How to get to ‘yes’ faster

The art of persuasion


The process of influencing a prospect to eventually make a decision to buy from you is called framing.

You want everything you do in the sales process to “frame” your service in the best light possible. You know what you want to do. But how you do it can make all the difference.

Brain-Amygdala-Strategies-shutterstock_103381406It’s all in understanding how the brain reacts and using that information to your advantage, says Dean Minuto, a leading expert in sales and the art of persuasion. He has studied brain responses and applied them to business marketing techniques.

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Don’t rely solely on logic

It’s reasonable to think you can convince prospects by reciting a list of benefits you’ll provide. But don’t rely on your numbers and logic.

You must appeal to emotions and feelings. When you do that, the message goes quickly to the part of the brain called the amygdala, linked to both fear and pleasure, and drives the emotion deeper into memory.

When you provide numbers and logic, however, the prospect’s thoughts go to the neocortex, where they are immediately slowed.

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The amygdala is most interested in “self,” especially the self’s survival. That’s why it reacts instinctively to anything about the prospect, especially if you say his or her name.

Begin your framing with the person’s name, and then answer the question she’s thinking: “What’s in it for me?”

Caveat: Since fear is an emotion, you might assume you can alert the prospect to the pain or a problem that can occur by not using what you’re offering. But that’s the wrong approach. Fear usually results in a “fear, flight, freeze” attitude. The only time fear works is when you remind prospects of a negative they are intensely aware of, and immediately follow it with the solution or benefits you will provide.

That gets her attention quickly and emotionally. If you do it right, it also relieves anxiety and keeps her alert.

Explain the change that’s needed

Be careful here. Make sure you understand the risk the prospect is feeling about the current situation, as well as the complexity or unlikelihood that your solution will work.

If the prospect thinks your solutions are risky, it could spark the “fear, flight, freeze” reaction. So you don’t want to describe a change that appears to be “too much” or threatening. Instead, try recommending little steps that minimize the likelihood of facing a major threat. Make the first few steps look easy.

Now, use a visual

The Greek derivation of video is “to understand” as well as “to see.” Of the five senses, visuals have a stronger impact and get to the brain 30 times faster than any other type of stimulus. You will create more effective, intensive, long-lasting framing if you include a visual like a video, photo or illustration.

Never say it if you can show it.

In Minuto’s presentation to TEC CEOs, he gives each member a prop (a banana, golf ball, crayon, mock turtle, etc.) and periodically asks one to tell a quick story about how the prop relates to the TEC member’s business solution.

Near the end, in a separate exercise, he tells them to listen carefully as he recites 10 emotional words and then write a list of the ones they remember. The only ones they typically remember are those at the beginning and the end. Even though they were emotional words, people couldn’t retain them easily.

Then, he asks them which member told a story using which prop. They remember all of them!

A few other insights

People’s attention will drag about halfway through your presentation.

You can keep them alert by injecting what Minuto calls “pattern interrupts.” These can include using their names periodically, moving around, picking up something and repeating the positives about your solution.

People love “maps,” which you can use as props. Give participants a map or handout that leads them through the sequence of your ideas and leaves room for their own notes.

At the end, the most powerful words to get their attention are “In conclusion …”

What kinds of visuals can you use? And can you give your prospect a prop to keep, along with a story about the positive change you will provide?

You can access more of Dean Minuto’s ideas at

-Phil Hauck chairs three TEC CEO groups in northeast Wisconsin. He can be reached at

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