101 billion is the estimated number of H. sapiens that has ever lived and each one was absolutely genetically unique. (Well almost, if you discount multiples like twins and trips.) And yet we all respond stereotypically to the same stimuli. Danger or anxiety releases stress hormones like cortisol. Lust or desire releases feel-good hormones like endorphins. Sadness causes an elevation in prolactin. And if I list anymore, a real scientist will know I’m faking it.
The reason for this is simple. These responses are constant throughout the animal kingdom. No matter the layers of complexities we humans toss on events, all events can be reduced down to:
1. Is this going to kill me? (Halts genetic propagation.)
2. Will this lead to me having sex or my offspring living long enough to have sex? (Genetic propagation)
When I’m pitching to you, I’m less interested in what I am saying and more interested in your physiological responses. I am watching your pupils. I am watching your posture. I am looking for feedback. The good thing about this is it makes me look like I am giving you rapt attention. And I am because I’m trying to tease out clues as to how to respond and proceed. But really, I’m trying to decipher if I am making you raise or lower your guard. That’s it.
I’m not special. All good sales people, debaters, politicians and poker players do this. That’s why Johnny Chan wears sunglasses at the poker table.
No matter how cool you think you play it, I know if I’m stressing you out by watching the response in your pupils; whether they dilate or constrict. I know if I’m stressing you out by watching if you make a conscious effort to look relaxed. I know if I’m stressing you out by your conscious effort to force rapport. I know you’re likely bullshitting me if I see you maintaining longer than natural eye-contact to compensate. I can tell you these things and you’d still not be able to conceal it because these physiological responses kept each one of your ancestors alive long enough to breed and those responses that worked got passed on and those that didn’t died with the fish. There are only so many responses, especially during a conversation. Every time I say something to you, I know you are referencing the files in your brain to make sense of what I am saying. My job is to make you reference the memory files that are most beneficial to me and my goal.
This is why bush-league sales people who ‘feature/benefit’ a customer to death will fail. They don’t know what raises the other person’s guard or reduces it. They vomit out 400 words a minute and don’t listen and watch. They speak with their own goals in mind and not give a damn about the listener’s. All they see is the buyer’s wallet and not see the buyer as a feeling, evaluating and risk-mitigating person (in that exact order). The brain can only focus on a few things at a time. Anything that doesn’t address the following over-riding value before you dive into the nuts and bolts of your pitch will fail and fail hard as your sales sizes get larger.
Physical danger is now replaced by financial danger and the danger of looking like a fool. Will adopting your idea hurt me financially? These are resources I could deploy elsewhere to gain more resources. Will adopting your idea make me look like an idiot; reducing my ability to gain influence and therefore reducing my ability to acquire more resources?
The larger the sale, the more this becomes relevant. The larger the sale, the more you need the face-to-face interaction. The larger the sale, the more you need to talk less and watch more.
When I am talking to you, I see you exactly as I am. A product of millions of years of evolution. Same physiological needs, same base hormonal responses. A guy with a $300 Canali tie has simply learned to obscure those responses better.
So why do I bother telling you all this?
Because like I’ve always said, it takes so little extra to be extraordinary. So little effort to develop these skills. And yet, so few people will bother.
Those who do, never have to look for opportunities.
Opportunities literally land on their laps.