Abstract This article presents neuromarketing as a way to detect brain activation during customer engagement. Whereas traditional marketing has concentrated on the value and competitive advantages of a product or service, contemporary marketing takes a holistic approach by also considering the purchasing process and the retail store atmosphere to evoke a positive shopping experience (Levy and Weitz, 2009). In 2007, neuroscientists at the University of California Los Angeles scanned the brains of people watching commercials during the Super Bowl, the annual championship game in professional American football.
This article uses neuromarketing to study how customer engagement is managed by salesperson behaviour and in-store marketing assets. We start by establishing a Virtual Customer Journey model based on the consultative selling process. Neuromarketing is a new application of the neuroscientific approach to human behaviour in the market context. Previous neuromarketing studies help marketers to understand customers’ emotional, cognitive, and neural activity at the moment of the purchase decision. Marketing stimuli can be simulated and customer reaction and behaviour can be observed in the laboratory. Building on this foundation, we developed a Virtual Customer Journey model based on consultative selling.
Consultative selling is the process of professionally providing information to help customers take intelligent actions to achieve their objectives (Liu and Leach, 2001). In addition, marketing assets – including the store environment – are often converted into a consultative selling environment to support the sales process. Customer engagement can refer to the stages consumers travel through as they interact with a particular brand or company. Although there are several techniques for scanning the brain, the two most important for neuromarketing are electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The research process followed the suggested outline of an fMRI study for social sciences (cf.
However, it is important to understand that the unit of analysis is not a single magnetic slice scan from a test subject’s brain, but the change of the BOLD (Blood-Oxygen-Level-Dependent) signal per specific time unit. Because the amount of brain data in fMRI studies is typically ample, the data analysis process is a critical step in the study. Different components of the brain’s valuation circuits were active at each phase of the Virtual Customer Journey. The test subjects’ fMRI showed significant correlation to the consultative selling process in DLPFC. Second, the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) was active during most phases of the consultative selling process.
Previous studies suggest that response in the IFG acts as a safety signal, because it shows a higher response to safer options than unsafe option (Christopoulos et al., 2009). This article showed that neuroimaging is a suitable method for investigating consumer perceptions in situations where pleasure and displeasure can be measured at each step of the customer engagement.
The analysis showed that important areas in the brain were active during the buying process.
To sum up, neuromarketing cannot push a "buy button" in the customer’s brain because there is no "buy button" to push.
Lauri PalokangasLaurea University of Applied Sciences and Nokia Lauri Palokangas, BBA, graduated from Finland's Laurea University of Applied Science’s Business Management Programme in summer 2010 while continuing his career at Nokia.
We offer a critical reflection on one of the key reasons for the startlingly low success rate of innovation initiatives worldwide – the fact that the interactive environment surrounding the customer is a critical part of the adoption process; it can and should be designed in a way that enables customer creativity, and thus adoption. Through the use of self-service mobile devices, the traditional marketplace interaction is being replaced by a marketspace transaction, in which the foundation of customer-company interaction has changed.
Research on open source software (OSS) has examined value creation primarily from the perspective of the individuals and suppliers that create the software. Mikes sales success results from his tried and tested methods and now passing on his skills is an opportunity not to be missed.Mike is a thoroughly professional seller, and if the opportunity to work with him arises - take it with both hands. So if you are new to Sales, an experienced seller needing a refresher, or perhaps a Sales manager or Director of your organisation and you need to improve your Sales revenues by closing more business, as quickly and as efficiently as possible, then we can help you.
Our approach to Consultative Selling in a B2B environment follows a very simple principle and a basic definition of business. The Consultative Sales Company offers clients a wealth of first hand closing experience built upon 26 years of very successful front line, complex solution selling in the IT industry, and from representing World Wide Blue Chip companies such as IBM, SUN, UNISYS and leading vendor Business Partners.
Please browse this website for more information or why not register now and download your Free Introductory Training Videos, or simply call Mike Pick on (44) (0) 7446 197444  to get your Sales enablement started. This 2-day workshop utilizes sales role-plays, interaction models, extensive videotape feedback, and a maximum of 12 participants to ensure skills development.
