Why Our Brains Buy and How to Convert Prospective Customers Into Loyal Advocates – Part II

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Written By Christine Comaford

New York Times bestselling author and Leadership and Culture Coach Christine Comaford has been helping leaders navigate growth and change.

In my previous blog I laid out the first 2 of 4 steps in the process to pre-condition buyers by giving them a potent experience of being the same as them and thus safe. Today we’ll add steps 3 and 4.

3. Speak their language.

In the 1970’s Leslie Cameron-Bandler discovered 60 meta programs–or lenses–through which humans experience the world. The advertising industry has been using meta programs ever since—to sell us products we both do and don’t actually want or need, as well as to compel us to purchase faster and in greater quantities. It’s time to bring meta programs out of the psych labs. Here’s how they work, and the top 4 that you must know now:

Meta Programs enable us to deeply step into the prospect’s world. They allow us to access a part of the subconscious mind that is often unavailable in general social transactions—and often get staggering results in short order. When we train sales teams on Meta Programs in selling scenarios, they close sales up to 50% faster. When we work with marketing teams, their messages resonate with prospects more deeply and faster—up to 301% more effective. Also, demand generation increases by up to 237%. Why? Speaking in a prospect’s meta programs enables us to rapidly build trust and profoundly increase the experience of “same as”—since we are truly speaking their language.


Toward Away
Description/motivations Motivated to achieve goals; to move forward; get what they want. Motivated to solve problems and avoid risk taking/pain.
Influential words “Get,” “attain,” “achieve,” and synonyms of these. “Avoid,” “prevent,” “assess,” “consider,” and synonyms of these.
Often found in CEO, sales, business development, software development, design. Accounting, operations, risk management, non-litigation legal roles.


Decoder Question: Ask, “What do you want in your work [or something else important to them]?” Keep asking questions like “What else is important?” Notice what descriptor words they use.



Options Procedures
Description Motivated by choice, possibility, variety; will give you a list of criteria they want. Motivated by following a proven and reliable process; will lay out a step-by-step process or need one provided for them.
Influential words “Variety,” “choice,” “possibility,” and synonyms of these. “The right way,” “series of steps,” “reliable process,” and synonyms of these.
Often found in All roles, though they often gravitate toward anything with “design,” “development,” or similar words in the title that indicate there is room to operate differently. Options people love to create processes for other people to follow. All roles, though they often gravitate toward accounting, manufacturing, legal, engineering, and other process-driven fields.


Decoder Question: Ask, “Why did you choose your current work/job/car?” An Options person will respond with his criteria or features (for a car: “It gets great gas mileage, it’s black, and it’s fast.”) A Procedures person will respond with a story following a process with the car at the end ( “Well, it’s a funny thing. My old car was breaking down all the time and my aunt Sue was visiting and . . .”).



General Specific
Description/motivations Motivated to summarize and think at a high level. Looking at the forest. Motivated by details and sequences. Knows how many trees the forest contains, how many leaves each tree has, and the variation of their bark.
Influential words “Overview,” “the big picture,” “in general,” “the point is,” and synonyms of these. Start with setting frame or context. “Specifically,” “exactly,” “precisely,” and synonyms of these. Start at detail level and build to conclusion.
Often found in CEO and all leadership roles, market / strategy development roles. Engineering, legal, accounting, operations, market research roles.


Decoding: Ask questions like “How do you solve problems?”; “How was your weekend” Notice which influential words they use, and if they start with specific details or with an overall summary statement.



Active Reflective
Description/motivations Motivated to take action immediately, charge ahead. Motivated to analyze, wait, and react when appropriate.
Influential words “Get it done,” “now,” “don’t wait,” and synonyms of these. “Consider,” “could,” “understand,” “think about,” and synonyms of these.
Often found in Sales and other customer facing/initiating roles. Research, analysis, customer service, service.


Decoding: Ask questions such as “How do you solve problems at work?”; “How do you discover opportunities or challenges?”; “How do you learn new things?” Listen for sentence structure as well as their use of influential words.

What are the meta programs of your prospect? See my book SmartTribes for a detailed explanation of how to use these powerful tools.


4. Craft the customer experience.

Our buying decisions are crafted by emotional experience and habit.  Prospects make decisions about both the quality of their interactions and buying decisions by associating positive themes with the brand experience. When we first have an experience with a brand we create a memory. If we have additional experiences with the brand, new memories are added and the experience is reshaped or reinforced–whether positive or negative. Emotional and instinctual marketing messages reinforce the brand experience more powerfully than logical messages.

So our job is to consistently reinforce positive brand attitudes. We can train the brain of the prospect by providing repetitive, positive cues about it… the quality of its online community, the ease of use of its products, the “thank you” at the end of customer support call–they all add up. Every experience with a brand, large or small needs to reinforce the positive mental constructs the individual has with the brand.

When we implement the above process with our clients—and it requires patience to nail it–the results are remarkable. Let me know how they work for you.


Christine Comaford (@comaford) is a neuroscience-based leadership and culture coach. She uses the latest techniques to coach leaders in creating predictable revenue, passionate teams and profitable growth. Her current New York Times Bestseller is SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together.

Join Christine’s tribe for private resources, strategies, and invites to webinars.


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