Episode 27 – Christophe Morin, Ph.D. – understanding the “SalesBrain”, tactical methodologies for creating a dialogue with prospects and perfecting your message delivery

The doctor is in for Episode 27 of The Talent Sales and Scale Show! Host Byan Whittington is joined my Christophe Morin, Ph.D. – CEO and Co Founder of SalesBrain – the only research, coaching, and training company that helps you DEVELOP and DELIVER messages that reach the true decision-maker: the Primal Brain. Bryan and Christophe cover SO many great topics on this episode including:

-the power of the Primal Brain in sales

-how to structure your messaging to evoke the right emotion at the right time

-the power of understanding and communicating pain points that are relevant to your target market

Plus SO much more! Grab a pen and note pad for this one folks! 

SalesBrain’s website:

You can connect with Christophe on LinkedIn here:

Read Full Transcript

Bryan: Hey, everyone. It’s Bryan Whittington with The Talent, Sales and Scale Show. We have Christoph Morin, who had to teach me how to say that properly. The English version is More-in. So welcome to the show here. He comes to us leading Sales Brain. And what caught my attention about Christoph is that he’s a Vistage speaker. So anyone who knows Vistage knows how challenging it is 1. To be a Vistage speaker, and 2. To be an award-winning Vistage speaker. You have to have some pretty good knowledge.
Then I looked further, and he has some pretty cool books. One is The Persuasion Code. And as I pull up my other here—so many notes!—The Persuasions Code talks about effective and compelling outreach. And then also, which is rather timely, The Serenity Code, which really deals with how we deal with the stress of rejection that can come from sales. But I put that coat onto it. It’s really how you deal with stress in the ridiculous, crazy world in which we find ourselves. So that’s just a backdrop. So with all of that said, welcome, Christoph.

Christoph: Yes. Thank you, Bryan, for inviting me.

Bryan: Oh, my pleasure; I really appreciate you putting some time aside. You’re in Hawaii right now, right?

Christoph: Yes.

Bryan: Ah, man!

Christoph: Beautiful Hawaii.

Bryan: That is a way better place than where I am. Hey, so I guess that one of the first questions I’d like to ask is, you know, you’ve been around the block—a Vistage speaker. Yeah, you have a book. So why in the world should we listen to you? I mean, there are tons of topics on here. Everyone is saying that they know how to persuade people. Everybody knows how to deal with them. They’re saying that there are different alternatives to stress. Why should we listen to you on these topics?

Christoph: Well, we all share a very critical organ. And that organ is called the brain. (Laughter) And also I have made it my life,--my passion, my obsession—to decode our behaviors, to decode what we do, which we often fail to explain. So we’re really good at creating stories in our heads about why we buy certain things, why we’re stressed, why we’re in love, and what have you. But it turns out that our capacity to actually observe and describe what we do is very limited.
So as beings, as humans, we forget that a large portion of our behavior, including a large portion of how certain aspects of how we navigate,--such as visual attention, cognition, and so on,--many of those happen below the radar. And so as a consumer researcher I became fascinated by the idea of really digging deeper into the psyche of humans from the perspective of the brain.
So for too long neuroscience, I feel, has been reserved for clinical medical doctors, when in fact all of us, regardless of what we do,--if you’re parents, you want to understand the behavior of your kids. And neuroscience can help you do that. If you’re stressed, neuroscience can help you understand some of those responses, and how your body and your moods are affected. If you’re in sales you can begin to understand what is really the effect of me showing that brain to you. It’s a stimulation of the visual system, but also the cognitive system, and so on.
So the reason you should be listening to me is because I think I bring fresh and scientific answers that can help us to be smarter and more aware, particularly of what is happening which we cannot observe, because it’s happening too fast, or it’s happening below our level of awareness.

Bryan: Okay, so there’s a lot there. So you just touched on two things here, Christoph. One is that it’s happening so fast that we’re not aware. So let’s just talk on that one. How can we be unaware? I mean, I know why I buy something, right?

Christoph: Let me do this a little more visually now, since you offered earlier that I share some visuals. What I’m sharing here with you is the simplified view of our brains. So are you able to see this, Bryan?

Bryan: Yes. And so for those of you listening on Spotify or iTunes, you can definitely check this out on YouTube. So we’ll have that YouTube link in the notes. So keep going.

