Episode #004: Understanding the Brain’s Unconscious Choices with Dr. Susan Weinschenk
In this Episode of The Buyer’s Mind with Jeff Shore:
Have you heard of Dual Process Theory? Did your eyes just flutter and your brain start to shut down when you saw the words Dual Process Theory? Don’t despair, this really important topic is something that will help you connect better with your customers and Jeff breaks it down in his usual fun and casual way with the help of Dr. Susan Weinschenk.
Topics we’re going to cover on today’s podcast:
- [3:21] Quote of the Day!
- [4:34] Sales Tip of the Day
- [7:13] What is Behavioral Psychology?
- [10:20] Understanding how decisions are made
- [11:56] Unconscious decision making
- [14:28] Subconscious vs unconscious
- [17:40] Dual process theory
More about our guest Dr. Susan Weinschenk
Susan Weinschenk has a Ph.D. in Psychology, and is the Chief Behavioral Scientist and CEO at The Team W, Inc, as well as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Wisconsin.
Susan consults on with Fortune 1000 companies, start-ups, governments and non-profits, and is the author of several books, including 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People, 100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People and How To Get People To Do Stuff. Susan is co-host of the HumanTech podcast, and writes her own blog and a column for Psychology Today online.
Links from today’s podcast:
Our Sponsor: Home Street Bank
Jeff: What role does the unconscious mind play in a purchase decision? Just a light topic to banter around right after this.
Announcer: Welcome to The Buyer’s Mind, where we take a closer look deep inside your customer’s decision-making mechanism to reverse engineer the perfect sales presentation. Now, please welcome your host, Jeff Shore.
Jeff: Welcome everyone to The Buyer’s Mind, where we investigate exactly what’s going on in the brains of our prospects who are considering a purchase decision. And my take on this is if I understand the way that a buyer wants to buy, if I really understand that process, even the unconscious process, then I can structure my sales presentation accordingly. And that’s what this podcast is all about.
We like to have some fun, though, and celebrate those interesting, wonderful, wacky world of sales along the way. I’m your host, Jeff Shore. You can read the full bio in the show notes, or you can visit jeffshore.com, and you’ll have the opportunity while you’re there to sign up for our Saturday morning video newsletter, a few minutes of inspiration each Saturday morning, and I’m joined on the show by my producer, Mr. Paul Murphy. Murph, how are you, sir?
Paul: I am doing really well. How are you?
Jeff: Good, good, good. Hey, Murph, you’re the tech guy. What’s the latest in tech that you’re seeing out there these days?
Paul: Yeah. You know, being a video guy, Jeff, I’ve got to say that 4K televisions are absolutely amazing because that is the same quality that you get in the movie theater.
Jeff: So, all right, are you telling me I need to go out and buy another new television?
Paul: Here’s the bad news. In another year or two, 8K televisions are going to be coming out, so you might want to save your pennies so that your wife doesn’t get too angry with you for buying a TV now.
Jeff: All right, so I have two years to convince Karen that I’m gonna need a television. At some point, though, does the picture quality get so good that the eye can’t even tell the difference anymore?
Paul: You know, that is one of the interesting questions. For some people, beyond 2K, color information doesn’t really start to make any difference, and so I’m not sure how much 4K and 8K really buy you beyond kind of twice the level of what HD is.
Jeff: Yeah, interesting. All right. Well, we’ll watch it carefully and see what happens too with the prices as they come along. Well, that’s all about sort of how the brain picks up color, but now we’re going to talk about, on today’s episode, how the brain sorts out, unconsciously, what’s happening in a purchase decision. And coming up in just a few minutes, an incredibly fascinating interview with Dr. Susan Weinschenk, a.k.a. “The Brain Lady.” Dr. Weinschenk is a psychologist who specializes in the area of behavioral economics, that is, why people do what they do. And she’s gonna talk to us about the very process of decision-making and how much of that occurs in the unconscious brain. And it’s based on some of the latest science on the subject, and here’s the problems. When you know your customer well enough, even on a deep level of how their brain works, then that sales path is gonna begin to roll out right in front of you.
