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If you use the same message that other sales people are using, you have created something commonplace that the buyer’s brain then creates a pattern for. You immediately sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.


Every holiday season, one of the major networks broadcasts a Peanuts special. You know, the group of characters created by Charles Schulz and led by the kind, gentle-hearted Charlie Brown.

In a few of these specials, the “Peanuts” gang is sitting in their classroom and we hear the teacher talking. Well, we don’t really “hear” the teacher.

Instead, we hear a muffled noise (“wah wah wah…”). In fact, we can’t make out any of the words of the monotonous tone of the teacher as it drags on and on.

Unfortunately, this scene realistically plays out every day in trenches of sales conversations.

As a sales professional, you sound exactly like Charlie Brown’s teacher to your prospects and customers if there is no differentiation with your message.

Armies of frustrated salespeople are often left wondering why they cannot get meetings – not realizing that their messages are psychologically being blocked by the buyer’s internal mind patterns.

A Changing World

We live in a world of constant change and disruption.

Communication and interactions occur at many levels, from mobile to social to in-person and everywhere in between.

Hoards of data are thrown into the universe each day, compounding our efforts to synthesize this data.

Our brains have to figure out ways to keep us sane in the midst of this chaos, and one way is to create patterns or shortcuts.

In the simplest of explanations, when our brain recognizes something that is commonplace, it creates a shortcut so that we don’t have to use any mental resources. The brain is saving our “human computing power” essentially.

An example could be as simple as your drive home from work.  Because it’s something that occurs every day, your route home becomes a pattern that is programmed into your brain.

When you leave the office, your body goes on “auto-pilot” and before you know it, you’re home. In fact, sometimes you wonder “how did I get home?”.

Now, let’s translate this into the world of sales.

If you use the same message that other sales people are using, you have created something commonplace that the buyer’s brain then creates a pattern for.

The buyer’s attention spans are shrinking daily so as soon as their brain recognizes this pattern, they shut you out.

You immediately sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

In a split second, the buyer’s brain flips into recognizing a pattern and every second afterwards it becomes that much harder for the sales professional to get through.

There is hope for the sales pro.  Ultra-high performers spice up the language and “prep” the buyer with words that will psychologically bend “connection probability” in their favor.

Backed by Science

Malcolm Gladwell references the psychologist John Bargh in the book Blink. Dr. Bargh famously conducted a priming experiment where he asked the participants in a study to unscramble five-word sets into coherent sentences.

On the surface the test seemed undisguised, except it wasn’t. The words were scattered with references to elderliness (“Florida”, “Bingo”, etc).

When the participants walked out of the laboratory, they walked slower compared to those in the study who read words without references to the elderly.

What happened was that the test was making the participants’ adaptive unconscious (the same unconscious that creates patterns) think about “old”, so much so that people started to act this way.

The words in your messages need to influence the centers of the brain that create the patterns and make you unconsciously act.

By doing so, you essentially “prime” the buyer to be more receptive to you on an unconscious level – using unique words or phrases to capture their attention.

The words must align to emotional value, tangible value, insight, or curiosity.

Constructing your messages around these values will give you much greater success when trying to connect with people.

Your Message Matters.

About the author

Keith Lubner

Keith Lubner

Keith Lubner is Chief Strategy Officer at Sales Gravy and acts as an advisor,…

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