Christoph: Okay. And I’ll hopefully describe this in a way that makes sense even if you don’t see it. We basically have two brains, Bryan. We have an old, primitive brain which sits on the bottom of our heads, which you can see here in orange. It includes brain areas called the brain stem, if you remember that far in some of your biology or human anatomy classes. It includes the cerebellum, which is that little brain structure which has that huge density of neurons. We automate a lot of our behaviors, particularly functions like walking or playing tennis or playing golf.
And then it includes what’s called the limbic system. So it’s all the wiring that’s involved in managing and responding emotionally. So that orange brain, the primal brain, is the oldest, evolutionary speaking, part of our operating system. Now the dating of that brain is close to half a billion years of age.
And on top of the primal brain sits the newest part of our brain called the cortex. And we can call it the rational brain because it is in that brain that we can actually speak and master language. We can compute. We can make predictions, particularly in the frontal lobe. So consider it the smart but rather slow brain.
And consciousness—really the quality of being able to observe our behavior—is really only possible in the rational brain. But it’s not possible to observe or even modify a lot of what’s happening in that primal brain, because it’s been automated for millions of years, and for good reason. And the reason is to be safe, to survive, and to be able to respond without having the time delay of our thinking. Thinking is slow; acting must be much faster in order for us to survive.

Bryan: Got it. So let’s tie a couple of things together. So the rational brain, it’s very analytical and intellectual. The primal brain then is the emotional side of the house. So the old adage in sales is that we buy emotionally; we justify intellectually. So—

Christoph: Yes. And it’s true that you can see a lot of those behaviors. But we also tend to tell ourselves that we are rational by doing so. So it’s not like we always have a lot of awareness that so much of our decisions are driven emotionally. If you actually ask people, (and I’ve spent a lot of time in my career doing surveys with focus groups), they tend to show you that people are fooling themselves thinking that they are conscious and rational beings.

Bryan: Yeah. And because we’re called “The Talent, Sales and Scale Show,” let’s break this out in a couple.
So from a hiring perspective, I would think that we’re going to get in our own ways from a hiring perspective, because we’re going to hire people that are like us because then there’s trust. And that’s emotional. We’re going to hire people like us because we kind of like them, right? So that’s emotional. But we’re going to try and justify it all with the resume, or whatever the case may be. Is that an accurate way of pulling this together?

Christoph: It is. And to be honest, while it is clear that in our society we achieve or want to achieve rationality as much as it is possible, we have this dream of AI, decision-making, algorithms, and so on. The truth is that as humans we have largely survived because we in a way trust our guts and our senses, and because we have a system that is pretty remarkable in terms of triggering initial decisions. And so what’s important in my work is to make sure that in marketing and in sales you’re taking into account basically the dominance of the primal brain.
And what we discovered is that persuasion, the act of convincing, the act of selling, is basically a bottom-up effect. You cannot really persuade straight to the rational brain and use rational arguments. You have to speak to the faster brain first, which is the primal brain.
So my work and my book has been all about guiding how you do that process of basically igniting that primal brain without being obnoxious, obviously without being unethical, but by staging why people should pay attention. And too often, when you look at how sales happen, people focus on explaining and providing details and giving features and functions. But that primal brain is completely overwhelmed. It doesn’t even want to understand how things work, unless it has first verified that you need it to survive.
Bryan: Well, I’m quickly trying to go through—here it is! I was reading a couple of books here recently. And you’re probably familiar with it. So let me get your take on these.
So I read Predictably Irrational, which kind of aligns by this. And then I’m currently reading You’re Not So Smart, which talks about people and certain tests that they did, where they just allowed people to make choices on what they wanted. And then they also made other people describe why they made those choices. And then they went back a little bit later and found out that the people that had to describe what they chose didn’t like it anymore, right?
And then I think the other one was something in Betts, whatever it was in Betts. It went back to, what was it? Bear with me; I can’t give him proper credit. Yeah, thinking in Betts. It tied all of these things together, between that neural science, NLP. And I’m also thinking of Blink with what was his name, who wrote Blink.

Christoph: Malcom Cadwell.

Bryan: Cadwell; thank you. So it seems like all of those are really tying together with what you’re saying here. Is that a fair summation of pulling all of those together?

Christoph: Yes. So for the last good ten years now, there has been profound research brought by a different field. Neuro-marketing certainly is one, but also behavioral economics. There are people like Daniel Canaman or Richard Thaller with Nudge and Thinking Fast and Slow. All these researchers, including my work, have established in a way the importance of what are called cognitive biases.

Bryan: Yeah.

