LOUISVILLE — Sales success is not so much about selling. It is about easing potential customers' pain and fear and appealing to their "reptilian" brain.
That was the Idea Festival message of Patrick Renvoisé, an author and former head of global business development for Silicon Graphics who calls himself an expert in neuromarketing. He studies how the human brain makes buying decisions, and he offered tips for influencing those decisions.
Decisions are primarily governed by the "reptilian" brain — the part of our brain where instinct and basic survival skills reside — rather than the intellectual or emotional parts. The best way to sell customers is to diagnose their pains and fears and offer ways to ease them, Renvoisé said.
"When people want and need your product, what is their pain?" he asked, adding that fear-avoidance is one of the strongest human motivations.
For example, he said, Domino's Pizza figured out years ago that people who ordered delivery pizza were more anxious about when it would arrive than how good it would taste. Thus, the Domino's sales pitch of delivery within 30 minutes or the pizza was free.
After easing pain and calming fears, appealing to emotions is important.
"We make emotional decisions and then try to rationalize them, not vice versa," Renvoisé said.
Other advice: explain how your product is different and better than competitors' products, and prove it somehow. Also, keep your message simple and visual.
More than a kiss
To Sheril Kirshenbaum, a kiss is not just a kiss. The researcher and author opened the second day of the Idea Festival on Thursday with a lecture on the topic of her new book, The Science of Kissing.
Smooching, she explained, really is about chemistry. And biology. And evolutionary impulses about reproduction that are very different among men and women.
"A first kiss is nature's ultimate litmus test," said Kirshenbaum, who is a scientist at the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy.
While men often see kissing as a means to an end (sex), women, who often have more acute senses of taste and smell, use it as an important indicator of whether to pursue a relationship. They literally are trying to find "the right chemistry" because "kissing acts on the body like a drug."
Among kissing behavior she noted: Most people tilt their heads when they kiss, and two-thirds of them tilt their head to the right. Why is that? One theory is it is the way most infants nurse.
Also, she claimed, people are more likely to pass germs through shaking hands than pressing lips.
"The best advice I can give is when you love someone, kiss them often," she said.