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Leveraging Brain Science for Effective ROI Communication

The realm of B2B sales has long grappled with the challenge of fostering trust between sellers and buyers. A striking revelation from a survey conducted by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) points to a significant hurdle in this journey - a staggering 79% of IT buyers expressed distrust in sellers' Return on Investment (ROI) calculations. Even more concerning, every executive-level IT buyer surveyed reported a complete lack of trust in these selling tools. For B2B sellers, particularly those engaging in conceptual solutions selling and who rely heavily on ROI calculators to close deals, bridging this trust gap becomes paramount. Let's take a look at what brain science tells us that we can leverage to ensure that your ROI calculations and tools will generate trust and ultimately preference from your buyers:

  1. Reduce "outgroup" bias by adopting buyer-centric language. Our brains tend to perceive and treat those who belong to different groups (outgroups) less favorably than those who belong to their own group (ingroup). In the buyer-seller case, the outgroup bias is strongly against the seller in a number of ways, including the fact that the seller is literally an outsider and not part of the buyer's company. This bias can lead to stereotypes as well as negative attitudes and behaviors toward members of the outgroup. The antidote, though, is adoption of buyer-centric language that resonates with the buyer's reality. This approach taps into the mirror neuron system, establishing a sense of shared understanding and validating the buyer's concerns. By aligning your language and concepts with the buyer's mindset, you as the seller can create a more receptive environment for communication.

  2. Reduce cognitive dissonance (and thereby objections) by including realistic and relevant examples from their world. In the case of IT buyers distrusting ROI calculators, cognitive dissonance may arise when they find themselves engaging with a tool or tactic they perceive as fabricated and not based on their reality. Sellers can overcome this cognitive phenomenon by allowing the prospect to customize inputs to match their specific situation. This customization lends credibility to the ROI calculator's output and aligns with most buyers' need for accuracy and relevance.

  3. Use affinity bias to help you. Affinity (or similarity) bias is the tendency to prefer and feel more positively towards people or groups that are like oneself. In B2B selling, this means connecting your buyers with those whom they'd deem similar to themselves. This could mean a shared title, similar educational background, the same former employers, similar industry experiences, or shared personal interests. Perceived similarity helps generate relatability, trust, and comfort faster and more. Therefore, consider how to better leverage your selling partners / the SMEs in your midst to co-create and articulate the ROI calculations for your key prospects.


Understanding the brain's mechanisms to trust-building, cognitive dissonance and biases, and preference-generation can collectively help you establish stronger, more mutually beneficial relationships with your buyers. If you're seeking further guidance on co-creating ROI calculations and impact stories to build more trust faster with your ideal prospects, the BrainSells Global team is here to help.

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