As the new year begins, it brings with it well produced sales kickoffs, fresh quotas, and pristine new product training. It also brings newfound enthusiasm and hope about your company, your product, and your income. However, the next time you are firmly gripped in your own enthusiasm and optimism about your company’s solution and product and realize that you are perhaps pushing too enthusiastically to get another person see it your way, here’s a tip: Take it down a notch.

Dial your emotion down and watch your sales go up.

It may feel like being eager and enthusiastic is the right thing to do. After all, the great Vince Lombardi (hallowed be his name according to this Packer fan) once said, If You Aren’t Fired With Enthusiasm, You Will be Fired With Enthusiasm!

But likely, you’re doing more harm than good in a sales pitch. Once someone detects your attempt to push them into a decision through your fabricated excitement and concocted passion, they will follow their physiological instincts and automatically resist you. This is the primitive “Crocodile Brain” kicking in. We all have it and we all use it. This part of our brain is the first to receive information from outside sources. Our good friend Oren speaks about this in detail in Pitch Anything.

This part of the brain must decide what to do when confronted with a new person, a new situation, new visuals, and so on. In other words, this part of the brain is the first to receive and hear your message and information…and it will either pass it on to the main part of your brain or simply ignore it. No new information ever gets to the rest of the brain (to the place where someone will decide that they want your product) without passing first through this ancient part of our brain.

So if your message is overly inflated with emotion, friendliness, and zeal, chances are this croc brain will interpret your behavior as supplicative and needy and tune you out…

= No sale!

This croc inside of your prospects has real power over their buying decisions. It simply wants autonomy to make its own decision.

And too much enthusiasm is like chumming the water for crocs! The guard goes up. The Spidey Sense begins tingling. Nothing jolts the prospect out of “buy mode” more quickly than restricting their autonomy.

A person’s autonomy has a hypersensitive early-warning system alerting themselves to dangerous situations - in business or otherwise. Being pushy or overly friendly too soon threatens that person’s autonomy and essentially their “freedom.”

Instead, I’d suggest giving the person you are doing business with a sense of autonomy to the point where they are comfortable and totally free to object, doubt, demur, and disagree…without you jumping-in over-enthusiastically and using facts, information, and logic to primitively strongarm their objections. Any feeling of reduced autonomy, either because of being micromanaged or sales pressure (e.g. trial closes/tie downs) will immediately create fear and uncertainty and lead to your perception as a real threat (i.e. Sales Tourist) vs. an true asset or partner. This perception of autonomy really matters, and it simply can’t co-exist with the perception of being controlled.

One acquired skill that stands out from all the successful sales professionals and teams we consult with, and one that I feel you simply must learn in order to be master sales craftsman, is the ability to keep your persuasion efforts below a certain threshold of awareness. This means not acting needy, not acting frustrated in the face of heady negotiations, and staying away from logical arguments. I’ve spoken many times about the need to also stay away from trial-closes, double-binds, or any other amateur sales techniques that signal a blatant desire for control. These are also common deal killers and threaten the same area of the croc brain. We humans are constantly aware of the ways in which social encounters threaten or support our capacity for choice.

And one thing is for certain: we like to have our choice.

Bottom Line – don’t let the crocodile brain hijack your sales message by being overly enthusiastic. Keep your sales message simple, clear, and Big Picture. Be sure to distill your pitch and your initial conversation down to its core elements and filter out all the other details. Details are simply cold cognitions that come much later in the pitch. The information you are giving the crocodile brain has to be new and novel in some way, or it won’t even be noticed. Giving a hint that something great is coming (intrigue) if they keep paying attention if sure way to maintain interest and provide a dose of autonomy to your prospect.

And remember the three pillars of the Pitch Anything methodology that will help frame any sales presentation to your advantage:

  • People want what they can’t have,
  • People chase what moves away from them, and
  • People only place value on that which is difficult to obtain.

Now go slay some crocs in 2019!