How Your Buyers Brain Has Changed Post Pandemic

Felix Cao is a neuromarketing expert with 15 years of experience marketing in the tech space, where he brings the “Know-How” that businesses can use to get more customers, increase repeat business & boost their popularity.

In this episode of the Sales Leadership Show, Felix explains how the buying brain has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic started and how to better serve the new way that buyers want to make B2B purchases.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Felix Cao
Neuro-marketing Expert

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

This episode of the show is brought to you from the Salesman.org HubSpot Studio. Coming up on today’s episode of the sales leadership show.

 

Felix Cao:

A lot of companies, or people in general, were not used to it because there was no physical separation between work-life and home life. Now, you kind of have the two overlapping with each other. When doing B2B business, everything now becomes digitised. For the businesses that were very reliant on more face-to-face type of interactions, going to trade shows and conferences … So, how could we motivate someone so that their brains on a neurochemical level or neuroscience level releases dopamine more?

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation. My name is Will Barron, and I’m the host of the Sales Leadership Show. On today’s episode, we have the return of Felix Cao. You can find him over at happybuyingbrain.com, and buying brains is exactly what we’re talking about on today’s episode. How the buying brain has changed because of COVID-19, and how it’s probably going to change again moving forward into what we’re all calling “the new normal.” Everything that we talk about is available in the show notes over at salesleadership.org. And so with that said, let’s jump right into it.

 

Will Barron:

Felix, welcome to the Sales Leadership Show.

 

Felix Cao:

Hi, Will. How are you doing? And thank you so much for having me back on your podcast. It’s definitely a pleasure, for sure.

 

How Has The Pandemic Affected The Buyer’s Brain Over The Past 12, 18 Months? · [01:39] 

 

Will Barron:

You’re more than welcome. It’s a pleasure for me to have you back on. Okay. We’re going to talk about the buyer’s brain in this episode. We’re going to talk about whether things have changed, whether things are permanent, and a whole bunch of things. But I want to ask you as open-ended question as I possibly can to get us started. It’s a conversation as opposed to me going to subtly nudging you one way or the other, because I genuinely want get your thoughts on this. Let me ask you this, Felix. How has the buyer’s brain changed over the past 12, 18 months with COVID? And hopefully we’re on the backside of this now. How has it changed? And I guess you can add a layer on top of that of: has it changed in a way that you expected?

 

“The way it’s changed for sure is there’s a lot of uncertainty. There’s a lot of fear. When you combine that with the uncertainty, it certainly leads to anxiety during the buying process.” – Felix Cao · [01:57] 

 

Felix Cao:

That’s a great, very quick question. I think there’s a lot of … The way it’s changed for sure is there’s a lot of uncertainty. There’s a lot of fear. When you combine that with the uncertainty, it certainly leads to anxiety during the buying process. Also, on both sides. So, you have the salesperson and also the person that they’re doing business with on the other side as well. Especially with all the media and everything that’s happening.

 

“A lot of people in the business world are kind of in that space where the primal brain is in this heightened state of activity. We’re starting to figure out what to do with all this turbulence and kind of chaos that’s really happening.” – Felix Cao · [02:54] 

 

Felix Cao:

When you combine that level of anxiety kind of with watching all the chaos that’s happening around, what that leads to is panic as well. When that happens, actually, the cortex which is responsible for your logical or more rational thinking part of the brain, it actually goes offline. Right? In that case, we resort back to … we talked about this on one your earlier podcasts, the primal brain. That’s more responsible for your fight-or-flight response. A lot of people in the business world are kind of in that space where the primal brain is in this heightened state of activity. We’re starting to figure out what to do with all this turbulence and kind of chaos that’s really happening.

 

Felix Cao:

And a lot of that has kind of shifted the attention to more of a protective survival mode. So, really in terms of the sales process, how that works, it’s really affected people on multiple levels. First of all, it’s more on an individual level, especially with the whole remote working. That’s a model that a lot of companies or people in general were not used to, because there was no physical separation between work-life and home life. Now, you kind of have the two overlapping with each other, and there are certain challenges that come out of that on an individual level.

