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3D Results Uses Prehistoric Brain Functions for Successful Sales Relationships

Fotolia_81808080_XS.jpgThere are countless scholarly sources and American Psychological Association/scientific journal articles showing how neural wiring in our earliest ancestors’ brains evolved to facilitate certain adaptive social behaviors. In addition, it’s known that specific social behaviors we see today are really manifestations of some prehistoric brain functions.

Most of these articles don’t view our prehistoric functions in light of how they affect our behavior during a sales cycle, but I think these two points are relevant to that novel discussion.

  • Humans survived primarily because we function better in a group than alone (e.g., sharing knowledge, division of responsibilities, gathering resources, etc.) As such, our brains evolved to respond positively to others who also exhibited socially collaborative behaviors. In other words, we’re wired to be team players. This is good news!
  • When individuals are in sync with one another, their natural mimicry of each other’s gestures, smiles, and speech rhythms comes from cortical mirror neurons, an attribute unique to primates. So when we say “they just seem to get me” or “we understand each other,” we’re also indicating they are safe and trustworthy because their behaviors are like ours.

Quite simply, we are wired to be team players and we use mimicry to assess how connected we are to one another. Let’s use a sales scenario to explore this further.

Knowing that humans will respond more favorably to someone that exhibits a collaborative approach, what could we do during an initial client meeting to show “we’re here to help you?”

Research by MIT’s Alex Pentland, Ph.D., in his book “Honest Signals” indicates that working with a prospective client, instead of selling to a client, elicits positive feelings in the client because that behavior (helping) is consistent with the client’s own neural patterns.

At 3D Results, our approach follows the conclusion of Dr. Pentland’s research. We are interested in having a conversation about helping the client more so than selling to them (this is where mirror neurons come in). We take a step back and observe the social behaviors between us, our team and the prospective client and their team. Are our behaviors mirroring each other’s? Are we in sync? Do we appear to “get” each other? Are we stepping on each other, or is there a sense of congruency developing? We strive to understand where our customers are coming from and what their approach is so that we can better help them. By understanding their unique business drivers, we are making use of the best of collaborative social behaviors to build the best relationship possible.


In essence, by understanding and utilizing the best of collaborative social behaviors, we can have the kinds of conversations that prospective clients look for. These are conversations where they know that instead of selling to them, we are there to help them. Instead of trying to convince them to buy a product or service, we want to find ways to solve their business challenges. Whether they actually do buy from us is a positive outcome of the relationship we’ve built by wanting to help.

For more information or to talk to one of our experts, Contact Us

Karl Schmitt, PsyD

Karl is a consulting psychologist with over 15 years of human capital management (HCM) and consulting experience. Karl has dedicated the last three years to infusing his expertise in process design and organizational psychology into the strategic design and configuration of SAP SuccessFactors Talent Management applications.

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