In today's sales environment, customers and clients respond most positively to a consultative approach. This program is for any sales professional who wants to expand and deepen their tool kit for building trust and credibility. Transactional selling is really about treating the product or service as a commodity rather than a strategic investment.
Strategic, consultative, solution, complex, relationship, and even enterprise selling are pretty much the same term, and for the sake of this article are going to be treated as such. The complexity of a strategic sale involves many decision makers from the buying side and many reviewers from the selling side. Thanks for taking the time to read this and as always, I do appreciate and welcome your comments. If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribe to the feed and get future articles delivered to your feed reader. I welcome your input, so please feel free to contact me with your questions, suggestions or comments.
While inbound is increasingly important, there is still a critical role for outbound prospecting and sales.
If you would like to discuss consultative solution sales in more depth or explore how your organization can enhance and align your sales approach, contact us at Revenue Architects. As brain imaging and neuroscience develop, neuromarketing companies will be able to pull out more sophisticated data about what makes people want to buy or avoid certain items. Neuromarketing is a field of marketing research that studies consumers' sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli.
Neuromarketing has surfaced as a new branch of marketing that studies the consumer's subliminal reactions to marketing material, brands, products, and product groups. The reason for the study is that most neuromarketing studies focus on simple product and brand preferences or reactions to advertising (Chessa and Murre, 2007). The model is needed for structuring the data-collection process and for analyzing the neuroimaging data. Rather than simply trying to use science to better understand the decision-making processes of individuals, neuromarketing studies test subjects’ reactions to certain stimuli, which are then recorded with the aim of revealing consumer preferences. However, the in-store shopping experience starts outside the store and continues beyond the purchase and after departing the store.
The model reflects customer engagement through a step-by-step process and provides a structure for organizing marketing material required for a neuroimaging analysis. First, every human has mirror neurons that are associated with social behaviours such as imitation and empathy. It is a type of personal selling in which a salesperson plays the role of a consultant who assists the buyer in identifying customer needs and then suggesting products that satisfy those needs.
Typical marketing assets include an optimized product mix, branded shopping bags, and physical store components. This customer-engagement cycle, also known as the customer journey, has been described using a myriad of terms but most often consists of five different phases.
The purpose of the first phase is to acknowledge the presence of the customer and make them feel welcome. The second phase emphasizes listening to the customer and understanding their needs, experiences, and feedback. This phase includes determining the customer’s problem, identifying a suitable solution, and proposing a solution alternative. In the fifth phase, sellers acknowledge that the process is about building a business relationship that may later result in a repurchase (Moncrief and Marshall, 2005). Whilst EEG is the recording of electrical activity outside of the brain using scale electrodes, fMRI measures changes in blood flow and oxygen levels according to mental activity and enables researchers to isolate systems of neurons associated with functions of the brain. All fMRI data is based on the changes of the BOLD-signal, which essentially measures the ratio of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin in the subject.
The purpose of baseline stimulus was to help the test subject to relax and to allow the BOLD signal to decrease and normalize after the expected hemodynamic response to the stimulus. Each test subject’s brain data were preprocessed, which means that the collected data were corrected and organized to be comparable with the rest of the data from the same test subject.
The expected intensity of brain activity (BOLD signal) was modeled to a design matrix (Friston, 2004). First, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) activation was found at each five phases of the consultative selling process. The Family Wise Error (FWE) correction was applied to the inter-subject analysis to address the variance in the location of the neural activity. Therefore, the IFG activation in our trials indicates that test subjects perceived the shopping environment as safe, and they did not feel fear or risk. Hippocampus activation indicates that the test subject’s memory was active during the process. For the purpose of the study, we established a Virtual Customer Journey model, which is based on the consultative selling process and is easy to apply in neuromarketing research laboratories.
However, our analysis could not explain possible fluctuation in perceived risk during the process.


These areas included the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), in which the activity equates to increased feelings of safety, thereby having a positive effect on the individual’s willingness to buy.
