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by Cathy Vandewater | August 07, 2012


Christophe Morin, a researcher for the "world's first neuromarketing" agency has a job title that could also serve as a professional wrestling pseudonym: Chief Pain Officer.

Except that his work at SalesBrain isn't about causing pain, it's about finding it—to sell the cure.

In an interview with the New York Times, Morin references "the reptilian brain"--the place where baser emotions rule—and his techniques for appealing to those primal instincts during a sales pitch.

Those instincts (while generally disinterested in your long-winded, confusing proposal meeting) are very keen to relieve discomforts and frustrations, even above fulfilling wants or needs.

Thus, instead of trying to sell the shiny or new, it's much more effective to focus on relieving a burden. And once you've done that, urges Morin, stop talking.

This is excellent advice for a job seeker, who is of course his own product. It's tempting to tout a list of achievements or past successes, but resist the urge.

Unless you can draw a strong, clear connection between your talents and the company's pain points, you'll likely get a scared, reptilian "No."

So how to get a yes? A few "neuromarketing" tips from Morin:

1." Don’t use the word “we” or start off your pitch with a corporate overview that lasts 10 minutes."

Long windedness dilutes your message, and you don't want to stray far from your most effective subject: the company and its problems. As Morin notes, "Our brains are extremely self-centered, and we care most about our own survival."

Yet another reason never to bother telling an employer why you need or deserve the job in your cover letter—as interesting as it is to you, your survival is not their concern!

2. Don't say "I was a leading" Anything

Fancy jargon, technical anecdotes, lists of awards and skills—they're all just distractions. Instead, Morin says you must focus on one getting one message across: ‘This is your life with our product or service, this is your life without.’

You being the product, tell an interviewer the story of how you rescued another employee with your quick problem solving, or put a bullet point on your resume about finding that huge money drain.

Painting a picture of yourself as walking corporate Advil is much more effective than droning on about your "self motivation."

3. Start Strong, Finish Strong

The brain "recaps and stores" after a few moments of attention. It checks in if something seems interesting, then out to rest, then back in again--usually in time for your wrap up if you've given cues that it's coming.

Thus, with cover letters and interviews alike, it's important to grab attention quickly and finish on a high note, with as little fluff in between as possible.

And keep your mission clear and on topic throughout a letter or meeting. While interviewing, for example, use not just words but body language to make your point and keep the "reptilian brain" engaged.

 As Morin says, “Facial expressions help us decode what people’s intentions are," and will appeal to the "low" brain on a subconscious level. If you're smiling confidently while discussing solutions, or looking thoughtful and serious while talking pain points, you'll be much more persuasive than with words alone.

--Cathy Vandewater,

Read More:
The Secret of Neuromarketing: Go for the Pain (NY Times)
Have You Googled Yourself Today?
How to Become a Cover Letter Writing Machine (Part Two)


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