 

Felix Cao:

Now, it’s something that not only do you have to … you have certain tasks not to do in your work, but you have to now balance that out with the things that you have to actually do at home. That’s one thing in terms of the B2B sales, a lot of people in business are actually looking to handle. And, of course, one of the things that come out of that is procrastination, for example. Is this finding effective ways to deal with: how do you actually motivate yourself to have some sort of structured schedule to continue doing your work? And then on a level on top of that is if it’s in a company, how do you maintain the company culture and keep it intact when you have workers now that are working from home?

 

Felix Cao:

That was a challenge to keep the morale up, especially during this time is a challenge. And then when doing B2B business, everything now becomes digitised. For the businesses that were very reliant on more face-to-face type of interactions, going to trade shows and conferences … now, their role has turned upside down pretty much. It was more a matter of: how do you find the people online? And then from there on, the whole interaction process looked different than what it did offline. It was more of an adapting period on that end. It was kind of like this host of different areas of business that kind of got affected at one time. And a lot of that, of course, rooted into what had happened over the last 12 months or so. Is this finding effective ways to make those adjustments during the way?

 

Will Barron:

As you say that, Felix … I know this, but I’ve never really pondered on it. And as you talk about these different layers of both buyers have been affected, sellers have been affected, the company culture has been affected, communication within the organisation has been affected. Well, at the leadership level, we talk about it all the time. We talk very flippantly about an organisation isn’t buying, an industry has changed, this and this.

 

How The Pandemic Has Made it Harder For B2B Salespeople to Close More Deals · [05:50] 

 

Will Barron:

But it’s all made up of individual people, right? If an organisation isn’t buying, it’s because that group … this symbiotic just consciousness of individuals, it’s because they’re all slightly panicked and that leads to the end result. Is there any ways we can think about B2B sales from that perspective of: maybe we don’t just need to change one person’s mind. We don’t need to get one person out of a panic mode. Do we need to think bigger picture here of if we’re selling to a larger organisation, there’s just tonnes of stakeholders that are affecting this, whether we realise it or not?

 

“Especially during the last 12 months, it’s more of a relationship of empathy, understanding where they’re coming from. I think that’s the main thing that we see in the world of businesses. Empathy selling.” – Felix Cao · [06:21] 

 

Felix Cao:

Right. I think the main thing is the whole leadership factor. The way, as you mentioned, it’s the culture and the collective factor of all these minds coming together. And really, is this kind of when the interaction part looks? Especially during the last 12 months. It’s more of a relationship of empathy, understanding where they’re coming from. I think that’s the main thing that we see in the world of businesses. Empathy. [inaudible 00:06:33].

 

Felix Cao:

There’s a lot more of that certainly happening. Understanding that they’re dealing with challenges that nobody has ever dealt before as we go through this. Kind of like this crazy adjustable time, transitional time in our history. In terms of being an effect of that time is just being able to show that leadership, to guide the person that you’re looking to do business with in terms of helping them go through the process of the sales. And also, one other major thing is being able to be patient. I think that’s the number one thing.

 

“Right now, especially with our primal brains being in that state of uncertainty and anxiety, one of its core features is to want things in the now. Because it wants things in the now, then that influences the behaviour of a lot of people in business and sales to want to really hurry and push the sales process fast, or a lot faster than the buyer is comfortable with moving at the particular moment.” – Felix Cao · [07:07] 

 

Felix Cao:

Because right now, especially with our primal brains being in that state of uncertainty and anxiety, one of its core features is to want things in the now. Right? Because it wants things in the now, then that influences the behaviour of a lot of people in business and sales to want to really hurry and push the sales process fast, or a lot faster than the buyer’s comfortable with moving at the particular moment. Especially when understanding their state, they’re also in a state to look to maximise their resources as well during the certain time. It’s understanding or having a clear kind of in-depth look into: how is the buyer thinking about the situation? What are they currently going through? What are some of the challenges that were not on the table … had we talked prior to COVID, is now things that they’re dealing with as an organisation, and sometimes even as an individual?