Christoph: These sorts of shortcuts that we take. And many of those shortcuts are not conscious. And they either accelerate our ability to navigate complicated decisions or get us into trouble, which was the team of Blink. I mean, Blink was not a book about neuroscience. Cadwell is a good journalist, but he’s not a scientist per se. And what he did though in his book is a collection of stories of people who were seemingly extremely educated and extremely smart. But they ended up doing something really stupid, guided in a way by these biases.
And so, you know, whenever we are in situations of either selling or influencing, it’s really important to understand these principles to in a way protect yourself from inferior decision making. And that’s the idea behind this work that we do, the work that I do.
And you mention mental health. In my latest book The Serenity Code I also continue to teach how this primal brain is largely responsible for excessive stress and anxiety, because it is over-stimulated and because we do not understand what we can do to calm and in a way feed the beast without fearing the beast.
And so there’s this idea with neuroscience, which is my sort of NICA message which is profound. In other words, for any one of us—again as parents, as leaders, as educators,--we all gain from having a better understanding of brain functioning and the importance of those biases.

Bryan: Okay. So whenever we’re talking about cognitive bias, (is that the right language, cognitive bias?)

Christoph: Yes.

Bryan: Okay.

Christoph: Cognitive biases, yes.

Bryan: Thank you; cognitive biases. So based upon my world view, based upon my experience, I’m going to make judgments on that world view and experience. And so I’m coming into this with a mindset somewhat made up already. Am I going to like this person? Will I like this person? They look like so-and-so, so I instantly dislike them. Or they sound like such-and-such, so should I trust this firm? So that comes into play.
So when that’s happening, what should we do as buyers? How would I understand this from a buying perspective?

Christoph: Well again, remember I told you that persuasion seems to work first at the bottom part of our brains. So you have to be able to craft a message that speaks to that primal brain. We call that making it primal brain friendly. So I’ll go through six criteria, or you could say six qualities that will make a primal brain message relevant and interesting, right?
#1. It has to be extremely personal. It has to be extremely substantive. In other words, that primal brain has only one priority, and that’s to protect and defend us from potential threats. So the best way to actually grab the attention of the primal brain is to talk about that threat. It’s to talk about the pain or the frustration that you can solve with what you do better than anybody else. That’s #1.

Bryan: Can I pause off of that? So #1 is to personally talk about the pain and frustration. Is it a simple as a problem? Or if you talk about the problem, is it too intellectual when it really needs to be emotional?

Christoph: It is; that’s right. When you start getting into a primal brains sort of dialogue, you almost need to think that you’re talking to a four- or five-year-old brain.

Bryan: Okay.

Christoph: And that’s not to say that it has to be done. It just has to be very intuitive and very distilled, right?
So if you’re selling an extinguisher, you need to talk more about the fire or the risk of fire at the beginning, rather than the features and functions of your extinguisher.

Bryan: Right.

Christoph: Do you understand what I’m saying? A very famous advertiser said, “To sell an extinguisher is very simple. You light a fire under people’s chairs.” (Laughter) And then you present the extinguisher.

Bryan: Yes.

Christoph: Now that’s pretty extreme. But in a way that’s what happens with the primal brain. The primal brain is not even going to pay attention to any message that is not directly related to some form of threat or risk. That’s #1.

Bryan: Okay. And I would think that would go to the eschatoma, if you will. So the eschatoma from my understanding is that if you don’t look at that as a benefit or a threat, you’re just not going to pay attention to it. So if I don’t look at this as being a pain or a frustration, I’m just simply going to ignore it because there are 3,000 or 5,000 other pressures trying to hit me.
Christoph: And that’s where you need to do your homework. So in our courses, with our clients, we actually have a whole section of how you diagnose your customer’s pain. So you can’t just spray. What I see with a lot of companies is that they kind of spray all kinds of benefits. And they pray that a few are going to stick.

Bryan: Yes.

Christoph: Well, spraying and praying doesn’t work on the primal brain. You have to hit the top pain. Once you do that, the expectation of that primal brain is that you have the ability to quickly contrast life without your product and life with your product. So contrast is the best and fastest way to convince the primal brain, because there are only two choices, right? And decisions are always very challenging for the brain in general. But if you give me a complicated option in my cortex I’m going to want to review all the options, right? So the cortex is excited about reviewing a., b., c., d.
The primal brain doesn’t have the luxury of that. The primal brain needs to respond in a split second. So you have to be able to serve me BOB. And you have to be able to say, “Of course. The best option is B.”
So in the way you approach the primal brain you need to understand that the primal brain wants to make a quick decision. And it needs to have a message that helps him to do that.

Bryan: Okay.

Christoph: That’s #1.

Bryan: I was just going to say this. So contrast life with or without your product. But make it ridiculously simple.

Christoph: Exactly.

Bryan: Okay.