However, activation in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), which is a part of the mirror neuron system, suggests that test subjects associate themselves with objects (including people) seen on video during the simulated customer journey. His work is mainly related to smartphones and he has gained significant experience through various information technology, pre-sales, and marketing positions over more than a decade. This article discusses the main actors of experiencial value creation through the physical world and virtual world in the context of transport service.
The perspective of enterprise users who use and pay for OSS has been largely neglected so far. Alan Avery,Client Executive, IBMMike brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and practical tips to every training session and delegate feedback is always exceptional. The workshop focuses on consultative communication skills as applied to existing sales models and situations.
We participate in transactional engagements on almost every trip to the grocery store, and we for the most part, don’t give it a second thought. This is the reason I wrote in a previous article about having a game plan, hence your effectiveness to manage a sale of this nature is compromised unless you have a formal process because of the complexities in this type of sale. Regardless, appropriate selling techniques have to be used in order to maximize your effectiveness for not only what you sell, but to whom you are selling. More leads are generated from inbound marketing with valued content and lead gen tools, but sales must qualify and manage these leads while also developing prospects using more traditional outbound strategies. Here are some attributes – some are foundational, others more specific to the consultative approach. We established a Virtual Customer Journey model based on the consultative selling process to study customer engagement by using brain scans. It has been described as a way to apply the methods of the neurology lab to the questions of the advertising world (Wilson et al., 2008). While people watched the advertisements, a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine scanned neural activity in areas of the brain responsible for everything from language to emotion.
However, marketing scholars argue that neuromarketing is still in its infancy and will likely provoke a vast amount of research that goes beyond the current emphases (cf. We then describe the study, in which brain activation was measured in 16 test subjects while they participated in trials that were organized according to the phases of consultative selling. The results of these trials can potentially predict differences in thought processes being deployed by consumers that might not necessarily be observable with behaviour (Venkatraman et al., 2012).
The consultative selling approach suggests that marketers should understand the shopping experience from the moment the customer steps into the store until the moment they walk out, because it affects the customer-engagement process, which has long-term effects.
Although marketing research employs techniques such as focus groups, surveys, and observation to better understand consumer decision-making, virtual store research uses these standard research techniques within a simulated store setting. In other words, a Virtual Customer Journey model allows researchers to study customer perceptions and feelings throughout the customer-engagement process based on test subjects’ perceptions of simulated events. Due to the mirror neuron system, which is the neural basis of the human capacity for emotions such as empathy, the test subjects are able to associate themselves with the people and behaviour seen on the screen. Consultative selling is about finding out the prospects’ needs and gaining a greater understanding of those needs.
Furthermore, displays, banners, and product information sheets support the customers’ decision-making process. In the context of consultative selling, we regard these phases as: i) create a connection to the customer, ii) understand customer needs, iii) address customer needs, iv) close the sale, and v) establish a sustainable customer relationship. If the salesperson does not understand customer needs adequately, the likeliness that the proposed solution will address their needs is probably not high enough to support closing the sale (Chakrabarty et al., 2010). Although the customer may have learned of the providers’ product range previously, the customer often needs professional help to identify the most suitable solution for the problem, especially in the high-tech industries. Meeting the customer's needs and adding value to their daily life increases the likelihood of a repeat purchase and customer loyalty. Therefore, marketing focuses on ensuring that the newly founded relationship with the customer will continue after the customer walks out of the store.
The method highlights relevant networks of neurons by coloring the image of a brain in the locations of significant increases in blood flow.
The video clips shown during the trial were organized chronologically by the five phases of consultative selling.
The fMRI scan of each test subject’s brain was performed every 1,800 milliseconds (TR), during which the image was acquired in 27 slices with a voxel size of 3 mm by 3 mm. After viewing a baseline, the test subjects were shown still pictures selected from the introductory video, and they were provided with a valuation stimulus in terms of a question on the test subject’s willingness to purchase on scale from one to six.
The time stamps were later used to align variations in the BOLD signal with the events shown during the trial.
