A Little Known Human Behavior Fact Every Sales Leader Should Know

If you looked at the majority of sales pitches, you would assume—as most people do—that in order to inspire people to buy a product or service, you need to win them over with compelling facts, figures and pieces of information.

Your SaaS product is the highest-rated on the market. Your law firm has the most competitive prices in the area. Your app has been downloaded more than 1 million times.

But in Simon Sinek’s popular leadership book Start With Why, he explains a little known fact about how we humans make decisions that will forever impact the way you sell.

Simon explains that the neocortex area of our brain is responsible for rational and analytical thought and language. When we create pitches chock full of data and “best of” information like the examples above, this is the part of the brain we’re appealing to. The limbic area of our brain is responsible for all of our feelings and behavior. When we tell stories or give inspiring talks, we’re appealing to our customers’ limbic brains.

Turns out, we humans make decisions with the limbic brain—the emotional part of our brains—and not our rational and logical neocortex.

As Simon writes, “it’s not logic or facts but our hopes and dreams, our hearts and guts, that drive us to try new things.”

So why do our customers often communicate that they made purchasing decisions based on the rational pieces of information we fed them? Because language lives in the neocortex—the rational and analytical part of our brain. The limbic brain does not have the capacity for language, which is why we struggle to communicate our feelings. And yet, that’s where every single one of our decisions gets made.

As Simon writes, “Because our biology complicates our ability to verbalize the real reasons why we make the decisions we do, we rationalize based on more tangible factors, like the design or the service or the brand. This is the basis for the false assumption that price or features matter more than they do. Those things matter, they provide us the tangible things we can point to to rationalize our decision-making, but they don’t set the course and they don’t inspire behavior.”


Apple is the best example of how this foundational human behavior fact plays out in the world.

Apple is largely reported to have some of the highest brand loyalty in the world. Yet Apple’s products are the most expensive on the market. Compared to competitors, their software is limited, their machines are often slower and their product updates have been met with lukewarm reviews.

So why do they dominate the market like they do? Because Apple represents something more than the product features they tout—innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship. People buy Apple products because their limbic brains latched onto the story Apple told them about who they would be if they bought their products, and a decision was made.

So, as you’re creating your next sales pitch, think about how you can speak to that limbic, emotional brain. What stories can you tell to build trust and inspire your potential customers? What anecdotes can you share to make them feel understood? Marry those with all your great data and you’ve got yourself a truly winning pitch—and business.

To learn more, check out Simon’s book here and TED talk here.