July 17, 2021

Karim Nehdi Discusses Using The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument for Whole Brain Business Development

Karim Nehdi Discusses Using The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument for Whole Brain Business Development

Karim Nehdi shows you how to read your prospect’s mind so you can tailor your service offer to exactly what they want. Learn how the Herrmann Brain Dominance model works in business development and how you can use the concept to better understand...

Karim Nehdi shows you how to read your prospect’s mind so you can tailor your service offer to exactly what they want. Learn how the Herrmann Brain Dominance model works in business development and how you can use the concept to better understand how a prospect thinks, what they care about most in terms of communication, and how you can use that to close more deals.


Mo asks Karim Nehdi: What is your big idea on how people can grow their book of business, relationships, and career?

  • Different people think differently, but most people don’t realize what that really means. The most effective leaders and business developers are able to harness the differences in thought and cognitive diversity for maximum effect.
  • We all have neural pathways that shift over time. We innately default to seeking out people that think like us, but the best teams break out of that pattern and tap into the differences in the way that people think.
  • Karim is the CEO of Herrmann International and has been working with Mo for a long time in many of the programs he’s developed.
  • We are just scratching the potential of what the brain is capable of. We’ve learned over the past few decades that there are cognitive modes that dictate the way that we think, and the four different modes come together in different measures within each person.
  • The first system is analytical thought. The second is structural thought. The third is relational thought. The fourth is experimental thought. We have all four pathways in our brains, but over time we come to default to one or two primarily, and that’s where the trouble comes in.
  • People think they connect on preferences and areas they align. When you feel a match with someone the ideas tend to flow fairly easily, but when there’s a mismatch, the interaction can be awkward or difficult.
  • A good example would be the IT team and the customer facing team. They both think in nearly opposite ways, and this can create tension in an organizational setting.
  • In a business development context, understanding the differences can be very powerful. If you sense the prospect is risk averse, you should probably minimize the experimental and transformational elements of the pitch and focus on the process and how it all works.
  • The most important component of good management, good leadership, and good stewardship is making sure that you have diversity of mind. Leaders that can bring a unique viewpoint and harness that within their organization can have a big impact.
  • 3% of people are balanced across all four quadrants. Everyone can tap into the four different thinking systems. You just have to be willing to stretch and flex those cognitive muscles.


Mo asks Karim Nehdi: How can we use our cognitive diversity to create and close more deals?

  • What if you could read the minds of your customers and predict their response in advance? That would be an incredibly powerful business development skill.
  • The first step is understanding yourself and where your preferences lie. For Mo, he fell into the experimental/analytical spectrum and knowing that helped him understand what was really on his mind and how he approached life.
  • Your unique thinking style comes with strengths but also potential blindspots. Your default thinking may be leading you in the wrong direction for a deal, and if you never look back or get into the habit of thinking about your thinking, you will keep making the same mistakes.
  • Once you know what your thought process is like, you can use that as a model to consider how a prospect might be thinking. Think about one of your most important customers and take a guess about what they might be thinking about in terms of what you are offering.
  • If they are a big picture experimental thinker, maybe they are looking for something more innovative. If they are more relational thinkers, maybe they want to know they are going to be taken care of and are really concerned about what everyone else thinks. If they are structural thinkers, they are probably hyper-focused on the details and whether the offer will deliver exactly what they need. If they are analytical thinkers, they can be very price sensitive and looking for the greatest measurable ROI for them.
  • Understanding the different types of buyers can allow you to position your product or service around what their needs might be.
  • Don’t assume that people are on the same wavelength as you and ask the question about what they need.
  • There are certain ways of thinking that tend to manifest more often in certain industries. Analytical thinkers like actuaries are probably all about the bottom line and being efficient in their communication. Structural thinkers are probably all about the details. Relational thinkers may ask you about your personal life and will probably engage with you beyond verbal communication. Experimental thinkers will ask a lot of questions to try to connect the dots, and you might see them work out their thought process in the conversation.


Mo asks Karim Nehdi: How do we use cognitive diversity and adapt to each of these four different ways of thinking?

