What a Neuroscientist Can Teach You about Growing Sales

Monday, February 10th, 2014
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Most people would agree that when it comes to making decisions, emotions do play a role. But just how important are they?

Over the past few decades, Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has specialized in researching people with damage to an area of the brain specifically where emotions are experienced. His subjects had basically normal intellect, yet he noticed that they shared a particular common trait – extreme indecisiveness. For even what most of us would consider simple decisions, such as what color pen to use to fill out an office form, would cause exhaustive list-making and pondering. For example, in choosing a restaurant for lunch, a patient would deliberate over elements such as menu and lighting, then drive to a restaurant to see how busy its parking lot was, and then further deliberate over whether or not a less full parking lot that was a positive or negative sign. In the end, it was all for naught. Hours later on these decisions, patients could still not make up their minds.

Damasio concluded from his research (and that of others) that emotions and decisions are unbreakably intertwined. He theorized that humans attach emotion to all of our choice options when making decisions, and these feelings bias our options, and drive our behaviors. Even when we think we are driven by cold logic, it is our heart pumping, blood boiling emotions ultimately at the helm.

As retailers, what does this mean for you? It’s easy to get caught up in facts and figures, and the business of a business. But it’s not the rational elements of a business that make its customers decide to buy. Emotions drive decisions.

Every interaction your customer has with you is an opportunity to tap into your customers’ emotions positively. Think about ways you can make the experience of shopping with you fun, pleasant, memorable, surprising, safe, easy, tantalizing and maybe delicious. What is the tone of your email communication? What words do your customer service representatives use when speaking to customers on the phone? What emotion would you say describes your online shopping experience? How about your product packaging? If you’re responses to the above are lackluster, perhaps it’s time to revamp and accentuate the emotion of your brand.

Lanette Willis is a Senior Account Manager at Nexternal. Before joining Nexternal she spent nearly a decade working in market research and professional services marketing, before running her own successful eCommerce apparel business. Lanette is passionate about helping people and businesses thrive.