Christoph: And the primal brain loves that because the primal brain thinks, “I’m guided by what is the ultimate decision and choice.”
So there’s a paradox here between the primal and the rational. The rational wants to take time to analyze. The primal needs to decide. It’s a bias.

Bryan: Okay.

Christoph: The third aspect for the primal is that you need to provide some evidence, some proof that is easy, visual and intuitive for my primal brain to understand. So a proof could be showing me your customer, talking, smiling and happy because they’ve received your extinguishers and they love it, or showing me a demo of how fast that extinguisher is going to work.
That’s visual. That can be processed right in front of my eyes. And I can make from that demo a quick decision in my head, right? So that primal brain, more so than my cognitive brain, is always looking for evidence. And so we have a process in our method where you really have to carefully orchestrate these moments of proof—these moments of sampling—because see, the primal brain only understands the present. The primal brain doesn’t understand the future.
It’s a little bit like when you have pets. Do you have dogs or cats at home?

Bryan: Yes. We have a dog.

Christoph: Watch them for just a few minutes in a sort of mindful state. And ask yourself that one question. How much do they worry about tomorrow? (Laughter) Right. And so then I now want you to understand that if you’re pitching your solution, and you know that the primal brain is at the forefront of that evaluation, to talk about how six months from now you’re going to have a fabulous RLI is not going to make any sense to the primal brain. No, not at all.
But if you show me a demo that is immediately revealing a value or solution to a pain, whether it’s a navigation issue or a lead issue, boom! If that can be demonstrated in the moment, then my primal brain gets excited.

Bryan: So let me touch on this quickly, because what I don’t want most people to do is to go, “Oh see, we’re doing demos. That’s the right thing to do.” But my sense is that most people that are doing demos out there are doing a demo dump. What I think I[‘m picking up from you here, Christoph, is that you bring up a pain, bring up a frustration. You make a clear, concise contrast between as is versus future state with my product, right? Then show how this product is going to solve that one pain or frustration in that demo, or in a story if I can’t do a demo, or some type of business case, but really short and succinct and only to that one point. Is that an accurate understanding?

Christoph: Yes. It is exactly the way we’re suggesting it. And we also have an important concept in our method, which is to never go beyond three benefits.

Bryan: Okay.

Christoph: Which we call your claims. So in other words, the story we want people to tell to the primal brain is that you’re at risk, you know it, and not to make it up. In other words, don’t fear-monger or don’t distort; it’s not going to serve you well.
So identify a credible, verifiable pain or frustration. Talk about it because that’s what the primal brain needs to do to awaken. Say that you have a solution, and not one of many; you have the best. So your life is going to be at risk if you don’t have us. And your life is just going to be fully protected if you do. We’re going to give you a demo on each and every single one of those claims. And as you will see, you will feel much better knowing that we can basically provide the medicine for your headache.

Bryan: Okay.

Christoph: And that’s the story. Ad this simple story, as you know, many companies can’t do it, because they just want to explain; they want to spray. You know, fifteen reasons. And they forget that the ultimate gatekeeper of our cognition is the primal brain.
In other words, you can’t be smart with me. And it has nothing to do with people’s intelligence. You know, people tell me, “Well, I pitch neurosurgeons,” or “I pitch engineers.”
Well, so what? They have primal brains too. And you can’t just ignore biological rules with this. And we’ve done this work in thirty countries. We have trained over 120,000 people. So I know that this works when you’re selling cars, trucks. Volvo Trucks is a client of ours, or even Functional MRI. We’ve helped GE Health Care around the world who sells these scanners that are multiple millions of dollars.
So it’s somewhat surprising. Yet it seems like you’re understanding the point, which is to work hard to achieve simplicity and speed.

Bryan: So what’s the old adage, right? You know, I’m sorry this is two pages. But I didn’t have enough time to cut it down to one, right?

Christoph: There you go.

Bryan: That clarity is so challenging. And it seems like—and maybe you can tell me why,--but it seems like it’s harder for me in the weeds, or harder for me with all of the knowledge base, right?, because there is so much knowledge that I have about this, it seems harder for me with all of this knowledge to condense it down to a simplistic few.

Christoph: Of course it is. And cognition is taxing. What does that mean? Our ability to think and compute and make predictions is quite remarkable. But it’s burning a lot of energy. And we forget that the brain is a tiny organ, only three pounds, right?

Bryan: Right.

Christoph: Mostly water. But it burns nearly 20% of our entire energy. So that ratio is just incredible. And what we have in our operating system is that we have biological rules that are designed to conserve our energy.

Bryan: Right.