 

“And one of the things I personally found is now the interactions are a lot more personable as well, whereas before it’d be a short period of small talk. Get to know each other, and then dive into the business. But now because of the isolation and the loneliness, people are looking for any form of pretty much human interaction.”  – Felix Cao · [08:12] 

 

Felix Cao:

And one of the things I personally found is now the interactions are a lot more personable as well, whereas before it’d be a short period of small talk. Get to know each other, and then dive into the business. But now because of the isolation and the loneliness, people are looking for any form of pretty much human interaction, if you want to call it. Because that seems to be something that’s very lacking in today’s society. So, just the fact that they have the opportunity, or we have the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation. There seems to be a lot more time spent in getting to know the person on an individual level, and eventually that’s morphed itself into the business side of things. The relationship-building is certainly something that has changed during the last 12 months. That’s what, from my personal experience, I found. And also, talking to other people in business as well.

 

Pandemic Stress and How It’s Impacting B2B Sales · [09:10]

 

Will Barron:

Sure. That makes total sense. And when you talk about the buyer, and even the seller, and myself, and yourself, everyone being in this … even if it’s to a small scale, this panic state. Are you talking very literally here of we’re in … I get this confused, but your sympathetic versus parasympathetic nervous systems. Are we talking very literal of people going into the office being in fight-and-flight? And hopefully they come over in the office, and they’ve got their family around, and they can relax, and they can turn that off. Or are we talking more from a perspective of a mindset of, “I don’t want to screw up right now because I might lose the company money. It might make me look bad. And it’s a bad job market.” Are we talking the physical that these people feel panicked at a deep level? Or is this almost a thought process and a mindset that these individuals are in?

 

Felix Cao:

That’s a good question, Will. It’s a matter of both. When the primal brain becomes activated … so, you’re in the fight-or-flight, or a person’s in a fight-or-flight. Physiologically, their body is actually responding to that. They’re releasing stress hormones. They’re releasing adrenaline, for example. And there’s a region of the brain that actually become highly activated when fear kicks in. That the part of the brain is called the amygdala for people here are interested in kind of brain biology.

 

Felix Cao:

On a physiological level, certainly there’s a state where physically somebody feels or their body changes where they’re actually adapting or preparing to handle that new change, or that threat, or perceive a situation where they may feel more endangered. And that ties in with the psychological part where now the mindset is … I have these certain targets, for example, to hit. And then the mental stresses that come with the uncertainty is: are these goals are going to be met?

 

Felix Cao:

You kind of have these two connections, and the brain is actually on a neuroscience level actually connected on that level. So, you have the interaction between the primal brain, which deals with the emotional side of being human. And also the logical side, which as you mentioned, is more of the mental side and psychological side. There’s neural connections that go both ways during those interactions when the primal brain is interacting with the logical brain. It’s almost inseparable that when somebody feels some sort of either psychological or physiological stress that it’s going to penetrate, and affect different areas of their wellbeing as well.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. I know this for myself personally when all this kicked off. Regular listeners will know my partner is an NHS doctor, and so she was right in the thick of it all. She’d come home from work, and be saying this is happening. This is happening. She’d be giving me the rundown, and then we were looking at the news. And the news is a slightly different tale to what’s actually happening in reality. And I’ve talked about this before, but I just shut down for a week. For a week, I was just like, “Right, I’ve got enough cash in the bank to last a couple of years now. The business is going to be fine. I don’t know what to do.” And this is ridiculous in hindsight. But it was only looking at the books, looking at the accounts at the end of that month that I was like, “Oh, we’ll actually do more revenue over the past seven days, 14 days than what we usually do.”

 

Felix Cao:

That’s excellent.

 

Will Barron:

It was just randomly. We set up online training during the pandemic. We were just at the right place at the right time. Where I’m going with this is: I didn’t look at the evidence. I made an assumption, acted on the assumption, did nothing. Lost a last a week of my life. Just slobbing around feeling sorry for myself when the evidence in front of me was very clear that we were doing great, and we were going to continue to do great up until this moment in time as we reached ahead of the game with a lot of the training that we’re offering online, right?