All right, so, stay with us because at the end I’m going to give you some instructions as to how you’ll be able to enter our launch contest. We’ve got a contest that’s ongoing just for the launch of this podcast with some great prizes. You’ll want to stay tuned to that. Our quote of the day, a regular part of each show. This one comes from that world-renown philosopher, Lily Tomlin. I love this quote. Here’s what Lily Tomlin said, “I always wanted to be someone. I guess I should have been more specific.” Isn’t that great? Is that an awesome quote? It speaks, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek manner, of the need to really understand what we’re trying to do in life. And that’s appropriate as we kick off this episode all about knowing her customers and maybe learning a little about ourselves along the way.
Hey, I wanna tell you that the podcast is brought to you in part by our good friends at HomeStreet Bank. This is not just a show sponsor. This is also my personal lender of choice. I used HomeStreet Bank in a home purchase recently, and I have to tell you, it was an amazing transaction, smoothest transaction that I’ve ever had, and I’ve purchased a number of homes. Professional, dependable, great rates, great service, and if you are a real estate professional listening today, you just won’t find better people to work with in taking care of your clients. And they can do it all, banking, home loans, credit lines, you name it. Go to homestreetbank.com, and you can learn more. That’s homestreetbank.com.
Before we get to our interview with Dr. Weinschenk, we bring you our Sales Tip of the Day, and today’s tip is how do you remember a customer’s name? This is an ongoing issue. I’ve had to deal with this myself. I’ve talked to literally thousands of salespeople who have struggled with the same thing, and here’s the tip. Repeat it back quickly. Now, here’s the idea. When you hear a name, you hear it externally, but when you say it, you hear it internally. So when you repeat it back, and you do it very quickly, you will greatly increase your retention. And, in fact, if you could do it more than once very quickly, you’re going to increase the odds further still. So, when I meet someone for the first time, he introduces himself and says, “My name is Jim.” I can say, “Oh, Jim, nice to meet you, Jim. Thanks for being here today.” I just said it twice but in a very quick and conversational way. I’m hearing it internally, and it’s going to help my retention. I want to tell you, this isn’t just a good sales skill. This is a good life skill, so my suggestion is practice this in non-sales environments, at a restaurant, at a company function, the gym, church. Wherever you meet people, make it a habit and have some fun with it.
And before we get to our interview, let me tell you about an opportunity. I want to invite you to join us for the 2017 Jeff Shore Sales Leadership Summit and Exposition. To become a better leader for your career, for you team to grow in ways that you never thought possible. And to take your career to the next level. Now this is specifically targeted toward real estate executives but we’ve had people outside the real estate industry who’ve gotten so much out of this. As the premiere industry gathering, you’re going to learn from the best of the best about what it takes to make you a better leader, a better manager, a better coach, with more insights, more actual strategies, with more “aha” moments than ever before. You’re gonna come away from the Summit confident that you possess the tools and the knowledge, not only to succeed, but to truly change the world. And I have to tell you one other thing. We do this at the Loews Coronado Resort in beautiful, just outside of San Diego. We do it on a Thursday-Friday. Most of our guests, hundreds of guests spend the weekend. We’ve done this year after year. They spend the weekend in San Diego, there are worse place to be in August than San Diego, it’s a beautiful city, you’re going to come away renewed and refreshed. You can find more information about the Summit and other exclusive training events throughout the year for sales leaders and for sales pros at jeffshore.com/events.
Well, let’s get to our interview. I’m really excited to hear from Dr. Susan Weinschenk. She’s a behavioral scientist, and we’ll unpack that in just a moment here. Ph.D. in psychology, she’s the CEO at The Team W. You can go to theteamw.com to see more about that. She’s also an adjunct professor at The University of Wisconsin. She consults with Fortune 1000 companies, startups, governments, nonprofits, and she’s the author of several books. My favorite, “How to Get People to Do Stuff,” it’s great. Blogger, podcaster, she’s a columnist for psychologytoday.com. High recommend to read her stuff on psychologytoday.com, but she’s also called “The Brain Lady,” and I wanna kinda start there. Susan, you’re a behavioral scientist, “The Brain Lady,” so let’s do it this way. You’re at a cocktail party. Someone with a short attention span asks you, “What does that mean?” How do you describe a behavioral scientist?
