Neural Impact is a boutique consultancy based in British Columbia, Canada. It works only within the Microsoft partner ecosystem. Its expertise is in three areas. The first is the Microsoft community itself. The second is broadly customer acquisition. The third is the company’s unique selling point, neuroscience and persuasion science. Neural Impact therefore brings neuroscience and the science of persuasion into how to sell and acquire customers, showing organisations within the Microsoft ecosystem how to generate and harness emotional engagement.
This is obviously an important topic for thought leaders, especially in the tech space. We know that technology is only one arm of digital transformation, and that people are at least as important. What, therefore, can we as thought leaders learn from Neural Impact’s work?
The world of tech is not logical, because it is full of people—and people are messy and emotional
The technology world tends to be thought of as logical. However, we now increasingly recognise that buying decisions, including in technology, are not logical. Instead, they are often driven more by emotion. This is partly because buying decisions are now far less often made by IT leads. Instead, they are made by business users, who have a completely different ‘take’ on the process. Tech companies and thought leaders who understand this, and can harness it, are much more likely to be successful.
Buying decisions tend to be driven by a problem or challenge
Generally speaking, business buyers do not go looking for new technology when everything is going well. They tend to be driven to a purchase by a problem or challenge that they cannot address using their current resources. As Joanne Charley, Chief Marketing Officer at Neural Impact commented in an interview, this means that they are driven by emotions such as fear, or need for control. These are not positive emotions, and these buyers need to see that potential vendors recognise that and are able to help.
A huge part of the buying decision process is largely unconscious
Mark Stuyt, Neural Impact’s Chief Engagement Officer, points out that a huge part of the process of making a buying decision is unconscious. As we talk to others, or read content online, our brains are processing an enormous amount of information that is not directly related to the topic. This information includes how the other person looks, sounds and behaves, the look of the website we are viewing, and even whether we are on the phone or speaking via video. This is one reason why sales teams have traditionally favoured face-to-face meetings, because you can engage better with people when you involve more senses.
It is essential to tailor marketing messages to the audience
In tech marketing, messages can often become too general. There are three main types of buyers (the business user, the IT adviser, and the senior manager who holds the budget), and they all have different needs. Crucially, businesses need to engage first with the business user—and on an emotional level, recognising their pain points. These pain points are likely to be specific to the sector or industry.
Buyers need to build a connection with a product or service
We have commented before that emotional intelligence is crucial in marketing—and perhaps the most crucial part of emotional intelligence is empathy. It is worth repeating that buyers with negative emotions like fear and safety concerns need to be met with empathy. They need to see that you understand their problems on an emotional level, not just a logical one. In other words, what you say needs to resonate with them. This builds a much stronger connection. That, in turn, forms the foundation for a relationship, and we know that relationships are crucial in buying decisions.
The concept of ‘tribal resonance’ is particularly important in buying decisions
In modern parlance, a ‘tribe’ is a group with which we identify. It can be colleagues or co-workers, peers from other companies, or even thought leaders whom we respect. Tribal development is a complex process, but broadly speaking, we build these tribes through shared interests and emotional connections. They are, effectively, networks of relationships. Importantly, we respect the views of our tribe members more than the views of people who we do not know. This matters in two ways. First, because if we can build tribal connections, we will be more influential. Second, because by influencing one tribe member, we can reach others.