 

Felix Cao:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

How to Convince Anxious and Pessimistic Buyers That a Particular Deal is a Good Deal For Everyone Involved · [12:55] 

 

Will Barron:

So, how do we … Say, we’re sat in a room with a potential buyer, and we know that they’re feeling fearful. With all of the evidence in front of us, Felix. Say we’re a sales leader, we’ve come in on this deal, and we’re coaching the sales person. We’re engaging with the executives on the other side of the room as well. All of the evidence points to the fact that this deal is a good deal for everyone involved, but the buyer’s being particularly pessimistic. They’re in this state of panic, fear, or anxiety. Is there anything we could do to talk them out of it, or convince them that what they’re experiencing right now is not in an effective way to move forward?

 

Felix Cao:

That’s a great question. I think the number one thing, as you mentioned … at certain times the emotions take take over, you mentioned. But then the data actually proves otherwise. In your situation, for example, for that one week, even though at that time there might’ve been a mixture of different feelings in terms of what to do moving forward. However, when you look at all your information in front of you, the data was actually showing that things were going a lot better than what’s going on in the mind. I think that’s the main thing is to recognise what’s really going on in terms of what the person is thinking and feeling.

 

Felix Cao:

On a logical level, perhaps they figure it out that, “Oh, the information looks like we’re moving the company in the right direction.” But the parts we’ll deal with is, once again, that primal brain. Because the primal brain, that’s where the subconscious mind lives, and influences up to 95% of our decision-making. That’s part of the reason why a lot of people during this transition period, especially at the very big beginning, felt very stagnant in terms of what actions they should be pursuing. And that led to a lot of procrastination. I think it’s just a matter of understanding what’s causing that type of uncertainty in their business. And the biggest thing is knowing: what’s going to motivate them, really, to take the next point of action.

 

Felix Cao:

Of course, motivation is tied to a brain chemical in our minds, or in our brains, called dopamine. What can we do to create a situation where it allows the buying brain, for example, to kind of release the motivation or reward? It goes by many names, but it’s pretty much involved in motivation, anticipation, novelty, curiosity. How can we motivate someone, so that their brains on a neurochemical level or neuroscience level releases dopamine more? And right now, there’s a misalignment in the buyer’s brain between short-term goals versus long-term goals.

 

Felix Cao:

Right now, they understand that, okay, logically … Their logical brain sees the data, understands that this is potentially good for them, or is good for them. But then you have the primal brain, which wants things now and maybe cannot … it doesn’t come to the conclusion that doing this deal will benefit them at this particular moment. So, there’s this constant struggle between the logical brain and the rational side of the brain that plans everything. And the primal brain, which wants things on a now kind of impulsive moment-to-moment level. The key here would be: how do you align the values of the leader or the company in terms of both … to get the pretty much the primal brain and the logical brain on the same page.

 

Felix Cao:

And one way to do that, of course, is to take some of a bigger goal and to break it down to smaller goals. Now, it satisfies the primal brain because it gets things … it’s satisfying the good feeling in the now, and then it also satisfies the logical brain, which is more of a long-term gain that the company will gain in the the long-term, or the distant future, if you want to call it. There’s different ways to do that. More of the long-term is more future-facing. That’s kind of tying the products and services with the desired outcome of owning the product and services that you provide. And then the short-term gains are, of course, all the stepping stones that will allow the company to achieve that long-term goal. Really, that’s what we found is to be very effective in that sense of combating or actually alleviating a lot of those initial fears and emotions that are in conflict with the kind of logical brain wishes. The more data-driven side of things.

 

Should Salespeople Reinforce Trust With Data and Statistics, or Just Ask The Buyer What They’re Anxious About? · [17:43] 

 

Will Barron:

Does trust a human-to-human level, as opposed to, “I trust the brand that I’m working for …” Does that become more or less important in these kinds of sales, where perhaps the buyer is feeling anxious, is feeling risk averse? And what I mean by that is: should we focus on building … If we out to do one or the other. The answer is both. Is the answer to focus on the relationships that we have of the individuals in the account, call them up, just ask them how it’s going, see if we can help them in general? Or the alternative of that, perhaps: should we really double down on data, statistics? Things that we know. Evidence that we know proves that the value that we can bring to them?