Christoph: So we typically don’t kick in, if you will, the best of our thinking, the best of our information processing. Memorization is very fragile. Most of what we remember is actually done while we sleep. So a lot of the functions that are ruling our brains, if you will, are completely under the dominance of the primal brain.

Bryan: Interesting. So those of you who have the fancy three-thousand-deck slides that show your intellectual prowess, that shows how wonderful you are, and you’re all frustrated over the fact that some newcomer has five slides, and has clearly an inferior product which outsells you all day long. And it’s really because they’ve made it super easy for the buyer to understand. And it hits them at the emotional spot where they make the decision. Is it that simple?

Christoph: It can be. It’s true, as you say, that some people with an inferior product could have this fabulously clear and compelling presentation. But I would argue that if you don’t do a good job nailing that pain, if your demo is not able to solidify the value of your product, at some point in that process even the primal brain is going to say, “I don’t think so.” (Laughter)
But as you know, there are people that have this inner energy and exuberance that can appear extremely trustworthy. And the impression of people, (and of course COVID has changed a lot of that), it can be enough to carry a sale, even if your message is weak.
Now at Sales Brain, my company, we hope to have both. We want the product and the solution to be bullet proof. And we want the message to be clean. And we want that delivery to be fantastically impressive for that primal brain.

Bryan: Yeah. And I really appreciate that. That’s why I was excited to have you on here. And let me just be frank. You’re screwing up as a business owner. You’re screwing up as the leader of sales and marketing if you don’t get this down, because if you are doing a community this service, if you have a superior product, you’re doing them a disservice if you’re not allowing them to buy because of your inability to speak clearly. So I think this is really important.

Christoph: Yeah. And to your point, it’s not just a disservice; it’s a loss.

Bryan: Yeah.

Christoph: And so many products fail often because of that aspect, because the product may be brilliant. But the message that comes with it is disastrous.

Bryan: 100%. All right. So we have make it personal. Contrast it. Show some evidence. What’s number four?

Christoph: #4 is in reference to the memorization. You need to make your message memorable. And because memory is fragile we have some recommendations in terms of how you construct your message. I already talked about it: pain first, claims, evidence. And then you close by repeating everything.
So what’s really important about making something memorable is that what is presented at the beginning of a message and at the end will receive more attention. So we—

Bryan: The law of primacy and the law of recency kind of thing?

Christoph: Yes, exactly. So attention is a U-shaped curve, which is why you really only have seconds to grab that attention, to hijack that attention. And pain will do that.
And you will experience a dip. You know, you will experience that point of energy conservation. Which is why you cannot go beyond three benefits, because three is already kind of the maximum chunks of information that we can hold onto. And—

Bryan: We’re in trouble here, because if we need to break this down into three, we’re at four right now.

Christoph: Yes. But I’m teaching you something; I’m not trying to sell you. So what I’m talking about is really in the purpose of helping people grasp the essence of a product or a solution. Now in our case you’re right. We have a bunch of check lists that go beyond three. But actually our entire model is around pain, claim and gain, which is that evidence piece.
And those three words do rhyme—pain, claim, gain. They’re very short because it makes our message more memorable. So every single time you can find a way to make your benefits rhyme, to make them easy to remember, to make them sing, it will actually make it easier for the brain to remember.
You know, figure the names of stock that are easy to remember and are receiving more preference for investment purposes. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. That’s the way our brain is effectively processing information, on the basis of how easy it is to remember.

Bryan: So putting it in terms of making it rhyme right?—pain, claim and gain, making it rhyme,--if I can’t get it to rhyme would it be an acrostic, or is it a story? If I can’t get it to rhyme, what may be some different ways that I can do it if I can’t get it to rhyme?

Christoph: Yeah. So a story framework is a really powerful framework because we’ve been using stories for thousands of years. And what do stories achieve? Well, they typically have few descriptors in the story—you know, the protagonist and what’s at stake in this. There are aspects in the story that allow you to encapsulate the information that you’re receiving.
So a story is basically a package. And that helps our brains because we don’t like unstructured information. We don’t like data details being thrown at us. But if there is a meme, or if there is a story, or if there is a theme, then that thread makes it easier for our brains to remember.
So it’s all about finding that thread for what you sell, and understanding that we struggle remembering anything. Our brains are not really designed to remember much. Our brains are designed to adapt and navigate a world that didn’t use to have as much information. You know, we collect in twenty minutes today the amount of information that we would have collected in our lifetime a hundred years ago.

Bryan: Wow! Impressive!

Christoph: Okay? But our brains haven’t evolved to do that, right? So we are still bombarded with all kinds of information. But our band width has not improved. So we’re finding ourselves constantly ignoring things. We are bombarded with advertising messages. 99% of them are completely ignored.

