Your prospects are first and foremost human beings. While that may seem obvious, many organizations still sell like the prospects are computers. They ignore the fundamental truth that people (humans) do not make their decisions solely based on an analysis of data. That’s because we’re people, not computers.

Neuroscientist and author Joseph Ledoux studies what he calls “survival circuits”. Those behaviors displayed by humans that are driven by thousands of years of reacting to danger signals. What’s really interesting and very useful to know in sales, is the separation between behaviors and their associated emotions.

Speaking on the Joe Rogan podcast, Ledoux clarified using the example of a snake. He explained that when we almost step on a snake, the reaction of quickly moving our foot away happens before and separately from the emotion of fear of a near bite. We don’t actually feel fear in the moment. We react instinctively, and then fear sets in because we can visualize “what might have happened”. Only humans can think in that specific way, emotionalizing a potential fear.

Ledoux further states that much of human behavior is not “an ambassador of the mind” as much as it is a tool for survival. Patterns form and emotions like fear get anchored to those patterns. Primitive man learned to fear strange sounds coming from the bushes. For good reason. The bushes were often hiding something that could kill them. Noise in the bushes was a danger signal.

People today, including your sales prospects, are still operating with thousands of years of survival mechanisms. By the time the conscious mind is making an analysis, the survival tools have already been in play for a while.

Very few things are a bigger danger signal for most people than change. By definition, as a sales professional, you are approaching your prospects and attempting to get them to change the status quo. You want them to buy something different, or buy something in a different way. You want them to change, and change is scary. That fear of change and the unknown has been a human danger signal since the very first sounds coming out of the very first bushes.

OK, here’s what that means to you in the world of sales. Your prospect’s initial reaction to being called on are powered by survival instincts, and not so much by the conscious mind. Until you address those fears, they are reacting more instinctively than rationally to your pitch and/or presentation.

Stop trying to work with the “ambassador of the mind” until you’ve put the survival mechanism at ease. The way you do that is with a solid, psychological based and sound sales process that addresses those fears right from the moment the prospect picks up the phone.

This is why winging it doesn’t work. A sales process helps you address these primal survival defense mechanisms and get past them to engage the conscious mind of the prospect.