With over 30 years of marketing and business development experience, Christophe is passionate about understanding and predicting consumer behavior using neuroscience.
Before joining SalesBrain, Christophe was Chief Marketing Officer for rStar Networks, a public company that developed the largest private network ever deployed in US schools. Previously, he was VP of Marketing and Corporate Training for Grocery Outlet Inc, the largest grocery remarketer in the world.
Christophe has received multiple awards during his career. In 2011 and 2103, he received prestigious speaking awards from Vistage International. In 2011. 2014 and 2015 he received Great Mind Research Awards and Distinctions from the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF).
Christophe holds a BA in Marketing, an MBA from Bowling Green State University, an MA and a PhD in Media Psychology from Fielding Graduate University. He is an expert on the effect of advertising on the brains of adolescents and young adults. He is an adjunct faculty member of Fielding Graduate University where he teaches a Masters/ PhD course he created called “The Psychology of Neuromarketing”. He was also a board member of the Neuromarketing Science and Business Association from 2011-2016 (NMSBA)
- Only focus on 3 elements in your marketing message because the primal brain can't focus on more
- The Why is more important to the primal brain than the How things work
- Your marketing should magnify the pain-point to ensure the primal brain gets triggered
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. This is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster, get ready for another episode.
Umar Hameed 0:31
Today I'm privileged to have Christophe Morin. He is the CEO and Founder of SalesBrain. Christophe, welcome to the program.
Christophe Morin 0:38
Thank you, Umar. Glad to be with you.
Umar Hameed 0:41
We met when he had written your earlier book, it was all about neuro-marketing and the reptile brain, why don't you kick us off with you know that earlier work? And how your new book, The persuasion code leverages off of that?
Christophe Morin 0:55
Sure. So 17 years ago, when I started, the company that I currently run called sales brain, we wanted to bring a different perspective on why deals are closed and why deals don't. And the idea of which was simply to suggest that when you're on a mission to close a transaction or a deal, you really on a mission to convince an organ, the brain. So we wrote the first book, that was the first movement towards a brain based marketing approach that is looking at what is the effect of your arguments? What is the effect of your capacity to capture attention from the perspective of an organ, the brain.
Umar Hameed 1:49
So very much so we grow up seeing the world as we are, I think there's a really good quote from the Talmud, you know, we do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are, and sales and marketing has been very focused on, you know, we the company, this is how we see the world. And this, how we describe it. And the work you brought in was saying, no, what you need to do is see the world through the brain of your prospect, especially the reptile part of the brain. So they want to take action, they want to hear your arguments, how difficult was it for you to persuade the marketing industry, that, you know, this is scientifically a better way to go.
Christophe Morin 2:27
It has has been a rather challenging journey. And it's really kind of our own fault, initially, because we were, as experts, scientists, so excited about the idea of putting the brain at the center of marketing effectiveness, that we forgot that for the most part, marketing people even you know, executives, don't always have an appetite for learning and digging into the science. And that's why I'm so excited about our new book, The persuasion code, because we're really consolidating 16 years now of working through a very tested model of persuasion, which is giving people practical and easy to use steps to leverage everything that we've learned about the dominance of that reptilian structure, which we now call the primal brain. And, and do so without necessarily becoming a neuroscientist.
Umar Hameed 3:30
Brilliant. Why don't you take me through some of the concepts of the persuasion code, something that, you know, business leaders could implement right away? And because, you know, at the end of the day, it's very much our ability to connect with other human beings, to persuade them because leadership isn't about power. It's about the ability to influence right?
Christophe Morin 3:52
Precisely. And so first and foremost, what is confirmed in our book is now a, a well known and, and scientifically supported theory, and that is that as humans, while we have the capacity to think, and process a lot of information in the newest part of our brain, which is what we call the rational brain, physically, it's called the cortex. We remain under the dominance of primal brain structures that have existed for millions of years. And we have to long assume that these brain structures were only responsible for keeping us alive and taking care of our breathing and digestion. But we now understand that there is very sophisticated circuitry that is in fact responsible for jumpstarting the processing of messages that have the intention to persuade and therefore, you need to consider the dominance of those primal structures when you create and deliver, you know, a pitch and that's the framework of On which we start giving people a lot of very practical tools and ideas, to respect the dominance of the primal brain and to engage into a very persuasive session.