Bryan: Right.

Christoph: And especially because they’re not doing the work that I recommend.

Bryan: Correct; yeah, because if it’s a features-and-benefits or a me-too they thing, you’re not really standing out, which doesn’t make a contrast. It’s not personal. There is no evidence. Even if you put the evidence in it you’re not paying attention to it; so what?

Christoph: Exactly.

Bryan: How about five? What’s the fifth one?

Christoph: So the fifth one is that our most dominant sensory channel is visual. And so that’s probably not going to surprise you too much. But it’s really important to understand that no sense takes more space or real estate in our brains than the visual channel. That’s #1.
#2, is that we’ve been largely avoiding to be killed or eaten because of that capacity to identify visually. You know, in just about fifteen milliseconds we can identify a snake. And so our speed and priority is to process visually. And that’s true regardless of our education.
And you mentioned NLP earlier. I have studied NLP. But I’m not a super big fan of many of the findings from NLP because they’re really not scientific per se, especially for instance this idea that we have learning channels—auditory, kinesthetic or visual.
At the core we’re visual decision-making machines. We crave visual understanding. And we have done this for millions of years.
It’s really important to understand how you communicate visually. And the idea is not just to put a picture in front of your product. The idea is to create stories that can be decoded visually.
So in my company we create stories based on two images—life without, life with. We create video stories which do not require people to listen to a voice-over.
Think about videos that force you to listen to audio. Well, that means that they force you to use your cortex to process the content. And so many videos are basically unusable because they do not only explain visually. So this visual sense is one that is the fast track to the primal brain.
And the last one—Yes, go ahead.

Bryan: I was just going to ask. So how do we make it visual in today’s day and age. I want to make sure that I got this, because it’s not just sending an email with a picture in it. It’s not just a video from the sounds event. Is it that story that makes it visual?

Christoph: Let me give you an example back to the two systems. I’m sure you’re familiar with life insurance and getting messages on life insurance. They often look like this one, right?, where there is a logical approach. Most people believe that life insurance policies are all the same, but that’s not the case. If anything happens to you your loved ones will suffer, bla bla bla.

Bryan: Right.

Bryan: Right.

Christoph: The problem, as you can see in this visual, is that the first impact to the brain is at the primal brain level. And the primal brain doesn’t even read. It doesn’t even understand text. So the primal brain can’t get excited about seeing a message that in this case is not visual at all.

Bryan: Right.

Christoph: It’s purely cortical, right? Now on life insurance this is another message, right? And this is actually a real campaign. We tested it in our lab. And by that I mean that we hooked people up and their brains, and so on.
And the results were phenomenal. Why? Because yes, it sounds a little goofy and crazy. But the message immediately sends the message to the primal brain that death can happen. And even if you’re young and in good health it can happen at the absolute worst moment.
And that message doesn’t just sit in the primal brain. It will now move up to our frontal lobes where we start thinking, You know what? Maybe I should start thinking about contracting life insurance. So that gate, if you will, of the possibility that life insurance would reduce the risk for my family to be left with debt, and so on. All of that more sophisticated part of the message is a second step in the process.

Bryan: So the picture that he has up on the screen is a massive shark right behind what I guess is a naked woman.

Christoph: She’s not naked. It looks like she’s naked, but this is a—(Laughter)

Bryan: She’s not naked; it just looks like it. And it says, “You never know,” right? So it gets to that visual. It gets to the shock. It instantly puts you back to that “Jaws” scene, right?

Christoph: Yes.

Bryan: So it does a whole bunch of things so you know what’s going to happen here.
So okay. So if we sent a picture like this, is that what you’re suggesting? In an email you send a picture like this? Or is it that you talk through it like we are here? What’s the way of—

Christoph: Well, that’s a good point. And you have to adjust that message to the context in which it is used. It can be used as campaigns. It can be used on websites. So we do a lot of work for clients. And we create these visuals, these grabbing visuals that are living on their home page—showing life without and life with.
I’ll show you an example of this kind of contrast. In this example here,--

Bryan: So again, everyone listening to this audio will have this for you.

Christoph: Yes. This is an interesting example of a company that helps to give you some ability to navigate your choice of college. And that portal gives you access to all kinds of templates that you can use to in a way negotiate the discounts or aid that you could receive. And so, as you can see, the idea of this visual is that you have choices. You can just basically let colleges over-charge and rob you. Or you can grab your degree at a fraction of the cost because you were smart by getting a virtual college consultant, right?

Bryan: Yes.

Christoph: So this is one way to visually communicate, to whet the appetite of the frontal lobes.