Dr. Weinschenk: Well, I’m someone who studies and reads and talks about why people behave the way they do.
Jeff: Okay. Fair enough. That’s a big subject, and there’s a lot to unpack here.
Dr. Weinschenk: It is, yeah.
Jeff: But it sounds fascinating. How did that spark your interest, and how long have you been thinking, “Why do people do what they do?”
Dr. Weinschenk: All right, you want the true story?
Jeff: Yeah, please.
Dr. Weinschenk: The true story is that I had started my college career at Virginia Tech, and then for a variety of reasons I had to drop out, and I moved to Boston. And I was working during the day and going to school at night. And for any of you who’ve ever done that, it can take forever when you’re going to night school because you’re not always able to take a full load of classes. And I discovered that if I took some of these exams where they would give you college credit, you know, if you could pass the exam, then I could shorten up my college stay. And when I looked to see what should I take for the exam that I thought wouldn’t be too hard, I picked these psychology exams. I read some text books, and I took the exams, and they were much harder than I thought they’d be. But I did pass, and so then all of the sudden, the fastest route out of college was to get a degree in psychology. And I just kind of shrugged and said, “Well, maybe I’ll do that,” and then I fell in love with it. I mean, I loved the classes, and I realized, “Wow, this is what I want to study.”
So I did graduate school in psychology, and then I got out, and I taught college, and I started my own consulting business. And over time, as I kept reading and learning about all the new stuff, especially the new research on the brain and unconscious mental processing, I realized that I love psychology. I always do, but actually, I love it a little bit broader than psychology because not just what’s going on inside our own heads but all about the interactions between people. And, you know, so that’s behavioral science. To me, behavioral science is a little bit broader than psychology, and that’s kind of how I got into it.
Jeff: Because if you put some perspective on that, if you wanna understand the way that people make decisions, you have to look both at the psychology but also the neurosciences, right? And this is an evolving science. We had Scott Halford on the show, and he said something interesting. He said, “When it comes to what we understand about the chemistry of the brain, most of what we know we’ve learned essentially in the last 10 years, maybe 10 to 20 years.” But this is really an evolving science, and you as a behavioral scientist have to understand both sides, right, both the psychology and the neuroscience of what’s going on in the brain.
Dr. Weinschenk: Yes, definitely, and the person you were talking to is right. It’s really been in the last 10 years that we’re starting to understand what’s going on in the brain and then starting to understand how that impacts, you know, why we do what we do, why we make decisions Why do people decide, for instance, to buy something? Like, what triggers that? Why do they believe some…you know, why do they trust some people and not other people? The whole brain part of it, we call it brain and behavioral science because the two are definitely linked up together. So I think it’s great fun, and I have so much fun applying this to, you know, not just my own life and what I see around me but then, you know, to my clients who wanna use this information to be smarter about the products and services that they provide.
Jeff: Is there a big idea that, just as we’re getting started here, can sum up just maybe even one key thought that would help a sales professional to understand a little bit more about how their customer makes a decision? So, I’m trying to come up with just sort of this umbrella over the entire conversation. Is there a big idea that you can throw at us?
Dr. Weinschenk: Well, you know, with salespeople, what I think is so fascinating is that they actually know a lot of all this brain science stuff, but they don’t know they know it. So I would think…for the broad umbrella question, I would say that most mental processing, most decision-making, occurs unconsciously. That’s, like, the big thought. And, like I said, I think as we start to talk about what that means and, you know, why am I saying that and what’s the research behind it, I think the people listening will say, “Well, yeah, I knew that.” But they might not know exactly what’s going on, you know, with neurons, so maybe we could tell them why what they’re doing is working.
Jeff: Sure. You know, I see that so often when I’m talking to sales professionals, and if we unpack something like Dual-Process theory and start thinking about, you know, System 1 and System 2 or however…it’s been described obviously in many different ways, but the salespeople see so much of themselves in the description. And then they start seeing their customer in the description, and you can just see the light bulbs going on. And, again, as you say, they know it. They just don’t know they know it, and so it sounds like your job is really helping them connect the dots, right? These pieces of information are already kind of floating around your brain. How do we assemble them all together so that it makes sense, right?