Umar Hameed 5:10
Christophe, if you could do me a favor, think of a particular company, you don't have to name them. But the the old pitch that they had that was very much marketing focused, and how you were able to transform that pitch that was more brain science based, and what the results were. So that would, you know, set the groundwork for us to actually go deeper into the persuasion code.
Christophe Moring 5:33
Yes, so there are, by the way, there are over 30 business cases in the new book. And unlike the first one, where we were really launching the framework and didn't have much to support, the persuasion code is loaded with not just scientific citations over 300. But business cases. So I can pick one, specifically, that I've always enjoyed working with, it's a company out of Denver, and they do digitizing of documents, you know, we all carry and keep too many documents around our offices. And this company has a pretty remarkable platform for digitizing documents. However, like most companies that get very excited about their product, that they thought that they always had to explain the product and the features and functions that come with the product to convince people because this journey of explanation is one that is in fact, reaching the newest part of the brain, which are excited about the possibilities of you know, reducing the amount of documentations, and so forth, what we found through research is by and large, you cannot really excite the primal brain, when you start explaining anything, because the primal brain doesn't have much cognitive resources and for the primal brain, what matters is not how things work, but why we need them. And so shifting the campaign and shifting the creation of their entire sales message on the why you need to digitize God document, which is to free yourself from you know, documents that shouldn't be really cluttering your office, or not worry about moving your documents with you if you have to. All these elements that are more related to pain points and frustrations do not require you initially to talk about how things work, but why you can't live without them. And that simple shift opens up a very different way of building an argument, presenting the argument in such a way that you're priming the primal brain to to ease the process of the cognitive process. Because ultimately, you don't really make the decision in the primal, you just package it from the primal to the rational.
Umar Hameed 7:57
The Y message, does that have to be a Y that is threatening to my peace of mind? Or financially? Does it always have to be a threat that we're bringing up? Or does can the Why be more?
Christophe Morin 8:10
That's a great question. David Ogilvy a very famous and inspiring advertiser said it better than I ever will be, he said, selling is easy, as long as you light a fire under people's chair, and present the extinguisher. And I have to say, as a researcher, I was always intrigued by this statement, until I found that the science completely supports the notion that negative events and threats are indeed, those events that trigger the most attention in the primal brain. And it makes sense. humar, when you consider that the primal brain is always on a mission to protect us is always on a mission to scan for the possibility that something could be a potential threat. And so, when you have your primal brain, you know, awake, negative events, by design receive more attention more priority than positive events. So in our method, you do find the dominant aspect of identifying pains and frustration of magnifying those pains and frustration, to prime the primal brain to activate this interest around the why and the why is because if I don't have protection from those fears, and the SWOT tration they're going to continue to pollute my life or make it more difficult or, or be in the way of me achieving more success. Now, moving that message from pain to gain is the emotional lift that good messages have to convince.
Umar Hameed 9:50
Brilliant. And just before we go there, I remember being in one of your lectures, many moons ago and what came up for me was this old TV ad for I think it might have been staples or FedEx and the adwind, something like this, it was a very small company. So they're going to a very cramped conference room with maybe five or six people in it. And they're looking for ways to save money. And one of the employees goes, you know, we could ship our FedEx shipments at Staples and save 10%. And then the moment later, the leader of the company goes, wait a minute, I've got an idea. And the idea is we could go to staples and save 10%. And I always took away that whenever the reptile brain or the primal brain, comes up with the neocortex rationalizes it and thinks it's its idea, do I have that right?