 

“Let’s say the salesperson is really just truly focused on the data. Then that would be only speaking to the logical part of the brain, which only influences 5% of the decision-making process. In that situation, the primal brain of the buyer is the true decision maker. That’s the part of the brain that needs to be focused on. And if that part of the brain is ignored, then it doesn’t matter how much data, and statistical facts, or figures that we want to go over and try to convince them a logical level, it’s more likely than not going to be met with failure.” – Felix Cao · [18:32] 

 

Felix Cao:

I think this going back for your last example. In that interaction, let’s say the salesperson really just truly focused on the data. Then that would be only speaking to the logical part of the brain, which only influences 5% of the decision-making process. In that situation, the primal brain of the buyer is the true decision maker. That’s the part of the brain that needs to be focused on. And if that part of the brain is ignored, then it doesn’t matter how much data, and statistical facts, or figures that we want to go over and try to convince them a logical level. It’s a more likely than not going to be met with failure, unless the person is … because there’s obviously different types of people.

 

“Nobody ends up waking up and goes, “Well, I don’t think about doing it.” It’s, “I don’t feel like doing it.” And that’s why there’s a certain ring to it and it’s a much more common saying because it’s that primal brain with the emotion that really dictates the person, or will heavily influence their behaviors and their actions.” – Felix Cao · [19:28] 

 

Felix Cao:

Some people are really, let’s say, if you’re dealing with someone’s dealing with a CFO, then they all deal with numbers, for example. That would be a person where the approach would have to be adjusted where it caters more to their way of thinking and doing business. For a lot of people, it’s usually guided by their emotions. That’s the one thing that if it’s … because nobody ends up waking up and goes, “Well, I don’t think about doing it. I don’t feel like doing it.” Right? And that’s why there’s a certain ring to it. It’s a much more common saying is because is that primal brain with the emotion that really dictates what the person, or will heavily influence their behaviours and their actions.

 

Felix Cao:

When a sales person is actually dealing with or an in a conversation with a buyer, for example, then certainly that relationship … and also, ways of finding common interests and even sharing stories is a way to connect with a person on that subconscious level or primal level. Which is so important, because that will really galvanise the relationship. And then from there on, that’s when they’re going to be more receptive to your data, and facts, and everything else that the person wants to speak about.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. You took the words out of my mouth there, Felix. Because something I’ve experienced this year, and this is an N equals one experiment, so it’s somewhat worthless other than an anecdote on the podcast … is that I have a lot more people coming to me. When people sign up to our training product, there’s a kind of a form that they fill in after the fact of why they chose us and all this kind of thing. And a lot of the data shows that people had a feeling that we would be able to improve their careers and improve their sales success. Less so than what it used to be seemingly of … and again, we need a hundred thousand people to sign up to really double down on this data.

 

How Salespeople Can Engineer Actual Levels of Trust That Spark The Primal Brain and Initiate Buying conversations? · [21:25] 

 

Will Barron:

But from a surface level, a lot of people previous was like, “I enjoyed this webinar, and you said you would do this and this. And this was the outcome that I was expecting.” There’s a lot more, “I like you as a person. I like that kind of training that you do. I like your style.” A lot more positives coming from an emotional standpoint, as opposed to more logical things. The question I’m asking you, Felix, is to reverse engineer what we’ve done here. Because inadvertently, we’ve done something that works, but I’m not sure how we’ve done it. How do you think that … without knowing the business too well for the audience to be clear. How do you think that we’ve engineered, or how might you engineer this actual level of trust, of rapport, that seemingly does initiate the primal brain and does initiate these buying conversations?

 

Felix Cao:

Yeah. I think the main thing is right now … and we touched on this earlier as well, is that due to the whole situation over the last 12 months, the crisis … everybody’s in this kind of state where they’re feeling much more isolated and lonely as prior to the whole COVID situation. Just being able to foster that relationship, and just to talk to people. I think that’s the biggest thing that people are looking for in terms of building trust. And also, touching on subjects that would normally not be discussed about, especially on a first meeting since people are not open to having a more deeper conversation.

 

Felix Cao:

As you mentioned, people were coming to you and it was more kind of feeling-based. “I like Will, and I had a feeling that this is going to happen.” Rather than prior to this entire crisis, people were kind of looking at the data, and seeing things for more of a cause and effect relationship. But now it’s more like, “Oh. Will, for example. I like his values. I like what he stands as a person.” And that is something that actually on a totality level, when you look at it, it’s more than just a relationship level. Even brands as a total have to become … they couldn’t then just do what they’re doing before, and say that over better than everyone else, because this is our features and benefits and so forth.