Dr. Weinschenk: Yeah, and I think it also helps because sometimes you’ve got, like… You know, again, you may not be able to describe why what you’re doing works, but you’ve got maybe, you know, 90% of it right, but for some reason with some people this doesn’t seem to work, and you don’t understand why. And so I think the research on behavioral science and brain science gives you that extra missing piece, right? It’s like, “Oh, that’s why sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t or, you know, why it worked with this customer but not that customer.”
Jeff: Right, right. You had said that most of the decision-making processing is unconscious, and I want to unpack that and spend a little time on it because I saw you on Will Barron’s podcast. Great episode, by the way, and…
Dr. Weinschenk: It was very fun.
Jeff: Well, he’s a great guy. I could listen to him all day long, but it’s interesting because you corrected him, and actually several times, because he continually referred to the subconscious. And you were like…
Dr. Weinschenk: And then he started correcting himself, and it was very cute.
Jeff: Right, right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I have to tell you, that had an impact on me, Susan, because then I had to correct myself afterwards. Every time I thought about or started to speak about the subconscious, I had to look at it and say, “No, no, no. What would Susan Weinschenk say?” So, tell us a little bit about that differentiation, because the natural thought is to say, “This occurs in the subconscious.” You say, “No, no, no, it occurs in the unconscious.” Give us some line of demarcation there.
Dr. Weinschenk: Yeah, I mean, and I don’t mean to be petty about terminology, but in some ways I think this is important because the subconscious, the term “subconscious,” is not a scientific term. So if you’re reading the literature, if you’re reading a research study about something about the brain, and they want to talk about the fact that a particular aspect, a particular thought, a particular firing is not in conscious awareness, okay, they’re going to say it’s unconscious. They’re not going to say “sub”, they’re going to say “un.” And in psychology terms, why that’s so important is that the whole idea of the subconscious, that term comes from Freud and Freud was a psychologist that was working in around the 1930s, 1940s. And it was a time in the field of psychology that most of us consider actually not particularly scientific.
So, Freud had some amazing ideas that have impacted not only the field of psychology and behavioral science but just our general way we talk and think, you know, about people and dreams and relationships. And he had some interesting ideas as some of them have been borne out by science. Many have not, and so we kind of like to distance ourselves from that because psychology and behavioral science is definitely a science now with real research and real, rigorous studies. And so if you say “subconscious”, it’s like, “Well, what is that, and what does that mean?”
You know, He had the Ego, the Id, the subconscious and, you know, you can’t research that, so we don’t talk about that in research. When I started studying the new research that’s been in the last 10 years, I noticed right away that they were using the term “unconscious.” And so I just decided that I was going to adopt that term, so that’s why I kept bothering Will.
Jeff: No, it was great. It was great. It was great. Would you say that the unconscious is really the foundation of System 1 thinking? Because we think about Dual-Process theory and, you know, certainly Daniel Kahneman’s book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow” delved to a tremendous extent, especially the early part of the book, in Dual-Process. But we can go back to, you know, Keith Stanovich and even Herbert Simon in looking at Dual-Process theory. Describe Dual-Process theory to us just real quick, how the systems work, and then maybe we can get into how much the unconscious plays in Dual-Process theory.
Dr. Weinschenk: Yeah, sure, so, yeah, Kahneman’s book is so wonderful, and I love it. I recommend it all the time, and then sometimes people will say to me, “Now, that’s kind of a serious book.” I mean, it’s a big book. I loved it, but it might be, I guess, at times maybe too academic for some people, but he describes…
Jeff: Well, I think the problem with the book is that, for me, it took me a long time to read it, not because they were heavy words, but because I had to constantly stop, write in the margin, look up and to the right and say, “Now, how does that apply in all these different areas?” To me, it was such an exploratory book that it took me a long time to read it, but I loved every minute of it.