  • The baseline is to understand where you are likely to default and what your blindspots are going to be. Think about your pitch through the lens of what the stakeholder wants to hear and needs to understand in order to feel comfortable to move forward.
  • This can mean adding in additional details for the structural buyer, including some ROI calculations for the analytic buyer, bringing in other clients to speak on your behalf for the relational buyer, or coming up with some novel ideas for the experimental buyer.
  • Prepare your thinking in advance and try to start the conversation with where their preferences are instead of starting with where you are at.
  • We often think about relationships on a one-on-one basis, but there are lots of people involved in the business development process. Business development is all about making your team work seamlessly with your customer’s team which is where cognitive diversity comes in. You need to make sure that the people on your team that think a certain way are being paired up with people that need to think that way.
  • You need everybody to be on the same page and moving in the same direction to take advantage of an opportunity, and understanding how each person on the team thinks and facilitates that knowledge transfer.
  • In just 10 minutes you can get a basic understanding of the mindsets on your team and identify some of the things you need to do to bridge the gap. Taking the time to think about your thinking has a massive ROI in business outcomes.
  • Understanding the thought processes of the individuals at play builds trust and allows people to communicate and solve problems more effectively.
  • Challenge everyone that is involved in the conversation to think about their thinking and how it’s going to play out in the success of the stakeholder.


Mo asks Karim Nehdi: How can we use cognitive diversity to hack our own habits and be more successful, even when we’re busy?

  • Business development is a team sport. There is a role for the individual relationship, but there is also an important role for the team that supports that relationship.
  • Research shows that cognitively diverse teams who know how to harness cognitive diversity are 60-70% more effective than teams that don’t. Cognitive diversity accounts for about 20% of the variance in overall team performance and up to 34% in specific activities like strategic thinking and problem solving.
  • The first hack is around making sure your team is built in a diversity by design way. If you all share the biases and blindspots, they will be magnified in a deal context. On the other extreme, if you have too much cognitive diversity without the tools to manage it, it can create emergent conflict.
  • When you’re building a team, an easy way to stay balanced is to ensure you have at least one person who can represent the mindset of someone from each quadrant. Have an experimental thinker that can connect the dots, a analytical thinker who is going to be ready with an ROI calculation when you need it, a relational thinker who is able to build the personal connection, and a structural thinker that is going to make sure the customer has everything they need to feel comfortable.
  • The best teams have a steward for each way of thinking. The lone experimental thinker may be an outlier, but they are also probably the most necessary mindset.
  • Karim tells a story of a CEO that he worked with that had a specific set of questions answered at every meeting. Why, What, Who, How? Coincidentally, those four questions map to the four quadrants of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument.
  • One way to take notes in a meeting is to create the four quadrants and write down notes in the corresponding mindset/question. If you notice that an area is missing, you can bring the focus there before the meeting wraps up.


Mo shares his insights from the habits of Karim Nehdi.

  • There are four major ways we think: analytically, structurally, relationally, and experimentally, and each way of thinking gives clues.
  • With an analytical thinker, they are going to be quick and cut to the chase. They want to jump right into the meeting and get things done.
  • With the structural thinker, they will want to know the details and what the process looks like. They want to know the steps to start something and how to keep it going.
  • With a relational thinker, you will see clues that they care with more emotion in their voice. They probably think from the perspective of other people and ask more questions to dial up the engagement.
  • With an experimental thinker, they may zig zag in the conversation and want to do things that haven’t been done before. Experimental thinkers want to connect the dots.
  • Analytical thinkers want to dial in the ROI, structural thinkers desire safety, relational thinkers want more connection to you and your team, and experimental thinkers want a strategic fit with where they are heading.
  • To adapt to a person’s thought style, make it easy to talk about what matters to them, whether that is money and ROI, that you’re a safe choice, that your team is ready to engage, or what you stand for and how it aligns with their goals.
  • Big deals are sold by teams, to teams. You can really knock a deal out of the park by covering all four ways of thinking.



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