Consumer Marketing

Understanding How Buyers Make Decisions


Many salespeople make a critical error when approaching prospects; they assume that the prospect wants to buy their product and is unlikely to say “no” to their offer. In reality, the opposite is true: most peoples’ brains are wired to reject sales and are not likely to buy unless the salesperson overcomes their natural resistance to it.

This is actually good news. Selling is not a matter of luck; it is a matter of science. If you can learn how the brain operates when making decisions, you can use that knowledge to get people to buy your products.

There are three parts of the brain that are involved in making decisions:

  • The cerebral cortex, which is also known as the “new” brain. This part of the brain is responsible for conscious thought and operates on the principles of logic and rationality.
  • The limbic system, or middle brain. This area of the brain processes emotions and responds to hormones.
  • The brain stem, or reptilian brain. This part of the brain controls breathing and other automatic processes.

The Brain Stem is The Decision Maker

Recommended for YouWebcast: Sales and Marketing Alignment: 7 Steps To Implement Effective Sales Enablement

Contrary to popular belief, the brain stem is the part of the brain that makes decisions. This is counter-intuitive; most people assume that the logical part of the brain decides things. Thus, salespeople tend to try to appeal to logic to get prospects to buy from them. They site statistical reports and explain how features work. This approach is misguided because the reptilian brain does not respond to logical arguments.

In a sense, the reptilian brain does not respond to emotional arguments either. Most salespeople try to appeal to emotions such as envy and pride, but these emotions are not relevant to the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain is the primitive part of each of us that quickly evaluates whether something is a threat to us. It then acts to ensure our survival. It is responsible for our fight or flight response.

Thus, appealing to emotions such as your desire to look better than the woman next door or to travel the world doesn’t really work. The reptilian brain cares only about the emotions of fear and pleasure. In order to sell products, you must quickly make it clear that something bad will happen if the prospect declines your offer and something good will happen if the prospect takes the offer.

Specific Strategies for Appealing to the Reptilian Brain

  • Remember that most people are more motivated by fear than pleasure. Thus, if you can demonstrate that your product protects them from loss of some kind, they are likely to buy from you.
  • First impressions are even more important than you might think. The reptilian brain decides almost immediately if your product enhances or threatens its survival and acts accordingly.
  • The reptilian brain is overwhelmingly visual, so the more positive images you throw at it, the more likely it is to decide in your favor. In addition to providing positive images of your product, make sure to have a genuine smile and a sparkle in your eye to make a purchase decision easier.

If you keep in mind that you only have a few seconds to convince the buyer’s brain stem that it needs your product or service to survive, you can easily come up with strategies that sell more products for you.

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 0

Add a New Comment

Thank you for adding to the conversation!

Our comments are moderated. Your comment may not appear immediately.