Dr. Weinschenk: Yeah, there’s a lot in there, but Kahneman says, basically, there are two ways, two types of thinking. System 1 thinking is the easy, intuitive, automatic, you’re not thinking very much mode. And yes, that would be the largely unconscious mode. And then System 2 is when you’re thinking hard, concentrating, focusing, thinking about a particular problem or situation, and that would be the System 2 mode which would be largely a conscious mode. And what he says is that most of the time, most people are wandering around in System 1 mode. We’re just not thinking that much, so that’s part of unconscious mental processing, definitely. But I think there’s even more. I mean, there’s so much going on. You know, your brain is constantly, constantly processing information. Information is coming in from your vision and your hearing and your sense of touch, and that’s all being processed and filtered and interpreted without you knowing it.
As well as, you know, as we’re sitting here, and we’re talking, and I’m in conscious mode right now. I’m thinking about what I’m saying and how I want to explain it, but while I’m doing that, my brain is actually solving problems that have nothing to do with our conversation, you know, solving problems for the client I’m working with. And, I mean, there’s all this stuff going on in my brain of which I am totally unaware. And then every now and then, your brain decides that this particular thought or idea or piece of information or interpretation should be pulled into conscious thought, and then it will bubble up. And there’s actually kind of a network of different brain areas and different neurons called “the salience network” is what the scientists call it. And it’s kind of a system in your brain that is constantly monitoring all the unconscious information and thought processes and deciding, “I think we’d better bring this one up to conscious awareness.”
And so if you’ve ever had…we’ve all had those “aha” moments, right, when you’re not even thinking about a problem, or you didn’t even know there was a problem. You’re just, like, you know, going for a walk or driving home or whatever it is, and all of a sudden you just get this idea. You know, “Hey, maybe I should call John and tell him about, you know, A, B, C.” And, well, that’s your salience network bringing to consciousness a whole bunch of stuff and mental processing that was going on of which you’re totally unaware.
Jeff: So, let’s put this in the context of here’s a consumer walking into a store, a retail center, a sales office of some kind, and System 1 there is in the unconscious, is picking up everything, light, tone, shading, temperature, smells, sounds. Just everything is being registered at the same time, and the brain being the amazing machine that it is is working on all of that stuff, but the overwhelming majority is automatically being relegated into the unconscious. Is there anything that’s triggering System 2? Is there anything that’s triggering the conscious, or is it just some matter of it has to stand out? Or is it more tied to their motives when they walk through the door? How do we know…is there a way to know what’s going to get kicked up into System 2?
Dr. Weinschenk: Well, yes and no. I mean, there are definitely things that you can do that will actually kick someone into System 2 mode. So essentially, you know, you’re wandering around in System 1 mode, but if anything becomes too difficult, then System 1 mode just like, “Well, I can’t handle that.” I mean, Kahneman did some of his…and you may remember this from reading the book. You know, if you’re reading something in a font that is hard to read, you know, like, the text is hard to read for some reason, that’ll actually kick you into System 2 mode. And you’ll start thinking about it more deliberately just because the font is hard to read.
I mean, and a lot of times you’re kicked into System 2 mode when…you know, let’s say that you’ve been trying to solve a problem. You’re trying to solve a problem at work, and now you’re meeting with a salesperson who’s telling you about, oh, maybe a new training program they have, right. And you’re kind of half listening, half not, and thinking about, you know, what you’re gonna order for lunch. But there’s something that the salesperson might be saying that all of a sudden your unconscious realizes, “Hey, wait, that might solve that problem you have with team dynamics.”
Jeff: So it might just be tied to relevance, just how relevant are the words that are coming out of the salesperson’s mouth to my situation at any given time?
Dr. Weinschenk: It might be, and it might…but then there might be things like, you know, your salesperson might remind you unconsciously of your brother, and, you know, maybe you like your brother. Or maybe you don’t like your brother, and all of the sudden now, right, there’s these…your unconscious is going, “I don’t think I trust this guy. I don’t like this guy.” And then you might come into conscious thinking, you know, “I’m not ready to make this purchase.” So that’s why it’s so difficult because there’s all this stuff going on, right, under the surface that not only do you as a salesperson not know about, the person doesn’t even know about.
