how-the-brain-buys-and-the-non-existence-of-objections-joe-girardWhy don’t people just GET what you are saying?

Maybe you need to take a look at the way you communicate and that the brain actually makes decisions way before people do. You are possibly shooting yourself in the foot…

Today I am in Las Vegas at a conference and I love watching salespeople SELL. I just finished up, and am having a beer at the Bellagio so I thought I would share a quick story to start. 

This morning at breakfast, I watched a wonderful crash and burn of a highly probable sale. The potential customer was sharing their story with the sales rep who couldn’t wait for his turn to jump in and tell her all the facts and figures. He couldn’t wait to tell his story and missed a HUGE chance to dig deeper into what the other person was saying. There were some major emotional cues and opportunities just sitting right there.

Instead of tending their story, asking deeper questions, sharing a laugh, or just simply connecting emotionally, the conversation just slipped away. Are you doing the same to your customers? Do you know why they aren’t listening?

Today is all about the brain and resistance.  

(And once again, make sure you listen to the audio here or click the play button below as I go into more detail for your listening pleasure)


This is actually lesson 4 in my FREE 7 Day Sales Bootcamp you can access here.


I have a burning desire to help more salespeople become authentic in what they do. To become Sales Heroes. 

Let’s have some fun today explore the mind! Sound good?

Over the past decade, one of the biggest areas of study and discovery for me has always been around how people make decisions and exactly what goes on in the mind. The cool part is that much of the most exciting research in neuroscience, behavior, and psychology has only been released in the past ten years.

In the previous lesson we talked about selling in stages and helping your buyers make decisions using smaller, micro-commitments. We also chatted about the power of reciprocity and concessions. Today, we’re going deeper.

My goal is to help you get some ah-has on how what you say and do can have profound effects and to start to be a bit more hyper-aware. This falls in line with lesson 2 and that you should start to TEST these ideas!

Understanding these concepts will help you feel almost like you have superpowers and it will make your sales conversations (and all your conversations for that mater) much smoother. So take a few moments and really THINK about this…

The 3 Part Brain

Let’s talk a bit of brain science for a moment, shall we?

This content was previously a part of a 4 part series on why we make decisions based on emotions.

Your brain is composed of three systems, which is referred to as a “triune” brain. These three systems are nested within each other as each have been developed during a different period in our evolution.

The first one is your reptilian brain (survival) and that is located towards the bottom and is essentially the brain stem, medulla oblongata, the pons, and the reticular formation. This is our most primitive brain and the one that controls all of our most basic functions, including breathing, heartbeat, and our “fight or flight” instincts. Even while we sleep, the reticular formation is monitoring sensory data such as an unfamiliar noise or skin sensation.

The second system is your limbic brain (emotional), consisting of the thalamus, formix, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and amygdala. It was the next part of our brain to evolve and wraps around the brain stem. It forms the seat of our human emotions and plays the major role in our memory as well. It is what draws us towards things that feel good and away from things that feel bad. Anger, fear, lust, jealousy, happiness, are all from our limbic system. It is also the part of our brain that allows us to learn.

The third system is called the neocortex (thinking) and it is located atop and around the limbic system. Compared to other mammals, humans have the largest neocortex of all of them. This is the most recently evolved of all the parts of our brain and is therefore the youngest. The neocortex is responsible for speech, planning, visualization, and all intellectual control. The neocortex is further divided into two hemispheres or “right” and “left” brain as you may be familiar with.


Also note that these three brain systems form in the womb in the same order as listed.

“We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.”
– Richard Restak

The reason it is so important to understand these three systems is that it helps us realize that the complexity of our brains and the way we actually process information.

Information flows from the inside out, meaning that we process ideas first from survival, then from emotion, and lastly through thinking. This is the main reason that trying to get someone to see our point often doesn’t work when we try and “reason” with them.

Especially in sales, where salespeople have been taught to have all the answers with product knowledge, facts, and figures. The best sales people have developed the ability to connect with others from an emotional place.

Now I am not contradicting my view that sales is a process. I am saying that as part of the process, understanding the psychology and science will dramatically improve your processes and, ultimately, your results.

The major disadvantage to the ways our brains are built is that we think too much. If you want to increase your sales effectiveness, help people think less and feel more.


In lesson 6 of this series, I will talk about credibility and trust a bit more. Your customers need to know (logically) that what you say is true. ROI, real business impacts, proof, etc.

Think of your brain’s limbic system as the first responder. It produces an emotional response before it produces a cognitive one. This is the first part of the science on why we make decisions based on emotions. The more you learn about the way your brain processes information, the more I hope you see why a lot of your conversations go sideways.

In sales, in relationships, and in everyday life. We “know” we are right in what we’re saying, but they just don’t get it, right? How can we convince them? Well, the power is not in the convincing, but in the connecting.

One of the activities I always include in my training is ensuring that all your features and benefits language include feelings in them and taking the time to actually think about the emotions your solutions address.

Now that you understand a bit more of the way your brain processes information and why we make decisions based on emotions, think about how you will use this information in your conversations. Rather than facts and figures, can you connect emotionally with your audience? Can you bypass the “flight or fight” and BS meter?

We are the worst predictors of our own future behavior

Another area that’s super cool to learn about is just how little control we have over our minds and behaviors. At first, when I started reading and learning the research around concepts like priming, framing, anchoring, and primacy, it felt like I was helpless in the fight against my own mind!

I can only briefly explain it here, but the crazy stuff I have learned is all around how the order and positioning of information, language, and environments can have a massive effect on how well your ideas are received.