The design matrix is a specific table, where rows represent points in time and columns represent test variables.
First, the statistical parametric maps of individual test subjects were analysed using a t-test with respective t-contrasts.
DLPFC is an area in the primate brain that serves as the highest cortical area responsible for motor planning, organization, and regulation. The IFG activation was absent only in phase 4 (closing the sale); however, the activation increased again in the final phase. The activation of the memory system was expected, because the information shown during the process likely triggers an individual’s memories. It is useful for neuromarketing research that goes beyond traditional market research and customer satisfaction surveys. The perception of risk among test subjects remained at a low level at each step of the process, meaning that the customer felt safe throughout the buying process. Given that neuroimaging reveals brain activity, it can help marketers to identify and reduce negative feelings such as fear, insecurity, danger, and risk among customers, and thus promote customers’ willingness to buy. The findings indicate that they tend to think “the person on the screen is me”, and they behave, react, and feel accordingly. Lauri’s thesis work focused on measuring the impact of retail marketing assets on a customer’s purchase decision during the solution-selling process.
Numminen has broad experience in functional neuroimaging research and is the author of several publications in international peer-refereed journals such as PNAS, Human Brain Mapping, and Frontiers in Neuroscience. Understanding what paying customers want and how to create products and services they value is the cornerstone of any business model.
The key to developing consultative relationships is through open and interactive communication. But what would happen if that item was now a major piece in your way of life that required a substantial cash outlay? The reason for little or no value add is there are no non-standard business inputs (needs) that would require much more than the exchange of goods and cash.
Although aimed at bigger sales organizations, it is highly effective for smaller groups that wish to grow their business in a volatile market as it addresses the technological changes that have occurred. In today’s environment, these are taking even longer and transactional sales are beginning to mimic the cycle times of typical strategic sales. This short article does not cover the complete scope of strategic selling, which in itself could be many chapters. My goal is to share success strategies I have used and my hope is you are able to quickly apply them in your endeavors. By not asking questions, and understanding our business model at even a basic level, she ended up turning me off and insulting us by using a generic pitch that did not apply.
With you permission, I’d like to use your template internally in our own organisation? Consultative selling suggests that a customer’s shopping experience is managed by the salesperson’s behaviour and in-store marketing assets, and that the customer gets engaged step by step. Neuromarketing has revealed significant new information about human preferences and emotional responses by measuring the brain activation when customers view and evaluate different products or advertisements (Plassmann et al., 2012).
The results showed that, whereas a Doritos spot stimulated empathy and connection, many of the other expensive ads provoked anxiety and fear.
The trials are aimed at building targeted advertising campaigns, designing new consumer products and shopping environments, and even determining the reasoning behind subjects’ preferences for certain brands (Belden, 2008).
When a customer enters a retail store, they see many different stimuli, including people, advertisements, products, and the whole marketing environment.
Virtual store research uses computer simulation technology to create 2D and 3D retail contexts that are deemed close to the real shopping experience. The study constructs a Virtual Customer Journey using video clips and still pictures gathered from the high-technology sector. Second, the activation of valuation circuitry in the forebrain during the exposure to these marketing stimuli would indicate that the test subject has an intention to buy products displayed on the screen.
The sales professional is a valued advisor and problem-solver rather than persuader or someone merely promoting a particular product (Sharma, 2007). These assets play an important role during consultative selling, because customers are led through the path of discovery using light, motion, and visuals to strengthen the positive experience. The sales management literature suggests variations of consultative sales process and argues there is not a single model that would have become the most widely accepted process model (DeCormier and Jobber, 1993). When a mutually beneficial result has been achieved, the act of closing a deal can be anticlimactic: it does not necessarily require a specific technique if the customer has already received value in the previous phases of the selling process (Moncrief and Marshall, 2005). Using fMRI, researchers are able to image the neural activity associated with vision along with the cognitive and affective responses to stimuli (Wilson et al., 2008).
The video was presented first, and then a customer was shown six still pictures captured from the video. The fMRI data was analyzed in three steps: i) preprocessing, ii) formulating a design matrix, and iii) performing statistical tests.


