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Bausch & Lomb, the eye care company, had high expectations based on earlier research for a brand new contact lens that was set to launch. To meet these high expectations, the firm needed to optimize the detail aids—the brochure-like materials used by sales reps to explain features and benefits to healthcare professionals (HCPs)—for the new product. However, traditional methods had consistently led to bloated materials in which the most motivating elements of the sales presentation were lost. Sometimes, called visual aids or sales aids, detail aids are a key tool used by the health-care industry to generate product awareness and sales.

Bausch & Lomb went to Kadence International, a firm that uses neuromarketing research, to gain insights into how to present the new lens and the brochure itself.

Prior to the study, Kadence realized they had to choose the right neuroscience technique. Because the testing procedure meant the HCP was likely to talk/interact with the sales rep (as would naturally happen), this excluded EEG, MRI, and even GSR as suitable techniques, as these suffer from movement artifacts, which cloud the data whenever the subject speaks or moves.

Heart rate monitoring, on the other hand, was a perfect fit. It was noninvasive, a validated measure of emotional reaction and could be collected and viewed in real time—allowing the moderator to identify emotional moments and probe during the debrief session. Backing this up with facial coding—via a small, table-mounted camcorder—allowed Kadence to cross-reference heart rate with facial expression to validate the direction of emotion (positive or negative) picked up by heart rate monitoring.

Using this method, on arrival at the facility each respondent is fitted with a Bluetooth-enabled heart-rate wrist monitor and taken to the interview room where research assistants set up a small HD camcorder and sync this with facial-coding software. The session is observed from behind a one-way mirror and heart rate data is transmitted to an iPad in the viewing room and captured by an app developed by Kadence that allows the backroom audience to view real-time emotional peaks and troughs triggered by the sales pitch.

Kadence’s proprietary algorithms allow the app to pick out emotional highs that are normalized to that respondent’s unique heart rate signature. Over the course of the 15-minute sales presentation, a number of peaks can be identified and the time stamp of these peaks is cross-referenced with the facial-coding video feed to identify the specific triggers/content.

What Did Kadence Learn?

So what did Kadence learn from using neuroscience in this methodology that we wouldn’t have learned from traditional market research? In summary:

Keep it short. The single most consistent finding is that everyone’s engagement declines during the course of a sales call. And by the end of a 15-minute presentation, emotional engagement levels could be up to 20 percent lower than at the start. So if you haven’t got their attention upfront, it’s all downhill from there.

Ask, don’t tell. When do you think people are more engaged—when THEY are talking or when YOU are talking? It’s remarkable how much engagement increases when the salesperson is having a conversation and how much it falls when their presentation turns into a monologue. Thus, you need to equip salespeople with questions they can ask, at every step.

Don’t rely on body language. While research suggests that 80 percent of communication is from body language, our study showed that body language could be misleading. We learned that body language is reflective of personality type—so an extrovert is likely to appear interested in your product and an introvert could appear disinterested, whereas their emotional engagement could be exactly the opposite. As a result, you need to set up tangible follow-up actions to assess if your sales call went well.34


  1. Given the findings, how might Bausch & Lomb use this information to increase sales of the new lens?
  2. Could other research techniques have been used to gather the same information?
  3. Do you see the possibility of using ethnographic research here? Why or why not?

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