Do People Really Buy Emotionally?

When I first heard that “People buy emotionally and justify with logic,” I couldn’t help but feel a little insulted. “I’m a rational person,” I consoled myself. “When I buy something, it’s because there’s a good reason for it.” Then I started thinking about my last purchase…

Evidence #1: The Coffee Grinder

My last purchase was a coffee grinder. Did I need it? Well, yes, I needed it so I can make nice coffee at home. Wait a minute, I needed nice coffee? No, it was a want. I wanted delicious coffee, because of how it made me feel. I could just as easily drink instant coffee, but that wouldn’t make me feel as good as the freshly ground version. My rational mind justified my purchase of the coffee grinder.

Evidence #2: Straw Huts, Satellite TV

On my trips to the poorer parts of Asia, I couldn’t help but smile seeing people living in straw huts with satellite widescreen TVs. Perhaps it’s a sign of how affordable technology has become. Or maybe these families felt it was more important to have family entertainment than to upgrade their dwelling. Either way, it was a sure sign that people buy what they want before what they need!

Implications for Sales Consultants

The late great Zig Ziglar famously stated that “selling is transference of feeling.” Your steadfast conviction about your product and its efficacy will say far more about it than any product brochure or website can. How strong is your belief in the product?

What about business to business purchases… Surely they are more rational? Consider this – have you ever turned down a sales consultant because they rubbed you the wrong way? Did their product have anything to do with your decision? I’d wager not.

For better or worse, humans make decisions primarily through emotions. This fact has been validated scientifically.* Consequently, sales consultants must adjust their strategy accordingly.


Get excited, obsessed, and emotional about your product. Think about it day and night, visualising how it will make a difference in your clients’ lives and businesses. When making presentations, avoid overloading your prospects with facts and information. Rather, help them to imagine what the future holds for them if they make the purchase. Use questions such as “how would it make you feel?” rather than “what do you think?” There are numerous other applications, but understanding this principle will guide your efforts.


It’s true – people buy with emotions, and justify with logic. To be more effective at selling, we need to become emotionally involved with our work. To help our clients, we need to limit facts and details to focus more on outcomes. How would it make you feel if you applied these principles, and increased your sales as a result?

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*Emotion, Decision Making and the Orbitofrontal Cortex, Damasio, 2000

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