Patrick Renvoise of SalesBrain tells us how Neuroscience can help overcome Zoom fatigue and other digital era pains.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Patrick Renvoise: Luckily, our family is doing well. The main difference for us is that we are no longer traveling. That is a big change for somebody like me, who has travelled 3 million miles to 56 different countries! Our business has seen a significant drop, but we have found a way to adapt to the new norm…. read on!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SalesBrain
Patrick Renvoise: I co-founded SalesBrain after a career in complex sales where I marketed multimillion supercomputers and software to some of the largest companies in the world. In 2002 and after a couple of years of research, I co-authored the first book on neuromarketing, and this launched our company.
Neuromarketing is about using neurophysiological measurements such as EEG, Facial coding (measuring emotions based on how people contract the 43 facial muscles), eye tracking, heart and breathing rate, and skin conductance to extract what people want and how they will respond to various messages called stimuli. In addition, in our books, we have revealed NeuroMAP®, the first scientific model of persuasion.
How does SalesBrain innovate?
Patrick Renvoise: We use neuroscience discoveries for Scientific Growth, Rapid Growth, and Proven Growth. As the world’s first neuromarketing agency, our clients transform their sales and marketing performance by targeting the decision making part of your customer’s brain. Daniel Kahneman–2002 Nobel Prize and author of the highly revered book “Thinking fast and slow”—call this brain system 1 and we prefer to call it the Primal or unconscious brain. Using the proprietary NeuroMap® persuasion model, we offer a unique set of research, training, coaching, and messaging services. This is our main innovation: we teach companies a better way to communicate their value proposition. This is anchored not on a list of empirical recommendation but a scientific model of persuasion.
We started in 2002 and have now helped over 6,000 companies worldwide while training over 200,000 executives of 26 different nationalities.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Patrick Renvoise: In March 2020, we received about 25 phone calls from all the clients we were going to work for in the following months: they all cancelled the engagement we had set up. So we had to rethink how we could deliver our services remotely.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Patrick Renvoise: The silver lining is that we found a way to adapt our model to selling and delivering or teaching remotely. Here is what happened: in the last 20 to 30 years, people learned how to use modern tools to sell face to face, namely using PowerPoint and other similar software to present their solution and ultimately sell it. Then, overnight in March 2020, people could no longer meet their clients face-to-face because of travel restrictions. They had to quickly switch to a remote selling process where most, if not all, of the interactions are done with software like Zoom. Now the world is under the illusion that Zoom can replace face to face selling because you can hear and see the presenter, and you can also see their PPT or Keynote presentations.
But Zoom presents its own communication challenges, and people have to learn a new way of remotely influencing. Think of it that way: it typically takes several years for any individual to become a good presenter with PowerPoint. For example, we all know that you shouldn’t read your slides, the slides should be almost all visuals with very little text, the presenter shouldn’t keep their hands in their pockets, and they should have excellent eye contact with the members of the audience. Yet many are guilty of delivering boring presentations where the audience quickly shuts off, and the presenter is not achieving their influencing objectives. Now think of Zoom and the fact that the platform introduces challenges on both the presenters and the viewers’ sides:
- Use a poor quality camera with poor lighting and a poor quality microphone
- Are not directly looking into the camera, so it creates the impression to the audience that the presenter is not looking at them in the eyes
- Don’t show their hands (the equivalent in the face to face presentations of keeping your hands in your pockets) and do not project their voice properly
- Voice and video are not 100% synchronized, regardless of the speed of their internet access. In fact, researchers have now established that this desynchronization is the main cause of what is now labeled as “Zoom fatigue.”
- Are easily distracted by emails, text messages, interruptions from their family members, pets, and other thoughts such as “What will I eat tonight?”. Researchers reported that this competition for attention and the fact that viewers typically multitask a lot more than when they meet face to face– is the second major cause of “Zoom Fatigue.”
- Can’t easily interrupt the presenter, so the level of interactivity via Zoom is much less than face to face.
- Have a hard time trusting the presenter because Homo Sapiens is a social animal, and through evolution, our brains have learnt to trust people when they see them face to face… not through a computer screen.
In short, the challenge with Zoom is that it creates attention and trust deficit. Zoom changes the game, and millions of people will now have to learn a new way of selling or presenting. For most, it took years and years to become an effective face to face and PowerPoint presenters, so similarly, it will take a long time for professionals to become effective presenters on a remote platform like Zoom. This represents a unique opportunity for us because we offer the only scientific model of persuasion, and it is immediately applicable to Zoom.
As early as April, we started to deliver some of our training and coaching remotely (ironically using Zoom!), and the feedback has been terrific. This is our new opportunity!
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Patrick Renvoise: One of our largest competitors is Nielsen Neuroscience, a huge multinational with large teams of employees and a worldwide presence. Because of the epidemic, they had to close many of their neuromarketing research centers, including most of their international locations. Luckily because we are a lot smaller and because our lab is portable, consisting of several suitcases of equipment (sensors, computers, and software), we didn’t have to go through such a dramatic downsizing.
Your final thoughts?
Patrick Renvoise: The epidemic represents a major event that might reshape many aspects of our lives. One of them is how people present, sell, or teach, and just like any other disruption, this will open up new opportunities. At SalesBrain, we offer the only scientific model of persuasion. Our first step is to make people understand that they are under the illusion that remote selling is the same as face to face selling… when we have scientific evidence that it is not!