Jeff: Well, yeah, and now you’re getting into… I’m about halfway through Robert Cialdini’s new book, “Pre-Suasion”, and so much of it focuses on, you know, the context, on framing, on the physical location, and all of these things that we don’t give any conscious credence to. But boy, it is really pretty profound. But one thing that I thought very interesting about what you were just saying was that if I’m a customer, if I’m shopping for something, I’m talking to a salesperson. As long as that salesperson is talking to me, I may or may not be in System 2 mode to what they are saying, and it might largely depend on how relevant it is to my situation. But if the salesperson is asking me questions that require me to really think about the answer, I have to be in System 2 mode. I have to be operating out of that fully conscious state. I can’t talk out of System 1. System one is unconscious, right?
Dr. Weinschenk: That’s correct, and, you know, so, there’s good things about that, and there’s bad. So, one of the things that I think is really interesting about how the brain makes decisions is that basically, if you’re making what’s called a goal-directed or value decision, right, which is a System 2 decision, I’m thinking, “Should I buy this product or that product?” Or, “Is this the right time for me to make this purchase?” Or, “Do I think this is really worth the money?” Right, I mean, all those kinds of things which are System 2, you know, conscious, deliberative thought, but there’s another kind which is a habit-based decision which is…for instance, this is what I believe, you know, brand loyalty is based on, right. You know, “I always buy from these guys,” you know, or, “I always buy this brand. It’s just what we do. You know, that’s what we’re gonna do.”
So, those two kinds of decisions, a habit-based decision is a System 1 automatic, largely unconscious decision, and then the System 2, you know, goal-directed decision, those actually occur in different parts of the brain. And the interesting thing the research is telling us is that those parts of the brain cannot be active at the same moment. So you’re either making a goal-directed decision, or you’re making a habit decision. Now, in the example you gave where, you know, you’re giving all this information out, right, and you’re stimulating System 2 deliberative thinking, if this person always, you know, typically buys and always places an order for 10 every three months, and you’re talking to them and giving them information and kicking them into System 2 thinking, that might screw up the order. You might not want to do that.
Jeff: This could happen…
Dr. Weinschenk: You want to keep them in the System 1 habit, you know, mode. You kick them into System 2, who knows what might happen?
Jeff: Right. This could happen, I would suspect…
Dr. Weinschenk: You’ll end up starting all over.
Jeff: Sure, sure. In any sales presentation where the customer has effectively already purchased in their brain, and now the salesperson is adding unnecessary detail, we could really scuttle our whole presentation.
Dr. Weinschenk: Right.
Jeff: We’re just about out of time, which is a weird thing to say before I ask this question, but can you talk about the role of emotion in the decision-making process?
Dr. Weinschenk: Definitely, yeah, so, you…first of all, the research shows us that in order to make a decision, you have to have emotion. People will not…the neuron that fires, that makes them say, “I am now buying,” will not fire if there is no emotion. So they need some kind of emotion, and it could be anything. I mean, it can be happiness, or it can be frustration or something, anger. They have to feel something in order to make the decision, so emotion is really, really important, and it’s almost more important that you have emotion than worrying about what the emotion is.
Jeff: It’s just so critical, and I’m trying to remember where I was reading this. I can’t recall off the top of my head, but the study of people who had suffered brain injuries that really affected their emotional senses and asking these people to make a decision was essentially impossible. They couldn’t do it because they…
Dr. Weinschenk: They can’t make any decisions at all.
Jeff: Yeah, it just locked them up, and that really sort of flies in the face of when we think, “Well, you know, the buyer is really more of an engineer type. They’re all logic. They don’t use their emotion.” You look at that and say, “No, that’s bunk.”
Dr. Weinschenk: No, yeah, totally untrue. Unless they’ve had the brain damage you mentioned, everybody’s using emotion to make decisions.
Jeff: All right. Boy, I don’t know how you’re feeling, Susan, but right now I’m feeling like we just sort of scratched the surface, and I’m pretty sure we’re gonna need to do this again at some point, if that’s okay with you.
Dr. Weinschenk: Yeah, that would be great.
Jeff: Good, fantastic, and Susan, you can be reached through your website theteamw.com, and I know you’ve got the podcast and the blog. It’s all there at theteamw.com, yes?
