3 Powerful Brain Secrets That Will Persuade People To Take Action

“Attention, everyone! Get out of the water nice and calmly. We have a shark 🦈 in the bay.” 

This morning during my snorkeling, I got a compelling first-hand experience of what persuades people to take immediate action. And I tell you, the conversion rate was 100%. Within a few minutes, we were all out of the water.

In business, we rarely have an actual shark to convince people to go ahead and buy our products or services without hesitation.

For many entrepreneurs, coaches, and consultants, selling our unique services can be challenging. We are passionate experts at what we do. And many of us don’t like to appear salesy. We feel that our service should sell itself. But we also know that it’s just not always that easy. 

Knowing the brain secrets that make people receptive to persuasion can help boost your client flow. And even without having to make hundreds of cold calls.

Back to my morning with the shark to illustrate how the brain works when it comes to persuasion. 


The lifeguard continued: “Attention, all surfers and snorkelers. Everyone must keep calm. Just make your way out of the water. We have a confirmed visual of a shark in the bay. The beach is now closed. Get out of the water.” 

I had just turned around after swimming around a big circle-shaped coral reef. I was looking at the beautiful colorful fish. Thinking about how unique nature is. Those patterns on the fish and the colors are unlike anything I have ever seen before. That was when I heard the lifeguard calling. “Get out of the water. We have a shark.”

I made my way towards the exit of the bay area. There are many lava rocks by the exit/entry point, creating a funnel towards the beach. As I was approaching the bottleneck, I suddenly sensed the panic in some of the other snorkelers next to me. Another woman pushed me aside as she was frantically pushing forward with her fins. I just put my hand on her shoulder and looked at her. I could see the fear in her face. 

And that’s when I realized that fear is a powerful motivator. However, our decisions when we are in fear are not very calm, cool, or collected. 

Putting my hand up like that to persuade the anxious swimmer to calm down made it clear that I do not possess the powers of a Jedi. 

Just imagine for a moment – having the persuasive powers of a Jedi knight!

“These Are Not The Droids You’re Looking For”

What if I was able to move my fingers like a Jedi in front of any Storm Trooper (read client) and say: “you will remove these restraints and leave the cell with the door open.” And then have the Storm Trooper repeat: “I will remove these restraints and leave the cell with the door open.” And finally, watch him do the action I desire. 🤩

I thought: “How cool would it be to be able to persuade our clients to take the action we desire?” Even if we don’t have the powers of a Jedi.

What is it that moves the needle from success to failure in persuasion?

One of my favorite scenes in Star Wars is when Luke Skywalker is out in the swamps with Yoda. Learning to use the force while Yoda sits on his back, saying: “Do or do not, there is no try.” 

Luke continues to get disturbed even though he is so close to lifting his X-Wing out of the swamps. 

Just as Luke is about to open his mind and let the force flow through him, we watch him lose his focus because of his doubts and fears. 

Thinking of that scene from Star Wars and the shark situation this morning brought me to my AHA moment about how the brain works.

The Door To The Brain Opens Outward

We all act like Luke when we’re in fear. The swimmer did it. Some animals do the same thing.

If I’m in fear, I’m not open to learning. If I feel hostility or danger, I’m unlikely to engage. In that sense, I’m just like a hedgehog or a snail. If I’m not feeling safe, I’m either rolled up spikes pointing outward or in my shell. And I’m not coming out until it feels safe.

The thing is that the brain works like that for a reason. If we feel danger, all our attention goes into fight or flight. That made sense when wild animals or a shark haunted us.

In a business environment, this natural built-in survival mechanism in the reptilian brain gets activated by fear. Whether the threat is fancied or real. If we communicate or perceive danger, we miss the window of opportunity for influence and persuasion to take place. The door to the mind closes.

In other words, certain conditions need to be in place for our brains to be open to persuasion.

First And Foremost, We Need To Feel Safe

Once we feel safe, we are willing to open the door to the mind and engage. Once we feel safe, we can be open to persuasion in a buying situation.

Another brain fact is that human beings make decisions based on emotional triggers. Besides fear, other emotions that drive us to take action are hopes, dreams, motives, and desires. 

”Mind Tricks don’t Work on Me Only Money.”

This Star Wars quote by Watto is an excellent example of what moves us to take action and purchase a product or service. 

Watto’s chief motivator is his desire for money. He has positive anticipation of an even greater gain that drives him to take the risk of losing Anakin. The possibility of material gain makes Watto accepts the bet from Qui-Gon Jinn.

In the Neuroscience of Persuasion, Baek et al. would contribute Qui-Gons success in persuading Watto to take the bet to Qui-Gon’s ability to mentalize:

”Without the ability to … understand the attitudes, beliefs, and feelings of others …, we would be lost.” 

In business, we need to be able to mentalize. We need to understand the attitudes, beliefs, and feelings of our clients and customers.

The Drive For Social Belonging

The third brain fact about humans is that we have a strong desire to belong.

In the Journal of Consumer Research, Goldstein et al. found that a sign showing that ”the majority of guests reuse their towels” was more effective than “you can show your respect for nature and help save the environment by reusing your towels during your stay.”

The example shows how the need to belong can drive us to change our minds and take different actions. In other words, appealing to what other people do is key in persuasion.

How To Use The 3 Powerful Brain Secrets In Making Business

Knowing that we can only successfully sell what people want to buy. And knowing that certain conditions need to be in place for the mind to be open to persuasion. 

The next step is to consider how we can use these brain secrets to successfully persuade people to take action and buy our products and services.

The vital point to remember is that the door to the mind opens outward

Persuade People To Follow Your Call To Action

If we feel safe and that we can grow or gain something we value. And if we think we belong, seeing social proof that others do the same. Then we are much more likely to participate in a buying situation and be open for persuasion. 

As a business coach who helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses, I suggest you consider this question. 

How does your content and marketing material use the 3 Powerful Brain Secrets to persuade people to follow your call to action?

Brain Secret #1: Safety

  • Is your content and marketing material making people feel safe?  
  • Do you relate your messages to peoples’ prior beliefs rather than challenge them head-on? 
  • Do you give options rather than orders giving people a feeling of choice and control? 

Brain Secret #2: Belonging

  • Do you feed the need to belong? 
  • Do you appeal to the need to feel good and in emotional sync?
  • Do you consider the popularity of “most people”?

Brain Secret #3: Growth

  • Do you have a focus on gain, rewards, and benefits rather than warnings?
  • Are you creating an intriguing gap of knowledge? Make people curious?
  • Do you highlight the opportunity for progress and growth in our marketing material?

When we consider these 3 powerful brain secrets, we are more likely to persuade people to follow our call to action. 

We all need to feel safe. No sharks in the water! 

We also need to feel that we belong, that we are part of the group. And that we can grow and gain the benefit we desire. When those basic needs are covered, we feel good. And when we feel good, we are more likely to take risks and be open to persuasion. To capture attention and persuade people to follow your call to action, share something genuinely relevant and fascinating about your unique story and service.

“May the sales force be with you!”

About Sophie H Higgins, MA, MBA, MBC: I’m a freelance Copywriter & Business Coach, and Martial Artist. I specialize in helping people and businesses grow. I provide high-quality content and create online courses that help you get a river of revenue flowing for you. Need a copywriting magician to boost your client flow and grow your revenue? 🧙‍♀️ 

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