An Edge in ABM for both Marketing and Sales

When we are focused on one company, on one set of executives, I’ll take every advantage I can get. This time, the edge is coming from a different discipline.

I’d like to suggest a new way of understanding and customizing communications, which has the potential to make every interaction, from content to a sales call, more specific and effective. This insight can bring us measurably closer to the way customers and prospects listen, process information, and learn.

My colleague, Dave Kaiser, principal of H2H Dynamics, is a former Chief Learning Officer, former Naval Aviator, and has been in the human performance field for over 25 years. He also led a three-year research study for the US Air Force to improve human performance even further.

This has led him to some unique insights.

How people experience the world, process information, and learn.

Marketing seeks to educate and influence. Sales’ is to build trust and rapport. I think we can all do a better job. Here’s how:

The insight that Dave will share is basically that the ways people learn differ significantly, and by easily identifiable groups, Thus, if communications are aligned with executives’ learning preferences, each will gain a extra level of effectiveness.

The corollary is, of course, that current marketing and sales efforts may be underachieving by making it more difficult for some executives to listen and learn.

What is really powerful is that these are skills we can learn to be able to decode human behavior “on the fly” just by observing their language behaviors “second by second”. This will allow us the ability to accurately identify those segments.

Dave, please provide the background.

A famous researcher named Dr. Taibi Kahler, a Behavioral Psychologist, discovered that there are six distinct and unique human “Perceptions” that filter how each of us view and interpret the world around us. What he discovered was so profound and validated that he was the recipient of the Eric Berne Memorial Scientific Award for the most scientific discovery in his field of psychology.

NASA’s lead psychiatrist for manned space flight used Dr. Kahler’s communication process in the selection and training of the space shuttle astronauts. Since then it has been used very effectively by a past U.S. President, Fortune 500 CEOs, and even by Pixar Studios for both their leadership and their development of their animated character personas that both children and adults easily connect with.

Dr. Kahler discovered that everyone views and processes the world around them in at least six different ways – each called a Perceptions;
1. Thoughts
2. Emotions
3. Opinions
4. Inactions (reflections)
5. Actions
6. Reactions (likes and dislikes)

“Each of us has a primary Perception or preference as to
how speak, listen and learn.
A person is either born with this base Perception or
developed it very early life (before six months of age),
and it remains with them their entire life.”

Here’s where I see the potential for ABM:

Early in our go-to-market process, we create new Prospect Personas to better understand significant segments of our target market. Going forward, let’s add two things. During the “voice of customer” research interview, let’s also listen for how people express themselves – the words they use.

In analysis, we discover that a particular customer is consistently using phrases such as, “I think…”, “What options…”, “Does that mean…”, Who…”, “What…”, “When…”, “Where…”, “…facts”, “…information”, “data”, “time frames”, etc.?

This indicates that this person’s primary Perception is that of Thoughts. They value facts and the way they process and learn is by identifying and categorizing people and things. They prize data and information. Logic is their way to get through life.

With this information you can craft your messaging and interaction so that that it “connects’ through their Perception of Thoughts. To make a significant communication connection, give this persona the information that they crave such as;
• Logic
• Facts
• Data

These individuals love to take in facts and ideas and synthesize them. Give them a chance to digest the information. They also value time. Give them the space they need, and do not take more of their time than necessary.

Many high achievers may have the Perception of Thoughts.

Not everyone has the Perception of Thoughts – it represents only 25% of the North American population. However, they are internally motivated and therefore are typically high achievers. Being internally motivated typically means they are likely to rise to the rank of a decision maker.

A cautionary note.

The corollary of this process is that we each tend to communicate in our own, favored Perception, which can mean that we are consistently mis-communicating with a majority of our audience, generating content which, to an extent, does not speak their language, and from which they cannot easily learn.


This is new and heady stuff, but it can easily be incorporated. Just as those with the Perception of Thoughts are likely to become decision makers, we may learn exactly which type of content, information, and messaging they need and when in the consideration journey. Influencers are likely to have other Perceptions and require different content, information, and messaging at other points in the journey.