Christophe Morin 10:35
That's been there, to some extent, part of the challenge of moving this model through organizations. And that is the resistance that most of us have to admit, our irrationality. And we've we live under the illusion through our capacity to be conscious beings, which is pretty cool. I mean, we believe that humans are the most sophisticated, you know, form of intelligence on this planet, and consciousness comes with it our capacity to reflect and be aware to some extent that we exist. However, consciousness gets us into huge trouble, because it doesn't go to the extent of observing our primal behavior and and admitting to the extent that we want to be logical decision making machine that we are always under the influence of massive biases that make us much more irrational than we are rational and the book that I think exemplifies this, this this truth is the book from Daniel Ariely called predictably irrational, I suspect it's one of the books you may have seen and and in the title says it all. The bad news is we are irrational. The good news is it's predictable. And therefore, why not adjust your ability especially to sell and pitch? With this assumption that you need to first and foremost address the irrational brain?
Umar Hameed 12:03
Christophe, could you walk us through an example of like, the first thing we talked about was, you know, identifying the pain like, what's the the threat started to talk about the game? Like? How do we pitch it in a way that somebody wants to take action. So take us through the persuasion code of maybe how you build one of those messages?
Christophe Morin 12:20
Yes, finding the pain is step one of our process of persuasion. By the time you have successfully identify, and you're ready to amplify and re awake the pain, you move very quickly. If you do this, well, from a situation where you no longer push a message, you're no longer pushing extinguishers, but you have created a situation or context in which people are starting to feel the burn the fire, and if they do, then they're going to ask for the extinguishers.
Umar Hameed 12:52
Go back to the example of the document company. And I think you did define...
Christophe Morin 12:56
Umar Hameed 12:56
...the pain. So why don't we use that as the example.
Christophe Morin 12:58
So, so what we...
Umar Hameed 12:59
Tell the story.
Christophe Morin 12:59
... did this company, by the way, the name of which is Digitech Systems and I do encourage anyone listening to the podcast to look at the website, because it's a textbook example of how sales brain and our approach has catapulted the success of this company. But the second step, once you've done a good job highlighting the pain is to eliminate all those reasons that people and companies tend to give when they are trying to convince and and the process of which we call spraying and praying where you suit you feel that if you get 15 reasons why people should buy, you know, your your services, there's at least three that are going to stick. Well spraying and praying doesn't work, because the primal brain doesn't have the cognitive resources to handle the sorting and the rating that comes with 15 reasons. So we train and and guide our customers to pick a maximum of three reasons which we call their claims. And, and those claims are repeated. Those claims usually come with icons that are visually reinforcing how important and intuitive they are. So there's a a mantra, if you will, that needs to be packaged in such a way that having only three unique reasons is all you need to get the primal brain ready to listen to your value prop, if you will. And the third step is to present the evidence, which we call the game. So once you identify only three compelling reasons why people should buy your documenting imaging system, then you need to present the evidence because the brain is a very skeptical machine, especially at the level of the primal brain. We don't really understand the intricacy we believe what we see and we believe what we experience. So all the game demonstration in our approach is designed to create small experiences through which people can say See, I feel therefore it's true. A demo would be one of those experiencing, if you have a demo of how this particular documenting system is so easy to use brings in the information and all that can be done right in front of your eyes. That's all the primal brain needs to believe the experience that I just witness is going to be the same forever.
Umar Hameed 15:22
And so where the stories come in, because I know we're hardwired to receive stories and remember stories.
Christophe Morin 15:28
So for me, the story is pain claim game, you see, yes, we are very much wired for stories. And the very simple reason beyond that is that it's a very efficient way for us to create patterns of information that we can store with limited amount of details. You know, memory is a system that has fascinated me for decades. And certainly, most recently, because my father passed away from Alzheimer, and anybody who has elderly people around May, one day or another face this condition. And what you learn is memory is distributed around the brain in most areas that handle either long term or short term, but we're not really wired to remember much. And stories are basically narrative formats. They're efficient, to the extent that you can remember the plot, the characters, the the the flow of a story, what happens at the beginning, what happens at the end, we don't need too many of these elements to store if you will, the code of a story and retrieve it. And for us, creating a message that is a story of we're on a mission to eliminate pain points that are making your life miserable, we have found a unique solution. And here's the evidence. That's a story all together. And you can obviously bring additional stories, customer stories, your own personal stories, to the extent that your own passion, if you will, for the business is is reinforcing the the truth and the credibility of the story. So I absolutely agree. Storytelling is a natural format for delivering information that is brain friendly.
