to get prospects to want to do business with us. And, any reason will do, quite nicely, and that is what this book is all about. As a sales technique, an excellent salesperson and closer knows that the most important time to expound on the positive aspects of the product or service the customer just purchased, is after the sale. Why? Because now the customer is really listening.  He or she now owns it, they made the decision emotionally and now they want to hear all the rational reasons once again why they bought. Yes, yes, please tell me more and soothe my anxiety and make me feel smart for my decision. It’s music to their ears and an excellent technique to solidify the sale and help prevent a cancellation from buyer’s remorse. It’s called “buttoning up.”
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The Smoking Gun
Antonio R. Damasio is a prominent neuroscientist who has taught neurology at the University  of Iowa since 1976. He wrote Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. (Descartes doggedly believed that the human mind was a separate entity from the human body). Damasio studies people that suffer from brain injuries. These  people have brain damage in the frontal lobe area of the brain that controls  emotions and are no longer capable of feeling emotion. Logic perhaps, would  tell us that this might enhance their decision-making abilities because the  emotional factor was no longer there to interfere with the logical process,  thereby bringing them to much wiser decisions. We would normally associate  emotions with irrational thinking that obscure judgment and distort reasoning.
WWWParadoxically the ability of these people to make decisions was severely compromised. Interestingly it became very problematic to deal with all the pros and cons of everyday issues like what to eat, where to live, etc. They couldn’t  bring themselves beyond “splitting hairs” for every pro and con. Damasio relates a story in his book about a patient whom he tried to schedule an appointment that suffered frontal brain damage. The frontal brain is that part where emotions reside.
WWWDamasio suggested two dates for the patient to choose from. The patient referred to his appointment book he carried with him, and proceeded to determine which of the two dates to choose. For more than thirty minutes this patient vocalized the reasons he should or should not choose either of the dates suggested. It became an agonizing litany of numerous trivial reasons for and against each date. Another subject with frontal lobe damage would take hours to choose a restaurant, obsessing over the seating plan, the atmosphere and the menu, and in the end he could not come to a decision. The neurological studies revealed that these patients had both intelligence and memory, but the neural connections that connect the cognitive and emotional centers of the brain were damaged. With the absence of emotional input these patients were so overwhelmed by trivial information, their decision making processes collapsed, trapped in a perpetual conflict of options.
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The capacity of rational thought is often too slow and too error-prone to solve the problem of a final decision. This would occur especially when an individual has several goals to attend to, some of which may be in conflict, and the luxury of time and the ability to process it all, are much too limited to make a wholly rational choice. Therefore the purpose of emotions is to fill the gap between an action and “infallible” rationality. This scenario depicts how emotions play a vital part in our decision making process, and that logic, while crucial, brings us only to a certain point. Beyond that, we need our emotional input to bring us over the top, without which, our ability to arrive at decisions become impossible. Logic evaluates the hard black-and-white information and all possibilities, it does not, as the frontal lobe patients have experienced and exhibited, have the ability to draw conclusions. It simply provides analysis. WWWThe emotions operate more in the real world of practicality, they are sensitive to the nuances of life, and is the mechanism we use to conclude. Emotions are the management of, and the catalyst to action. Working together, emotion along with logic, provide us with the ability to choose, rendering us functional for living life. Even our beliefs are fueled by emotions, where even in the face of compelling evidence, it’s almost impossible to change a person’s existing belief because emotions are the “internal evidence” that overrides the external evidence. The sheer tenacity of beliefs rarely can be altered by “mere” information. Opposing views on subjects such as religion, politics, gay rights, climate change, abortion and domestic conflict are very near impervious to a meeting-of-the-minds where emotional investment is high.
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Most discussions on television fall prey to this impasse because the treasured views of one side are rendered insignificant by the other, and vice versa. Using capital punishment as an example, if a person’s anger against murderers overwhelms their empathy for innocent people that are executed under our judicial system, they are far more likely to believe in, and support capital punishment. If their empathy for innocent defendants that suffer the ultimate punishment far exceeds their anger for murderers, he or she most likely will believe that capital punishment should be abolished.
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Both beliefs are born from the dominant emotion experienced by the person. Baruch Spinoza, the great 17th century philosopher, defined emotion as, “States that make the mind inclined to think one thing rather than another.” The biasing function of emotions is actually what makes decisions possible by commanding and suppressing which pieces of information are used. Without emotions to nudge us off the fence, to be the deciding factor after considering all logical avenues, this research reveals that we would be caught in a perpetual loop of considering every iota of contrasting data—paralysis by analysis—incompetent to make practical decisions. This is one of the most significant mental function and psychological discoveries of our time.
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More new data emerging from research is even more compelling. It seems that the subconscious is of enormous influence in the decision making process. When researchers recorded the brain activity of subjects making simple decisions, they wanted to observe that part of the brain that changed first, this would be where the decision started. They observed that it started first from the subconscious mind, and since emotions emanate from the subconscious, it empirically confirms that decisions are strongly influenced by our emotions. When a person begins contemplating a decision of several options, the rational mind has a very difficult time sorting out all the possible scenarios along with the affects that might or might not ensue in the future—what are the future gains? Losses? WDecisions are not possible without emotionAccording to Damasio, attention and memory are a limited entity for the rational mind alone. It will be a frustrating and futile experience trying to come to conclusion with only the rational part of the mind. However when emotions are incorporated into the decision-making  process it acts as a filtering process to hone down the choices to a manageable amount of information for the rational mind to handle. Emotions filter out data, based on subjective experiences of the past that come in the form of a gut feeling. Our mind then is a very efficient mechanism that necessarily incorporates a blend of both the emotional and rational in order to function successfully in a world of unlimited choices. Therefore, Dr. Damasio suggests that feelings are a powerful influence on reason—that both are intertwined, where subconscious biases direct our decisions.

