D Murali

Bridging the big gap between the brains

| Updated on: Aug 17, 2011
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The simple message of Pitch Anything: An innovative method for presenting, persuading, and winning the deal by Oren Klaff ( >www.tatamcgrawhill.com ) is that in nine out of ten crucial moments when we have to be convincing, we fail because of a fundamental disconnect between the way we pitch anything and the way it is received by our audience.

If you wonder why our most important messages should end up having such a surprisingly low chance of getting through, the answer begins by describing the three parts of the brain. First came the old brain, or ‘crocodile brain' or the ‘croc brain' and it is responsible for the initial filtering of all incoming messages, generating most survival fight-or-flight responses, and producing strong, basic emotions, elaborates the author. “The midbrain, which came next, determines the meaning of things and social situations. And finally, the neocortex evolved with a problem-solving ability and is able to think about complex issues and produce answers using reason.”

When we pitch something – an idea, product, deal, or whatever – the highest level of our brain, the neocortex, is doing the work, for it is the neocortex which is forming ideas, putting them into language, and presenting them, explains Klaff. The serious problem, however, is that the ideas you present are received by the other person's croc brain. “As you are pitching your idea, the croc brain of the person sitting across from you isn't ‘listening' and thinking, ‘Hmmm, is this a good deal or not?' Its reaction to your pitch basically goes like this: ‘Since this is not an emergency, how can I ignore this or spend the least amount of time possible on it?'”

Five-million-year difference

The gap, as the author highlights, is not measured in the two inches that separate the two brains physically; it must be measured in millions of years – the five million years or so that it took for the neocortex to evolve – he notes. The formula to bridge the gap, as presented in the book, is ‘STRONG': Setting the frame, Telling the story, Revealing the intrigue, Offering the prize, Nailing the hookpoint, and Getting a decision.

‘Frames' are what the author calls the mental structures that shape the way we see the world. Imagine looking at the world through a window frame that you hold in your hands, he urges. “As you move the frame around, the sounds and images you encounter are interpreted by your brain in ways that are consistent with your intelligence, values, and ethics. This is your point of view.”

Whenever two or more people come together to communicate in a business setting, their frames square off and then come into contact, but not in a cooperative or friendly manner, cautions Klaff. Frames are extremely competitive, because they are rooted in our survival instincts, and they seek to sustain dominance, he instructs. “When frames come together, the first thing they do is collide. And this isn't a friendly competition – it's a death match. Frames don't merge. They don't blend. And they don't intermingle. They collide, and the stronger frame absorbs the weaker.”

Before the game even begins

Stating that frame-based business promotes the use of social dynamics, stacking things in your favour before the game even begins, the author observes that sales techniques were created for people who have already lost the frame collision and are struggling to do business from a subordinated or low-status position. “When you fail to control the social frame, you probably have already lost. All you can do then is fight for survival by fast talking, spin selling, trial closing, and a myriad of equally ineffective and annoying tactics that signal to the customer that you are needy and desperate – and defeated.”

The author frets that for more than 40 years, sales trainers have been teaching techniques and methods that help ‘situationally disadvantaged' salespeople get an appointment, establish a temporary relation (called building rapport, which contributes absolutely nothing to your social rank), package a business transaction in a thin and fragile emotional wrapper, and sometimes, if they are either lucky or doggedly persistent, close a sale.

His advice, instead, is to think of ways to use small acts of denial and defiance in the opening moments of meetings. Reasoning that defiance and light humour are the keys to seizing power and frame control, Klaff says, “Keep it fun, do it with a grin on your face, and the moment the power shifts to you, move the meeting forward in the direction you want. This is the foundation of frame control. You'll be seizing more power and status as the pitch continues.”

Well laid-out guidance for the salespeople, or just anyone with a presentation.

> BookPeek.blogspot.com

Published on August 21, 2011

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