Umar Hameed 17:10
If I'm looking at a commodity industry, let's take real estate, for example, how would you help a realtor or realty company kind of design one of these messages because it seems very commodity driven. And if you look at the Internet, all the messaging seems to be the same kind of what would be your strategy to to help a company like that achieve a message that really connects with the mind of their clientele.
Christophe Morin 17:36
So we've have worked in that space, commercial estate and residential real estate, we also have a very large client in this in the field of giving information that people who own real estate need, the company's name is TransUnion. And there is, as you say, very little creativity, typically, that is used to create experiences of looking for a house or looking for a property, that, that that that makes your brain really engaged. Because people focus on what the product is, you know, piece of property, not as much the frustrations or the fears associated with choosing the wrong piece of real estate, or having an experience around an agent. That is frustrating, frustrating and disappointing. And, and so not enough, in my opinion, of the messaging is about justifying the why you should choose a particular company, rather than hear the piece of property that we have in our portfolio. And, and like many other, you know, real estate company, we have the best and the brightest properties, which which is not enough to create a clean and primal brain centric interest, the differentiation I truly believe, whether it's to sell real estate cars or anything is in the experiences that our brains have about the process of engaging with either the salesperson or account manager. And those experiences are what our brain are assessing millisecond by millisecond.
Umar Hameed 19:27
Christophe, what do you think is the concern for a lot of companies, they want to appeal to the widest, broadest demographic, so they don't want to lose any business, but by making it such a broad message that they're really talking to no one? From a neuroscience point of view? How can they look at that equation in a different way? You've experienced this right where people, you know, we are great for small companies, large companies, medium companies, and it just becomes this kind of whitewash...
Christophe Morin 19:57
Umar Hameed 19:57
Christophe Morin 19:58
And that goes back to what I was suggest. guessing earlier, we call spraying and praying. The idea behind it is if we give 20 reasons, you know, to to be great for everybody, then surely people are going to recognize one or two. We know that from a marketing standpoint, these strategies really don't work. And that's why in our process, by the time you identify and really connect to the top pains, and frustrations that make people's potential life miserable, focusing on that, first and foremost is an opportunity to filter and distill and eliminate many of your typical, you know, claims, and by doing so, sharpening the uniqueness and differentiation of your message. And yes, by doing so, not necessarily appealing to all the people, but why should want to appeal to all the people, you really want to appeal to those that have the initial intention or pain and frustration that you can solve. And so, really closing ratio is are as good as your ability to reach and activate interest from people who are to some extent prime to, to make that intention. And, and and focusing on the pain limiting the number of reason is a much smarter strategy than broad, you know, brush brush strokes, if you will, that are meant to attract everybody.
Umar Hameed 21:30
Brilliant. So one last question for you Christophe, you want to make an impact in the marketing world? What are your hopes for, you know, your life's work? And how do you hope it impacts the broader field?
Christophe Morin 21:43
Well, you know, the preservation code was my life's work and 16 years to to create a book that I'm very proud of. I also feel that while the intention of the book, of course is to help primarily people sell and be more successful in sales and marketing, I also want the book to inspire people who are responsible for campaigns, for instance, public health campaigns advocacy campaign, to recognize that good messages be can become way better and more efficient, if they are anchored in more science. And so I witness every day, sometimes with great sadness, the waste and the noise of bad messages. And fortunately, as you know, humara brain is pretty good at ignoring most of them. But why continue to see, you know, nonprofit organizations struggle in messaging, when in fact they can, and not terribly difficult, you know, with without much necessarily effort, they can radically improve their capacity to reach their audience and make an impact. I volunteer a lot for lots of organization. And I witness that very simple yet scientifically anchored techniques can make a huge difference in most organization that typically don't have the money for it.
Umar Hameed 23:08
Brilliant. Christophe, thanks so much for sitting down with me. I learned a lot. I'm a firm believer in getting messaging that works because business makes the world go round.
Christophe Morin 23:18
Thank you, Umar for inviting me today.
Umar Hameed 23:24
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro-linguistic programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.