#705: How Buying Emotions Are Made With Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett | Salesman Podcast

On this episode of The Salesman Podcast, our guest, Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, talks about how a buyer’s emotions and feelings are formed in the brain, regardless if it’s positive such as happiness, or negative, such as remorse. We cover some sales training non-sense on the topic of influence and Lisa debunks a few more sales myths in this episode.

Lisa is the author of How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain.

“Your brain mixed emotions don’t happen to you. They are made by your brain for particular situations that you’re in. Your brain is always regulating your body and your body is always sending information back to your brain.” – Dr. Lisa Barrett

Emotions Under Control

When asked if we can control our emotions, Dr. Lisa thinks it is possible but hard to do so. She also talks about emotions and brain associations and what philosophers call as “reverse inference problem” where one has the answers but doesn’t know the question. 

“Your brain is basically forming categories to guide your action and create your extended emotional experience out of the sense data. So the question you’re asking me, can everyone in the world feel the same thing? The answer is, no.” – Dr. Lisa Barrett

The Body Budget

Dr. Lisa discusses an interesting concept about body budgeting. She says that our brain is constantly running a budget for our body, budgeting in terms of budgeting glucose, water, sugar, et al. Her advise for salespeople: allow your customers to mirror you through a steady, relaxing pace, rather than triggering a lot of brain functions during a sales conversation.

“The two biggest, most expensive things your brain can do is move your body like when you’re walking or getting out of bed in the morning or exercising and learning. So when you’re giving a client a little lot of information, they have to process that information and make a decision that is expensive metabolically speaking.” – Dr. Lisa Barrett

Mental Time Travel

Dr. Lisa warns against the dangers of simulating a disastrous event to create a need in your consumer’s brains, as buyers might attribute negative emotions to you. What worked for her as a customer is building relationships. One way to build trust is through an imaginary journey, this can help your client find the value in your products and become satisfied with their purchase. 

“You can invite your customer to do a mental time travel with you. I will say for myself if somebody presented their product to me as the only solution to a problematic outcome, I probably would not believe them because there is always more than one. You want to create the context for the person to come to that realization themselves that yours is the best solution.” -Dr. Lisa Feldman Barett


Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D., is in the top one percent most-cited scientist in the world for her revolutionary research in psychology and neuroscience. She is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also Chief Science Officer for the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Harvard University.


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