Sales motivation

sales motivation

Having considered the motivation of employees and athletes in detail, I decided to address such an important issue as sales motivation. What motivates us to make a purchase from the neuromarketing perspective?

If you’re my long-time reader, you certainly know about the somatic marker hypothesis. The idea is that our brain creates and updates a certain somatic (emotional) marker in response to every experience we get in life.

When the experience is repeated, our brain appeals to existing somatic (emotional) markers, on the basis of which a decision is made, i.e. the marker will not be updated in many cases.

It does this to save energy and process more swiftly. Thus, it turns out that most of our decisions are made with the help of somatic (emotional) markers, even when we think that we make the choice with logic only.

In neuromarketing, it is the somatic marker hypothesis that is at the center of the consumer behavior understanding. We can observe the effects of somatic markers, but we cannot consciously influence them since they work in the realm of unconscious mind (i.e. System 1, in terms of behavioral economics).

Behavioral economics itself explains the somatic marker hypothesis stuff in a more understandable way. Dan Ariely calls things like that self-herding. It is a mixture of somatic markers and habit formation. Incidentally, I wrote on habit creation here. Be sure to read it.

For instance, your favorite team becomes a champion. You go to dinner at your mother-in-law’s in good spirits and buy her flowers.

Your team’s championship somatic markers have transferred to dinner with your mother-in-law. When you go to dinner at her place a month later, the same somatic markers emerge, and you buy flowers again (she can’t expect you empty-handed, and you have an excellent option cherished in your mind). It repeats a few more times and becomes a habit.

I personally have a similar habit of going to the same movie theater with the indispensable eating of falafel and drinking coffee after the movie.

So the mechanism described by Ivan Pavlov back in his days still works today in a more developed form.

It represents a great opportunity for sports clubs. When the fan visits a game of your team and gets positive emotions from the atmosphere in the stadium, the team’s play, and delicious food, he comes next time, again and again. He develops a habit, he purchases a season ticket, and you get a die-hard fan, i.e. a super loyal customer.

As we know from the study by Brian Knutson, our brain perceives parting with money as pain.

The insula is behind it which is the one playing an important role in the pain experience. The activation of this part of the brain correlates negatively with the probability of a purchase.


But if it is so, why do people buy goods for money at all? How does the sales motivation occur?

Simply put, in the process of evolution, when our ancestors’ brain noticed a fruit on a tree, they had to just pick it up. They didn’t have to pay for it. But in which case did our ancestors pick that fruit up? In the case when their brain had positive somatic (emotional) markers associated with the product. That is, that fruit had a certain expected value for our ancestor.

If the expected value is high, the reward system’s activation is stronger. What the price does, it distances us from a fruit. To get the fruit, we have to part (and our brain does not like parting with anything that belongs to us) with money (which has value for us), that is, we face two negative things in one.

If our brain finds the correlation between a reward and pain acceptable, a purchase is made.

What are the ways to reduce pain? The most well-known are paying by card, giving a customer a loan or a discount, and using the loss aversion concept. I’ll come back to this topic in a separate article soon, so subscribe to our E-mail newsletter so you do not miss it.

But how can one increase the reward? This is where the brand comes in. It is a high value for a consumer that positively affects the reward system. Having raised a reward, you get the opportunity to increase pain, i.e. the price.

A compelling case study was conducted by an American neuroeconomist Gregory Berns. He and his colleagues used fMRI to study the brain of adolescents (age 12-17) as an active segment of the music buyers in order to establish a correlation between specific features of the song and its future success.

As a result, the researchers established a small but statistically significant correlation between the activation of the brain regions, which compose the reward system, and future sales of the song.

But this circumstance only increases the probability of success of the song. It is not the only factor that guarantees good sales. Other elements are still the brand and social approval. Liking and wanting is not the same thing.

As evidenced by experiments, if we like something, it does not mean we will buy it even if we can afford it. It is the willingness to pay that becomes a fundamental factor in comprehension of the process, understood as sales motivation.


What exactly causes a willingness to pay? What affects the reward system most?

A brand with a high goal value. If we simplify the situation by imagining that our brain has got a certain rating of different priorities, we find that the higher is the place, the higher is the goal value. It is logical, right?

The goal value, in turn, is determined in the areas of the brain that are part of the reward system. Our brain calculates the final conclusion based on our own experiences, i.e. on somatic (emotional) markers, as well as our expectations from the product – how much it meets our goals and is ready to realize them.

If we need a car, we are looking for a variant with a combination of the most profitable indicators and good reviews. An electric car from the brand that is associated with a spacecraft manufacturer or a representational sedan from the brand that puts its name at the head of the most elite sporting events increase the goal value.

If we need a T-shirt to wear under the jacket, we are looking for one made of natural materials and at a low price. A quality T-shirt made of more expensive material from the brand, we have certain emotions associated with, increase the goal value. Although it will be hidden under our jacket, most of us will definitely take the opportunity to put on more prestigious underwear.

But what explains the goal value most clearly is the case of food. If we are hungry, we are looking for a place where we can have a delicious and quick meal. But as soon as we have quenched our hunger, other restaurants cease to be of value to us. However, a good environment and brand of the place increase the goal value and create authenticity. The restaurant is no longer merely a place for us where we can satisfy our hunger but the opportunity to have a business or personal meeting in an attractive setting over a cup of coffee.

By wearing a T-shirt of an expensive brand under our jacket we increase our own confidence and improve our perception of ourselves which affects our personal brand. When we buy an expensive car instead of a cheaper one, we additionally position ourselves in the society. It is an opportunity to turn to the basis of our existence, which was written about in my article.

The brand that has the greatest goal value in a particular context becomes the sole winner. So, the sales motivation is directly related to building a quality brand and determining the context within which the brand will be the most effective and bring the maximum revenue.

It’s the way we understand our product and its perception by consumers that determines the success of our brand. The understanding of the product as the one meeting additional needs of a consumer expands the market and applicability significantly.

Building a brand of any product or service, including a sports club or competition, requires a lot of attention to the brand creation and a good understanding of the target audience, using the so-called small data.

Do you want us to provide you with expert consultation concerning the creation of a successful brand or help with the development of a strategy and assistance in its implementation? E-mail us at, and we will respond within twenty-four hours.


Best regards,

Leon The Alien


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SEE ALSO: How to properly use emoji for your brand


Images: NASA, Paramount Pictures, giphy