Dr. Weinschenk: Yeah, it is.
Jeff: All right, just fantastic stuff. Thanks so much for being with us today. Really appreciate it.
Dr. Weinschenk: Thanks for having me.
Jeff: Well, Murph, I’ll tell you, I could talk about that all day long. I find this stuff so fascinating and Susan Weinschenk is clearly an expert at what she’s talking about. What are you thinking right now?
Paul: It was so deep. I was really amazed, but I was wondering, can you help me go a little bit deeper in understanding the Dual-Process theory?
Jeff: Yeah. It’s really fascinating stuff. I find it so interesting when we think about how much of our brain works in the unconscious, or as Scott Halford had called it on episode one, the non-conscious. But the point is that it’s not conscious. It’s not something that we’re thinking about, so the brain… We start thinking here. When we think about thinking, that’s what we would call System 2 in Dual-Process theory. It’s the conscious thought. Right now if you’re listening to the description of what Dual-Process theory is, you’re listening with your System 2 brain. That doesn’t mean that the rest of your brain is shut off. Your System 1, that unconscious or non-conscious part of your brain, is still taking everything in. It’s monitoring everything around you. It’s measuring the sounds of air conditioning of the room that you’re in right now. It’s measuring the room temperature. Your System 1 brain is telling you take your next breath and now exhale, right.
So if your System 1 brain was conscious, you just couldn’t because you would spend your whole day going, “Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in.” Right, so this is the idea is that that System 1 takes everything in, and it decides, with a very thin filter, whether it’s important enough to elevate it into the System 2. And I think one of the ways to look at this, this is a really fun way to look at it, if you’ve ever been driving somewhere, and you got to a red light. And you looked around, and you said to yourself, “I have no idea how I got to this place right here, but I cannot begin to remember the last five minutes of my life.” And you’re thinking, “Is there a dead body on the road behind me somewhere?”
Now, look, it’s not like you were driving up on curbs or running over animals. Your System 2 was occupied. You were talking on the hands-free phone. You were thinking about something intense, or maybe it was just the radio was playing, and you’re just like…you’re driving along, “Players gonna play, play, play.” Whatever it is, your System 2 is occupied. Your System 1 is driving, and it’s on automatic thought at that point. And so, we actually do this all day long, where we go through that process. Now, from a buyer’s perspective, this is where, to me, it gets really, really interesting because if you are a buyer, if you are shopping, if you were trying to make a decision, how much of that contemplation is done in System 1? How many decisions are you making in an unconscious or a non-conscious way?
And the fact of the matter is most of them, unless the salesperson comes along and helps you to make those more conscious… Because when a salesperson is asking the right questions, then it draws that customer out of their System 1 and into their System 2. That’s really when the decisions become much firmer and much stronger in their customer’s mind. Did that make sense there, Murph?
Paul: It did. Can you explain one other thing to me, though? When we talked about it, we talked about the salesperson moving someone from a System 1 to a System 2 and scuttling their sale. How does that happen?
Jeff: Well, the emotion resides in the System 1. We typically don’t spend a lot of time in our System 2 saying, “I feel happy,” or, “I feel nervous,” or, “I feel afraid,” or, “I feel excited.” These are all emotions that we’re carrying around, and they are moving us forward, even on our decision-making because, as Susan pointed out and rightly so, that decision is going to be made emotionally, supported logically. So the logic is just sort of the ticket to the dance. If the logic doesn’t make sense, it’s difficult to make a decision to move forward. We are going to make that decision emotionally. So if my emotion is saying, “Boy, this feels right,” it’s saying it on an unconscious or a non-conscious level, “This just feels right to me.” If that’s what my System 1 is telling me, but now as a salesperson, now I’m going to come back and say, “Well, let me tell you about all these great features. Let me engage your System 2 by telling you about the rating on this and the quality on that and what Yelp says about this and how long we’ve been in business over here and the story of our company.” Now I’m trying to feed all of this System 2 data that is highly logical, and I’m going to take that customer away from their otherwise emotional impulse. And now I’m just confusing things. When we move away from our emotion, it becomes very difficult to make a decision.