The natural movement of the brain causes displacement of several millimeters, which can be corrected by alignment. The results were modelled into the statistical parametric map based on the common anatomical brain image. It plays an important role in the integration of sensory and mnemonic information and the regulation of intellectual function and action, and it is involved in working memory. DLPFC activation indicates that the Virtual Customer Journey organized by the phases of consultative selling activates the general valuation system of the brain. It has been shown that the IFG is active when an individual performs an action or sees another person performing an action (Iacoboni and Dapretto, 2006). The level of satisfaction at each moment of the shopping experience is more important than the emphasis on products. The perceived level of safety only had a marginal drop at the moment of the purchase decision (phase 4).
The benefit of neuroimaging is that even a relatively small group of test subjects can provide reliable information on customer reactions to marketing stimuli (Berns and Moore, 2012). This notion encourages the use of neuromarketing that utilizes still pictures and video clips as well as arbitrarily chosen small groups of test subjects for studying customer behaviour and reactions in different situations. His research and consultation interests include the neurophysiological basis of human behaviour in marketing and education.
The hypotheses of the research are from the discipline of neuroeconomics, whereas the behavioural research relates to Lauri’s areas of expertise at Nokia.
Tech., holds positions as Principal Lecturer at the Laurea University of Applied Sciences and Adjunct Professor in the Aalto University School of Business in Finland.
He previously held positions as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley and in the School of Economics at Aalto University in Finland.
A salesperson would only need to uncover the need, establish a quasi-relationship, and fill that need for product or service. Strategic selling is a systematic sell in that a formal process is undertaken on both the buying and selling side.
A total of 16 test subjects were shown video clips and still pictures from a consultative sales process at Nokia’s flagship stores, and their brain activity was scanned.
Nationwide Insurance’s ad, which featured Kevin Federline as a failed rap star stuck in a job in a fast-food restaurant, generated anxiety and feelings of insecurity that were quite opposite to the company’s goals.
We argue that neuromarketing can be applied to understanding complex marketing problems, such as customer engagement processes, by showing selected marketing material to the test subjects. Test consumers within the virtual environment can interact with store merchandise and make purchase decisions in a way that closely resembles real, in-store behaviour. In the study, both marketing assets and the behaviour of salespeople are organized by the phases of consultative selling. Valuation activation is an important precondition for test subjects’ purchase decisions, and mirror neuron activation implies that they associate themselves with events taking place during the consultative sales process seen on the video.
During the process, the salesperson needs to ensure that the customer feels satisfied with the whole purchase experience. Many high-technology companies establish flagship stores with a distinctive store location, decor, or merchandise mix to promote and attract customers.
We established the phases for the purposes of our study, and we presented and organized video and photo material in our empirical research in accordance with these phases.
As the retail salesperson performs a product demonstration, the marketing activities are concentrated on lowering the customer’s purchase barrier for a particular product that is identified as a potential solution to the customer’s problem (Liu and Leach, 2001). Many universities use fMRI for neuroeconomics research, which uses brain-scanning technology to study how people make decisions, calculate risks and evaluate rewards, evaluate personal choices, and decide which products to buy. The test subjects’ brains were scanned and brain activation data were monitored while they viewed the pictures.
Second, a process of co-registration enabled a positioning of BOLD signal on the anatomical image of the test subject.
In this study, each of the columns in the design matrix depicts one of the five phases in the consultative selling process, as illustrated in Figure 2. Secondly, the group analysis was performed for the statistical parametric maps including the results of the t-tests from the individual analyses. Previous research shows that this activation is an important prerequisite for purchase decisions (Glimcher, 2010). Therefore, the IFG activation in our trials shows test subjects were not only seeing the people on the screen but also associating themselves with  those people and mirroring their behaviour and feelings during the consultative selling process (Keysers and Gazzola, 2006). Because the brain’s valuation system acts at a conscious level, the information required for analysis is unachievable without the help of neuroimaging. However, the brand used in our trial may indicate a limitation to the study, because Nokia’s strong brand in Finland can endorse the feelings of safety and affect neural mechanisms of decision making (cf. The information is especially useful for companies building customer-appealing stores and shopping environments, as well as for planning their sales processes and producing marketing material such as advertisements that support the company’s positive image and foster sales. Jyrki is the founder and head of the Neuroeconomics Lab at the Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Seppo holds a doctoral degree in Marketing from the Hanken School of Economics and a licentiate degree in Information Technology at the Helsinki University of Technology. He has also studied marketing and business administration at the University of Rhode Island and the University of California Davis in the United States.