Bryan: Okay.

Christoph: So in other words it’s really that preparation, that launch pad that we’re talking about.

Bryan: Okay. So we’re going to make it visual. One simplistic picture tells a story. And what’s the sixth step?

Christoph: The last one is sort of the most difficult in most companies to execute. Particularly business-to-business companies often feel that they’re doing computer, IT, or they’re doing construction. There’s no room for variation; this is serious business. So in general people in business have shut down. In a way, many of their messages tend to be neutral. And you go onto websites and professional service companies, and so on. It’s somber.
Well, here’s the bad news. The primal brain is an emotional brain. And therefore if you’re not giving me some sort of emotional cocktail, not only will I not pay attention to it, but I will not remember it.
So the importance of this last one is to understand the role of emotions in decision. And this has been interesting to me, because for a long time in business emotions were described as bad. Emotions were described as a compromising good decision. But we now know essentially the opposite. We need the help and the push of our emotions to solidify decisions. And more importantly our memory is affected by emotions.

Bryan: So the last one then is that it must be emotional. So make sure I have this right.
#1. Make it personal.
#2. Make sure you have a vivid, clear contrast.
#3. Evidence.
#4. Make the message memorable.
#5. Make it visual.
And #6. Make it emotional.

Christoph: Right. For those of you who are on the program, in the book we actually have an entire visual summarizing all these concepts. And we also have that map available for free on our website.

Bryan: Okay.

Christoph: I did the same thing with my new book, The Serenity Code, and created a map of the entire book towards the end of the book, so that people can have a quick reference which is visual to remember the concepts. So—

Bryan: So eat your own dog food.

Christoph: Well you have to. You can’t be credible in my space unless you walk the talk.

Bryan: Yes, exactly. All right. So with those six steps let’s take this in a couple of different ways, then. From an outbound prospecting, can I use this? How would you suggest to a sales development rep, or an account executive that needs to do outreach, that doesn’t have a marketing arm behind them to make all of these pretty pictures, how would you say, “Hey, you can take what we’re doing and make application of that?” How would you speak to that sales development rep or that account executive?
Christoph: Well, I would say the guidance of a good book. I mean, it’s a very small investment, you know. We also have online courses. And so there are plenty of our clients that realize that “well, I can follow some of those guidelines if I have a template,” instead of improvising.
I mean, I know that so many people tend to look at their slides and think, well, these are just meant to help me. You know, they’re crutches, because I can’t remember everything I’m supposed to say. So I’m just going to put together some slides.
We don’t realize that we need to think about the audience, not about us. And the experience of the audience in front of the slide is typically exactly what I mentioned. We don’t read. We hate to read. And that’s because it’s taxing on our brains. We certainly don’t want people to read for us; it’s the most annoying thing. We want to understand where this is going right away so that we can pace ourselves.
“Oh, you’re telling me that you have three compelling reasons why?”
Okay, now I know. I know that the story has three chapters. And in a way that helps me to manage my expectation. So all these steps are fairly easy to implement. It’s like learning to improve your tennis game or your golf game. It’s not going to happen overnight. It requires practice.
And so for us the discipline of being better at selling, using these methods, is to rehearse, practice, and take it seriously. Take it as a condition upon which you will be successful.

Bryan: Yes, because if you’re not figuring this out, competition is too fierce right now. I mean—

Christoph: Well, yeah.

Bryan: Life has changed. And if you don’t learn this stuff, with the old status quo you’re going to get passed up. That is my belief. So yeah, you can’t just be doing status quo.
So that was really, really good. So at the end of this we’ll give contact information and everything else so you can get hold of Christoph and start to leverage a lot of this stuff.
So as we start to wrap down, (because my gosh, I could talk about this stuff all day here), as we wind down, can you share this with us? You ran a business. You work with a number of businesses. Can you give us an idea of maybe one of the key lessons, an area where you stubbed your toe or somebody else has, and ran into the pain and frustration so maybe we can avoid that same pain and frustration? What’s the lesson learned that you can give us?

Christoph: I think the big lesson is to make sure that you’re not in some way a victim of social media platforms especially, or even of monsters like Google and others that really don’t want you to improve your messages. Their entire business model is to suggest that they are going to give you all the data you need to understand whether your message is working or not. As long as you continue to pay us for impressions, why don’t you just ask A. and B.
And it’s a trap. And it’s a dangerous trap, because you have this illusion. Well, I’m getting all the analytics, and so on. But you forget that analytics, particularly online, are really only confirming a behavior that is not telling you everything about what’s going on in people’s heads.
So the clicks I think that are more important which you will never use, (unless you do market research using neuroscience), but the clicks you really want to pay attention to are the clicks inside your head, and not so much the clicks on a mouse. And so be very careful not to waste a lot of dollars because you feel that you have the illusion of all these analytics. Question your message first, rather than trying to do A.-B. testing. You could do A.-B. testing until your face is blue, and continue to test two terrible messages.