 

“When two people are interacting in the sales process, it’s a matter of just more than looking at just how the brand is going to help them. But who is this individual, for example? Is this a person that I want to do business with? And it becomes more even heightened now due to the whole lack of in-person or face-to-face meetings.” – Felix Cao · [23:22] 

 

Felix Cao:

Now, because of all the changes around us with all this social injustice and everything, now brands actually have to change their positioning. They have to now acknowledge all these societal issues, and position themselves as the solution to actually solve these societal issues as well. The same thing here is when two people are interacting in the sales process, it’s a matter of just more than looking at just how the brand is going to help them. But who is this individual, for example? Is this a person that I want to do business with? And it becomes more even heightened now due to the whole lack of in-person or face-to-face meetings. People are craving that type of interactions. And the people in business that understand that, that’s such a huge void that’s missing. And to come in there to fill that void is going to build a trust and rapport with the buyer or the partner that they want to do business with.

 

Felix Talks About Whether Organisations Can Influence Buyers By Addressing Social Issues · [24:24]

 

Will Barron:

I’ll frame this up from a personal perspective. I don’t know if you have data points off the top of your head, but we can always add them to the show notes after the fact. But how effective are all these social campaigns that brands do for Black Lives Matter, women Fair Play for Women in the workplace, all these different things that are somewhat timely? But it seems like a lot of the time, from my opinion … and this is the opinion, brands will jump on them. And it’s so clear that they’re just trying to get attention as opposed to actually care about these kinds of things.

 

Will Barron:

One brand I do believe in is Patagonia. They seem to do great things. They use recyclable materials, and there’s lots of social levels to even just the content that they produce on the media side of the company. I mean, they do really good job on multiple fronts. I’m happy to buy and spend more on Patagonia clothing. But 99% of all the campaigns, I look at them and it makes me feel slightly sick as I see them. From a leadership perspective, when we’re shaping the conversations that our teams are having with a buyer and we’re shaping the conversations that we’re putting out into the marketplace, is there data that shows that those campaigns and those kinds of conversations actually work?

 

Felix Cao:

I believe that they do. Right now we, of course, have to look at the data. But right now, people are looking to connect with either other individuals or brands that share the core values that they do. Especially in today’s time when people are re-evaluating their core values pretty much on a everyday basis due to all the different things that are happening around the world. It’s very important for brands to show that they … And that’s the thing is that’s kind of like the holy grail is for the person or the brand to show that they actually care, and it’s actually authentic. Right?

 

Felix Cao:

For example, one example is Uncle Ben. They’re actually changing their entire logo, so that it’s in line with more of the social … it respects the social equality or inequality movement. That’s a huge move. A lot of brands would not probably consider changing a logo that has been such a prominent and salient cue for their brand to recognise, especially on the shelves. Just the fact that they’re changing it shows that they do care, because we’re talking about a logo that people have recognised for over a hundred years.

 

Felix Cao:

That’s something that simply by looking at their actions and the changes that they’re looking to participate in, then that’s something that shows that it’s more than just, “Oh, this is what’s happening today. We’re going to come kind of jump on that bandwagon.” And hopefully everything turns out right, and then the next thing you know they’re doing something else. This is something that shows that they’re willing to take a part of the history, and now blend it with what’s currently happening in order to create much more strong connections with their consumer, for example.

 

Company Culture: Why Leaders Should Lead By Example When Addressing Social Issues · [27:16]

 

Will Barron:

I’m hearing congruence being authentic. I guess this comes from the top-down, right? This comes from a leadership perspective. This is company culture that we’re talking about, isn’t it?

 

Felix Cao:

Oh, 100%. In anything when we look at it, usually the people at the front are … they’re really representing all levels of the company, and a lot of those attributes are learned from the top. It’s learned through interaction, relationships, training, and showing respect, and also having high standards. If that doesn’t start with the leadership group, then what ends up happening … And we’ve probably seen this happen in a lot of organisations is that the culture and the fabric that keeps everything together becomes unwind.