Paul: So, how does a salesperson know when they’re pushing somebody from their System 1 into their System 2 so that you’re scuttling your sale? How do you avoid that?
Jeff: That’s a really, really important question, and when we figure this out, it changes everything because ultimately, you have to ask yourself as a sales professional, who is this for? So, the more I’m thinking that the sale is about the product, then the less likely it is that I’m going to be in tune with my customers’ emotional basis. But if I’m looking and saying, “No, no, the sale is about my customer,” and about solving the customer’s problem, if I am intensely aware and driven towards the idea that my job here is to solve my customer’s problem, then you’ll be able to read that in a very, very powerful way. And you will know when that customer has turned that emotional corner.
When I look at it from this perspective, the interesting situation that we see that plagues so many sales presentations called “feature dumping.” If you’re in the sales world, you know about feature dumping. It’s the oversharing of features. Feature dumping is always caused by the same thing. There’s always the same root cause, and it is not knowing your customer well enough. You wouldn’t feature dump to your sister or to your best friend. We feature dump because we don’t know our customer very well. But when I know my customer really well, and particularly when I know them very well emotionally, then I am in-tune. We are on the same emotional page, and I’m gonna be far less likely to hit into those detail points of System 2 because I’m connecting with them on System 1. So it’s heady, but it’s real. It’s very, very real. If we miss that emotional connection, we’re in sad shape. We got big problems right there.
Paul: Well, thanks for helping me understand that better.
Jeff: I love that. I loved that Dr. Weinschenk really pointed it from the idea that these are things that we know. We just don’t know that we know, but when we look at it from the perspective and that big idea that most processing is unconscious or non-conscious, if I can look at it from that side, then it causes me to be deeply interested in what’s going on in the psyche of that customer. Really, really fascinating stuff. My thanks to Dr. Susan Weinschenk for sharing her knowledge with us today.
Well, as we head into the wrap-up, I just wanna just challenge your motivation and ask you this question. Why do we do what we do? This is really the core of motivation. Why do we do what we do? It’s an interesting question because sometimes when we’re really frustrated in life, we ask the question, “Why do I do what I do?” Right? But I’m asking you to reframe that and to ask it in a completely different way, in that contemplative, introspective way. “Why do I do what I do?” We have to find our why, and here’s a great test for your why. Ask yourself the question, “What lasts? What will outlast you?” Legacies are about what lasts. Look, the money it doesn’t last. Awards, temporary. If you want to ask why you do what you do, I’m gonna give you a hint. It will probably have something to do with your impact on the people around you. That lasts. That makes a difference. Why do you what you do? Take a little time, a little introspective time to sit down and contemplate what that means and how you identify your core motivation.
All right, hey, at the beginning of this show I told you that we’re running an ongoing contest related to the launch of The Buyer’s Mind podcast, and I’m gonna tell you, you have the chance to win Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise-Canceling headphones. These things, if you’ve never heard of it before, they’re absolutely amazing. I love these when I’m traveling, when I’m listening to a podcast or when I want great quality music that blocks out the noise around me. And for the winner, you can take your choice of either the over the ear or the noise-canceling earbuds. Now, I listen to these, and I love these so much that I actually own both. So when I’m working out, I listen to a podcast. I listen to music, whatever it is, and it’s a fantastic experience.
So, we’re going to give away a pair of Bose headphones, but I’m also giving away several Shore Consulting swag bags. That’s five of my books, a coffee mug, my motivational CD and a bag to carry it all in. And all you have to do is download all of The Buyer’s Mind episodes on iTunes and subscribe to the podcast and then leave a quick review. It’s not difficult. It’ll only you about 30 seconds. When you’ve done that, go over to jeffshore.com/podcast and click on the contest link. It’ll just ask you for you email address and the name that you used when you wrote the review on iTunes so that we can pick the winners from there. Now, we’re going to give away 10 of the Shore Consulting swag bags, and remember that grand prize, your choice of either the Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise-Canceling Headphones or the QuietComfort 20 Noise Canceling Earbuds. Well, that’s a wrap on today’s episode of The Buyer’s Mind. I hope you enjoyed that. You can find everything you need at jeffshore.com. Until next time, go out there and change someone’s world.