Understanding the way our brains work can have an enormous effect on our quality of life. This is, of course, just as true when it comes to applying it to business; working with your psychology makes you more efficient. We’re using this thinking to look at the RAS, and how you might be able to equip it to improve your lead management.
What is the RAS?
RAS stands for Reticular Activating System, and it describes a particular function of our brain where all the information we take in from the outside world gets processed and filtered (except for smells, which travel up to the same area as emotions in our brain). The amount of information we take in at any one time is far too much for our brains to deal with. The RAS provides a filter so we only notice the things our brain knows we ‘need’ to notice.
How Does It Affect Our Behaviour?
Some of these are survival skills. We’ve always needed to be able to hear our names being called out, and we’ve always needed to look for any signs of dangers. These are top priorities, so the RAS filters for these automatically.
In terms of our actions, the goal of the RAS is to help your daily life continue as smoothly as possible. Disregarding the rest means you don’t go into sensory overload, and sensory information that seems reinforced and familiar gets you put on autopilot (for example, reading road signs you remember very well when driving). Anything new, the RAS makes sure you pay particular attention to.
One example of a daily occurrence might be you needing to look out for a particular name in a box of files. You know what the name is, so you’re able to look through quickly and spot it as soon as it shows up. You’re not taking the time to check each and every name in its entirety on each file; it’s not important information, so it gets disregarded. This is your RAS working to make this task much quicker for you.
It’s also how, although you know that one annoying bird in your back garden chirps at all hours of the day, you don’t hear it 24/7. But when you finish concentrating on something else, your brain tunes it back in, along with the rest of the world around you. The bird hasn’t stopped singing; your RAS decided it wasn’t important, so it didn’t break you out of your focus.
How Can We Use This in a Business Context?
When we talk about using RAS in a business context, what we’re talking about is how to emulate that filter. This can be something applied to our day-to-day management of work, and to how we market to our leads.
The RAS for the Self
Here, equipping your RAS aligns with your organisational skills, as it works with filtering information. It lends itself to task management and prioritisation.
Reminders can help us reinforce the idea that a certain task or concept in our day-to-day work lives is important. These can be physical reminders, such as visual, tactile or auditory. They can also be circumstantial, aligning this with an important part of your day that your RAS is already familiar with, to associate this as important too.
The RAS for Lead Management
Using your RAS for lead management is about going a step further, and encouraging other people to recognise something as important. This is particularly beneficial for business as, if your leads remember you, half the work is already done!
An effective use of association, you could equip the RAS for lead management by using certain phrases for certain circumstances that your leads are interested in. There are three steps involved in this:
What Are the Questions Leads Are Asking?
Leads want answers. They want solutions. This is, of course, a principle notion of selling, and therefore the first step is finding out the questions leads need solving. Aligning your marketing with these questions will put you in a good position as – especially if the need/desire is urgent – the lead’s will brain will have already put an exclamation mark over the topic.
What Can You Associate With These Answers?
The idea is to embed a piece of information so completely into a topic that your lead will not be able to separate it from their question. This means reinforcement of your concept, however it is expressed. Remember, it doesn’t just have to be visual – a catchy advert jingle can work too! As is standard practice, test and measure what is memorable. The more likely your leads see your messaging as important, the more likely their RAS will flag up that information every time they experience it.
How Much Can You Market to the Leads?
A vital aspect of how the RAS works is that your brain need to ‘realise’ the importance of an outside stimulus (i.e. not a built-in free pass like hearing your own name). Frequency is a way to achieve this: put your chosen stimulus in enough of your marketing and your leads could be seeing it everywhere, even without meaning to. It needs to be memorable enough for it to be reinforced, but not so obvious that their RAS filters out the word.
We know so little about the brain that there is no guarantee this will work every time, but if it works, you’ve got a lead attuned to your messaging!
At the very least, it is an interesting concept and a reminder of the powers of reinforcement. It’s this reinforcement that tells the RAS to put things on autopilot, so we can function more effectively and more efficiently, both in our personal lives and in our work.