In addition, he has extensive experience of the clinical use of fMRI in pre-surgical evaluation of patients with brain tumours.
Finally, the successful seller will have convinced the customer that by being Consultative throughout this process, only he or she and their company resources, can be trusted to deliver these benefits in a timely manner and thus complete the desired and continuing process of business, P=R-C.
A strategic sale is one that demands a ROI because it is usually a capital investment project. The results show that test subjects were able to associate themselves with people and events on the video and they felt safe and comfortable during the consultative selling process. Researchers noticed that the amygdala, which is a kind of a threat-detector region of the brain, was much more active compared to other brain regions. The marketing material used in this study consisted of video clips and still pictures derived from Nokia’s flagship retail stores (Figure 1).
We used fMRI to record the brain activation of 16 test subjects at the Advanced Magnetic Imaging (AMI) Center at Aalto University in Finland (Figure 3). After each still picture, customer behaviour was evaluated by asking test subject’s about their intention to purchase the product and measuring their responses on a six-point scale.
The images had to be further processed to apply temporal and spatial comparison of data between the test subjects. With this approach, it was possible to test the assumption that particular differences between conditions account for the variance in physiology. That is, customer preferences are subconscious and difficult to express using words (Berns and Moore, 2012). We believe that the findings and the method can be used not only for assessing the buying process, but also for testing new product and service concepts and applications, especially in the high-tech sector.
His research and consultation interests include value co-creation and capture with users as well as relationships, services, and business models in marketing. Jarmo holds a doctoral degree in Education from the University of Tampere, Finland, and a licentiate degree in marketing with a food science emphasis at the University of Helsinki.
In addition, for you (the male) that are married, you also have to get the VP of Household Finance to sign-off on the purchase. The dollar amount will vary according to what you sell and to whom, but my experience in enterprise sales the typical deals are $500k-$1M.
The study implies that laboratories can build virtual environments that resemble real shopping environments where customers can participate in the buying process and respond to events displayed on the screen, and that neuroimaging is useful in providing valuable information on customer behaviour that is not achievable otherwise. Each test subject was shown 30 pictures and we stored a total of 3,240 functional magnetic image pictures per person. Third, after a normalization process, test subjects’ functionally homogenous brain sections became spatially comparable and it was possible to use standard coordinates to refer to one part of a brain among the test subjects. This study applied the method to analyze the differences in neurophysiological responses between the phases of consultative selling. Nevertheless, different stages in the buying process were perceived quite similarly, indicating that customers felt comfortable about the consultative selling and purchasing was perceived as easy throughout the process.
Previously, he was Director at Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Helsinki.
Therefore, the test data includes 51,840 functional brain images (16 test subjects x 3,240 images). Fourth, a spatial smoothing with a Gaussian kernel was applied to the data in the study to increase the signal-to-noise ratio and the validity of inferences in the analysis (Henriksson, 2009). This finding suggests that consultative selling is an effective way to serve customers and their needs, especially in high-technology markets, and that it reflects a step-by-step customer engagement starting from the moment the customer enters into the retail store and ending only after closing the deal and ensuring the initiation of a longstanding customer relationship.
He has authored books, research, and articles on research methods, marketing research, neuromarketing, and neuroeconomics.
With preprocessing, it was possible to apply within-subject and between-subject statistical analyses for the neurophysiological data.
This test compared the statistical parametric maps of individual test subjects in order to drive inferences in the group level. The between-subject analysis was used to test which brain areas are active during a specific consultative selling phase.



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