 

“Usually, the biggest sign of when things are not working is a breakdown in communication, and that’s also in a one-to-one type of interaction all the way through to a collective conscience of individuals that make up an organisation.” – Felix Cao · [28:17] 

 

Felix Cao:

When that happens, there’s a lot of dissonance in terms of communication. Usually, the biggest sign of when things are not working as a breakdown communication, and that’s also in a one-to-one type of interaction all the way through to a collective conscience of individuals that make up an organisation, for example. And it’s up to the leadership team to actually set those high standards, and to guide almost the ship in terms of the direction of where it wants to head to, rather than … it’s kind of sit back, and let people do what they want to do. And before you know it, there’s a million different opinions of where things want to go, and then there’s no clear direction. That’s when you have people making choices that may not be the best for either themselves, and especially for the organisation as a whole moving forward.

 

Changes in B2B Buying After The Pandemic · [28:30] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. I want to wrap up on this final idea of … there’s probably multiple metaphors that we can use of when people are battered and bruised for 18 months. Do they become hardened and calloused? Are they less likely to become more optimistic in the future? Are we literally scarring … or not literally, but figuratively scarring our brains here and making them a more rigid? Or is the level of positivity to all this? Can we bounce back from this? I know it’s subjective, but is the market likely … if the logical elements of the market changed, it was a good time to spend money, would we bounce back? Or all we wired as humans to keep that resource holding, and perhaps be pessimistic for longer than what the facts tell us?

 

“The brain is very resilient, and it’s able to adapt to new situations. As we’re seeing it right now, companies that were relying mainly on more of the face-to-face interactions, now they’re really forced to move into the online world.” – Felix Cao · [29:52] 

 

Felix Cao:

Well, I think right now, I think the main thing is the brain is very resilient, and it’s able to adapt to new situations. As we’re seeing it right now, companies that were relying mainly on more of the face-to-face interaction … now they’re really forced to move into the online world. We have this kind of collision, or this kind of hybrid, of doing business now that involves both the offline and then the online kind of coming together.

 

Felix Cao:

The experiences coming out of this is going to be one that’s a combination of the two. How does someone prospect now? Before they used to be able to go to a live event. Now, how do they do it in a virtual world, and find events where people are sitting, let’s say, in some sort of conference call? How do they do business where they’re used to doing business locally, because they can meet with that person in a coffee shop? Now their business reach is almost limitless. Now, they could do business with somebody that’s halfway across the country, or maybe around the world.

 

Felix Cao:

There’s certainly a lot of positive aspects to look at this. In a lot of ways, how do people continue to become motivated? How do they get out of the mode of feeling procrastination? Also, building that to a level of mental toughness. How do they find structure in this new digitised world, plus balancing work and home life? Moving forward, I think it’s very, very exciting is that simply because the whole digitization of the business world, that just opens up plenty or limitless opportunities as we’ve seen with the internet in the early 2000s.

 

Felix Cao:

Especially for, let’s say, e-commerce. That blew everything up, right? You had eBay. You had Amazon. And then with mobile phones, it was the same thing. Instead of waiting to come home and then check your email, or looking to browse your favourite e-commerce site, now everything was actually executed on a phone, let’s say, on a subway ride to home, or maybe just while watching TV or something like that. I think it’s certainly exciting times what’s going to be happening, especially when this hybrid model kicks in with doing business with the online plus the offline world.

 

Felix Reveals How Long Until Buyers Fully Adapt to The “New Normal” of Online Selling and Buying · [32:20] 

 

Will Barron:

How long … It might have happened already. How long do you think it’ll take for the buying brain, literal brains inside the buyers’ heads, to go, “Okay, this isn’t …” We use the word ‘the new normal’ all the time. “This isn’t the new normal anymore. This is just how it is.” How long do you think we … until you think, Felix, that we don’t have this conversation about change anymore? We’re just back to the new status quo?

