To move people effectively and powerfully requires seeing them as a participant and a collaborator. Here’s what happens when you don’t do that. People consult a physician when they’re afraid, and often in pain. Fewer than 50% of people who get a prescription from this expert consultant actually fill it. Of those who do fill it, slightly less than 50% take it as the physician directed. So when someone is motivated by both fear and pain, inconvenienced by time and travel, and have to pay to consult an expert, less than 25% actually follow that expert advice.

Consider this question for yourself—and write down a specific number as soon as you read the question. What percent of your real work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value for something you have? Something that will bring them great value?

Almost 10,000 professionals around the world were surveyed to address this question. Nearly everyone considered this aspect of their work the most critical component of professional success. Yet while most people believe direct persuasion is crucial for professional success, the time allocated to engaging and directly persuading people was extremely low—in single digits. What we find valuable and what we actually do may be significantly different.

When we work for ourselves, we are entrepreneurs, and we become salespeople as well. What people in sales do is to move people.

What we purchase is for emotional as well as intellectual reasons, and most often our choices have been influenced in ways so subtle that we have failed to recognize them. We purchase emotionally, and justify logically. In the first few seconds, people decide whether they will listen to you or not. People make a purchase decision several seconds before they are even consciously aware of it.

There is an influential story pattern that every brain recognizes. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The neuroscience of persuasion studies how people have deeply rooted mind and brain responses that determine decisions.

The persuasion industry, led by neuromarketing, is attuned to influencing everything we buy. What we purchase is for both emotional as well as intellectual reasons, but most often our choices have been influenced in ways so subtle that we have failed to recognize them. Neuromarketing research shows us that selling is the transfer of emotion, and that we make purchase decision based on what fits out identity.

Brain-based strategies of the persuasion sciences can generate measurable improvement of engagement and sales for your professional services and products.