Bryan: Got it.

Christoph: Without a theory, without a framework to improve A. or B., you can continue to waste a lot of money.

Bryan: Interesting. So without a framework I can keep testing away and do the absolute wrong thing. But at least if I get a framework I can contextualize it and say one improvement to get that message a little bit tighter, a little bit more emotional, a little bit more clear, right?

Christoph: That’s right. And so, you know, I’m not saying that companies are not going to figure out a way to automate the learning. You know, you’ve heard of machine learning. So it is conceivable that a company could completely automate changes on a message, and then ultimately adjust based on those results. And you may get there eventually, but it could take months and years. Whereas if you are using a framework right from the beginning I think you can save a lot of time and money and effort.

Bryan: Yeah. And frameworks work darn near everywhere, so I like that.

Christoph: Yes.

Bryan: But I have some cognitive bias on that one.

Christoph: Yeah. (Laughter)

Bryan: So any resources that you might recommend—books, podcasts, guides? What suggestions would you give to people to improve?

Christoph: Well, of course, I’ll be selfish here.

Bryan: Please do.

Christoph: My frontal brain is. I do think that our book The Persuasion Code is a good read. And for those of you who are finding it difficult to manage your anxiety and stress, I think this is really my best book, because it’s the most personal book in looking at how you use neuroscience to re-wire your brain. Brain plasticity is a really important topic right now because we can’t just expect mitigation and things to go away on their own. We have to work on ourselves. And that’s what the book is about.
Bryan: And just so you know, that’s The Serenity Code. Correct?
Christoph: Yes. And so there’s a site called

Which in fact features all my books. So you can go there. There is a lot on our own website,

Lots of examples of companies that we’ve done work for. So I think you can learn a lot. And people do that just by looking at our examples which show the application of what we teach. As you said in the intro, this is not just about educating you about primal and rational. This is about telling you that you can apply that whether your budge is $200 a month or $2 million a month. And we have clients from the small business member to the typical Vistage member who has ten to $50 million in revenue, all the way to Intel and Facebook and all these large companies.

Bryan: Yeah.

Christoph: And so all businesses can benefit.

Bryan: Okay; got it. So those are two good resources there. And help us understand. I mean, Christoph, you’ve been doing this for a couple days. What does the future hold? I mean, what do we need to be paying attention to? What’s coming down the pike?

Christoph: Well, obviously the current situation is accelerating the move towards virtual platforms. So we in fact introduced a course on how to pitch using Zoom, because there are specific challenges presented by virtual communication. And so anyone in sales today, whether you like it or not, will agree that being featured on Zoom or Skype is almost a daily event. So how do you prepare for that? What can you do to maximize your effectiveness? I would encourage people to do that, to really take that seriously.
I would encourage people to re-examine what it is that you have online, to present your value propositions or your website. Challenge the website not as a digital brochure but as an online sales person. So what do you want that experience to be? A lot of websites are terribly architected because they’re just put together by people who make websites; they’re not message experts.

Bryan: Right.

Christoph: So there are a lot of opportunities there. And yes, learn to optimize your message effectiveness. It’s potentially a bid deal to close business and save money so that you don’t waste it with messages that have a zero probability of working.

Bryan: All right. Well, I have my reading cut out for me, especially with The Serenity Code. I want to dive into that and see, because let’s face it. From a sales perspective, and even for leaders out there, it’s a little bit stressful.

Christoph: It sure is.

Bryan: So how do we use the tools to calm down? And if we had more time we could go into that.
But for right now, Christoph, I can’t thank you enough for your time and your expertise here. Who should reach out to you, how should they do it, and why should people reach out to you?

Christoph: Again, the best way for me is always email. Christoph is spelled like Christopher, but no r at the end. So it’s

To reach out, my email is the easiest and best way to do that.

Bryan: Good. Well, I can’t thank you enough, Christoph, for your insights—the six steps. We’ll make it emotional, visual, good memorable messages. Show some evidence. Contrast it with what their pains and frustrations are today, and what a life with Christoph would be.
So thanks so much, everyone. On behalf of Christoph Morin, also known as Moran if you’re English like me, thank you so very much. Signing off. Get after it. This is Bryan Whittington of The Talent, Sales and Scale Show. See you. Get after it!

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