 

Felix Cao:

That’s a great question. I don’t know if anyone really has the true answer to that. I think right now, everybody’s still trying to figure out how do they navigate “through this new normal.” But I think what everybody will probably agree on is that the way of doing business or life in general has changed over the last 12 months, for sure. In the world of business, if we just focus on that, you’ll notice a lot of the interaction will be in-person plus conference calls as well. The interactions will certainly be different in that respect.

 

“Acquiring talent will be one of the major things. Now, somebody does not rely locally, now there’s an option to explore talents of people in a different country that they may not have discovered due to the whole digitization process.” – Felix Cao · [33:26] 

 

Felix Cao:

That will impact, obviously, the sales cycle. Also, relationship building. Also, team building. Also, acquiring talent will be one of the major things. Now, somebody does not rely locally. They could actually, let’s say … now it’s an option to explore talent of people in a different country that they may not have discovered due to the whole digitization process. In terms of a timeline, there’s really no timeline until we … This something that we just have to navigate the best that we can during this period of change. And then while being agile and flexible, that will allow us to transition much more smoothly into whatever this new normal or regular normal will be once we come out of this.

 

Will Barron:

I’m going to go off the record here, Felix. I will have you back on in the future to review me going on the record. We’re still in the UK. We’re still in lockdown right now. There’s 27 different stages, and different criteria need to be hit for these things to happen and these things to happen. I’ve lost track of all the dates that stuff’s supposed to be happening. But my prediction is a year after lockdown ends and there’s no rules for social distancing, stadiums can be full … I think a year after that, we’ll have totally forgotten about all of this. We might have new habits and new ways of doing things, but that’ll just be the new norm for the next 10 years until we get hit by a meteorite, or until the next pandemic, or until someone else happens.

 

Why Most People Will Have Forgotten What Happened During The Pandemic Once Things Go Back To Normal · [35:01]

 

Will Barron:

Genuinely, really … I feel like I could pull some data to back some of this up, but it’s more of a feeling and my experience is we just forget stuff. We’re so like short mind … our mental history as humans is just so short when we’ve got stuff to do. If something happened last week, we’re over it most of the time. And maybe this is me being a massive optimist, but I do feel like a year after that date that I can go to a football match in a full stadium, and watch Liverpool get beaten because they’re doing rubbish at the moment … at that point, we’ll have just forgotten about a lot of this stuff.

 

“We may not remember all the different stages of the lockdown, for example, but we remember how we felt while we’re going through it. ” – Felix Cao · [36:28] 

 

Felix Cao:

Yeah, that’s very possible. I think some people will forget it, but I think the feeling that comes with what we had gone through will stay with a lot of people. That’s something that, as we talked about, sometimes you forget about what they tell you, but you’ll never forget about how they made you feel. And this is one of the relationships that on a public level, a lot of people have with this whole COVID situation. We may not remember all the different stages of the lockdown, for example, but we remember how we felt while we’re going through it. And that may impact people’s behaviour moving out of it. And you know what? The great thing is if it moves back to normal and everybody meets face-to-face and everything, then that’s wonderful. But I think the main thing here is regardless of what direction it moves in, then as people in leadership positions or in a business, we’re able to adapt to that new situation no matter if it’s pre-COVID or the new normal.

 

Parting Thoughts · [36:24] 

 

Will Barron:

[inaudible 00:36:20] Felix. We’ll wrap up there mate. Tell us where we can find out more about you.

 

Felix Cao:

Yeah, absolutely. Best place is to connect with me on LinkedIn. If you just type in Felix Cao, then I’m more than happy to connect with people on there. Also, on my website at www.happybuyingbrain.com. I have a blog that I post frequently. If people are wanting to learn the latest news on the role of neuro marketing and how they can help level up their businesses in terms of sales, and ROI, and marketing, then feel free to subscribe to the blog as well. And, of course, you can reach me at [email protected] if you want to email me. But LinkedIn would be the ideal place.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. Amazing stuff. I’ll link to the LinkedIn, the website, and everything that we’ve talked about in this episode the show over at salesleadership.org. And so with that, Felix, I want to thank you for your time. Your insights on this. I love talking about the brain, clearly. I love this topic. I want to thank you for joining us on the Sales Leadership Show.

 

Felix Cao:

Thank you. Well, I definitely appreciate it. Thank you for having me on the show.

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