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Large Sales Edge WWW
For the salesperson this information about human behavior should be recognized as profound and exceedingly valuable. It should excite our sense of the potential for any techniques that take full advantage of how we as human beings work and decide, and greatly help to influence prospects our way. This, in my opinion is a large edge. But let us be conservative and say it may be only a slight edge, even so, when it comes to decisions as to whether the potential customer will be ours or not, the decision is Busness woman handshakingbinary. It’s you or the other guy.  It is irrelevant whether the decision was won by a mile or a millimeter. If you get it you get it all. You can’t be a little pregnant. The Olympian who wins by one hundredth of one second wears the gold. Almost doesn’t count. When you win a three million dollar account by the skin of your teeth, the three million-dollar account is all yours. Therefore, the goal is simply and subtly bringing the future client to our side on an emotional level.
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This goes beyond your great product or service you’re offering. You’re in competition to either be the chosen one over the others who also feel they have the best to offer, or for the prospect to switch to you and your company from their current provider. When the buyer is seriously considering who to choose, they may have a logically tough choice. However, if they are emotionally attached to you, drawn to you, and like you either consciously, subconsciously, or both, the choice won’t be that difficult. Their emotions will topple them from being on the fence into your arms. So it’s of paramount importance you always keep in mind the emotional factor when we begin addressing the techniques for putting the odds in your favor by exploiting the power emotions have in our prospects’ decisions.
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The Secret Factor is placing emotional memories within the mind of the people we want to influence. These emotions come through to them as feelings, feelings that cause them to be drawn to you for their professional needs. The conscious mind may want to make logically precise decisions, yet the unconscious mind wants to feel good. Remember this important point; in most cases there is going to be a minute difference between competitive offers. That means that the emotional factors are very likely to be magnified, since the logic of your prospect making the choice is a hair splitter, a coin toss, their reptilian feelings toward you matter even more.
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In conclusion
The vast majority of decisions use a degree of logic, with emotions as the central driving force. The emotions both supersede logic, and are an extension of it, providing the spark, though biased, that initiates action, and so designed by evolution to ensure our survival. Then we incorporate a rationale Brainto support our choices after the fact. Therefore, if you insist on basing your sales techniques solely on logical, rational, reasoned facts—the brain is not your friend. Emotions are the gatekeeper. In most cases they begin outside of awareness. They are there to reduce and limit our rational analysis, thereby making them indispensable to decisions. You need to address the reptilian.
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In the twenty-first century of selling, salespeople need more than the litany of features and benefits along with few closing techniques. It is high time that the sales profession joins the advertising industry in what they’ve known and been practicing for decades—to join in its ability and sophistication in connecting with the people they’re trying to influence on a level that’s far more efficacious. Therefore, we are going to be looking at how to simply orient the buyers’ emotional biases to lobby in your favor—to develop the skills that gives us the ability to connect with the buyer on an emotional level.
WWWThis is the secret factor. It’s a secret not so much because the information isn’t readily available, but because few people will believe it. They disbelieve because they feel they are always rational when making decisions, therefore everyone is. Their ego won’t allow them to accept it, which in itself, ironically, is an emotionally biased conclusion. Everything we discuss from here on in will feed into this reality of how and why people make buying decisions, and I will show you how to utilize it to your advantage.
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Note: This chapter is the central concept of this book―all the techniques we will explore will revolve around this fundamental paradigm. Always keep sight of it, influencing the emotions of people is the power, and the techniques are the vehicle. This IS the Secret Factor.
WWWIn the following chapters we’ll be looking at the techniques that will effectively and powerfully impact the emotional mind (limbic system and reptilian brain) of the prospect on your behalf.

© Joe Arrigo

Book Cover: The Secret Factor for Uncommon Sales Success

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