Once I began learning about these areas, it started to make me look at everything differently and some big-time self awareness kicked in.

How many times throughout your day do you just simply go through the motions? How observant are you on watching the subtle cues from others? How often do you actually test the ways you say things and the order you say them in?

Even a simple idea like a confirmation bias can have a profound effect on how you position your words. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say, “Is Andy friendly?” Now what if I said, “Is Andy unfriendly?”

All hope is not lost, though. My mission is to use this information for good, rather than evil. Sales is a heroic act and requires you to be a hero each day. By learning these areas of the brain and psychology, you are better equipped to help your buyers make good decisions, rather than bombard them with more information.

You actually rescue people from buying hell!

Don’t handle objections. Reduce resistance.

When I hear people talk about how to handle objections, I cringe. Of course objections come up and you will need to deal with them – that’s normal. But what if you communicated with your buyers in a way that just made it easy to buy?

Your goal should be about reducing resistance, not handling their objections. Understand that when someone tells you NO, it is much harder to get them to change their mind.

Behavior sets a precedent.

Remember that we are genetically wired for fight or flight, so if someone goes against our behavior, we want to run.

There are NO new objections. They’ve all been heard before. Are you prepared in your industry to handle them all? Most objections look like this:

  • I don’t know if we are ready to do this
  • I would like to look at some other options and get back to you
  • We’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked
  • I need more details
  • I need more references
  • We’ll have to have guarantees
  • We have other priorities at the moment
  • I need to talk this over with my boss, my wife, my nanny, etc.
  • That may not work for our unique situation
  • We are doing just fine in our marketplace
  • It may be something we take a look at next year
  • And so on…

In reality, there are only four main objections:

  1. No money
  2. No urgency
  3. No need
  4. No trust

I’m not going to go into detail on the specific strategies to work through these objections here. Besides, this lesson is already getting longer than I had planned!

Instead, understand that there are two kinds of resistance:

  1. Knee-jerk (which is called reactance)
  2. Anticipated regret

When you hear an objection in the typical sense, it is usually reactance which is what you must avoid. To properly counter the NO, you should work towards minimizing knee-jerks and painting a future that does not have regret. This is a HUGE concept that is so often overlooked.

Instead of telling someone to do something, you want to get them to visualize a different, exciting future.

In the next lesson, we are going to get into some ways that you can use story telling and conceptual agreement to reduce potential NOs from happening.

This is cool stuff, right? I get pumped up just writing and talking about it! But it gets even more fun when you apply it.

It reminds me sometimes of that last scene in the movie the Matrix where Neo just sees the Agents as numbers and symbols and it’s like time just slows down. the more you learn about behavior (yours and others), the easier it becomes to have genuine, solution-oriented conversations with little resistance.

(click here or the image below to watch the Matrix video)

Here’s what you can do with today’s lesson.

Write down how your customers feel about using your product or service. What emotions do they have that you can talk about to potential customers? Perhaps feelings they didn’t expect to have and that were different from how they felt before they bought? Then, go try and work those emotions into your language when talking to new customers. Also, observe the behaviors and subtle body movements when you speak in emotion language.

If you want help applying these lessons to your sales efforts or would like me to speak at an event, reach out to me here and see if we would be a good fit.

-Joe Girard

Here are some related posts from my blog that go into more details on some of these ideas:

And please remember to share this with others! Join the FREE 7 Day Sales Bootcamp and get all 7 of these lessons. Feel free to comment below as well.

Joe Girard
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    3 replies to "How the Brain Buys & The Non-existence of Objections"

    • […] the last lesson, I started getting into some of the cool psychology around influence and decisions. Today is about […]

    • Gerald Richards

      Hi Joe,
      I’m surprised that you still talk about objections as though they are real. They are an artificial construct based on Patterson’s ‘The primer’ in 1887.
      Objection definition: “To oppose or protest; counter-argument; an adverse reason or statement; a feeling of disappointment.” In which case, as you say, the sale is already lost. When I put this definition to sales trainers and salespeople they say that is not their definition and concoct some false meaning which is nothing less than being passive-aggressive only seeing it from their point of view. A whole industry has grown up around a falsehood as there is no proof that buyers have objections. It’s just people chanting that “Buyer’s have objections” like some cult.
      In over thirty years of successful selling I’ve never had to deal with or entertain “Buyer Objections”. What I’ve encountered are concerns which are a natural occurence in any social intercourse. Concern dictionary definition: “To be important to someone or to involve someone directly: relate to; be about; a matter of interest or importance to someone.” At the beginning of a presentation I can say, for example “As we progress you may have some concerns and questions so please let me know as they arise” In all my years I’ve never heard a salesperson say “What’s your objection?” or a buyer say “My objection to what you are saying is that it is expensive”
      You are hot on bringing in emotions and rightly so for that’s how we buy. So why do sales trainers insist on training people on negatives? Objections – negative, aggressive and back end selling. Concerns – possitive, assertive and up front selling. I reframed from ‘objections’ to ‘concerns’ to make selling easier and more natural.

      BTW when I saw your name I thought it was the car salesman of the last century. Any relationship?
      Kind regards

      • Joe Girard

        I agree – you have to understand for SEO purposes and to work on MY audience’s specific challenges, they are always searching for ways to “handle objections.” And I rework that for you all as “reducing resistance” which comes in two forms – REACTANCE and ANTICIPATED FUTURE REGRET (if you want to get technical on the psychology side). What we realize is that if you are handling objections, most likely you are too late. So instead we work on developing better sales conversation roadmaps that help keep reactance at bay and move the customer to a better place where they aren’t at offs with the offer.

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