How cognitive load affects your sales.

Understand Your Buyer > How People Work > Cognitive Load


Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory.

Cognitive load is very important to you and your business.

But you may never have heard of it- and why would you have? It sounds overly complicated and scientific to actually apply to sales and selling – isn’t it just theoretical?

Cognitive Load – what is it?

Cognitive Load is about recognising the limited number of things we can pay attention to at any one time. Although we are surrounded by stimulating things throughout the day we can only pay attention to a limited few- this is in part thanks to something in your brain known as the Reticular Activating System which controls where you place your focus.

Why should you care?

If you present overly complicated or unclear information to your potential clients, thanks to cognitive load it literally may not be “taken in”. Your potential clients may simply not have enough “cognitive load” left to really understand what you are saying.

From overly complicated products to “busy” websites or marketing which lacks direction and a call to action, there are a myriad of  ways cognitive overload could be costing you the attention of your potential clients – and thus sales.

How can you overcome it?

Cognitive load is concerned with how much the brain can do at any one time.

It makes sense that by reducing this load you can capture more attention. This means you simply need to present less information at any one time to ensure it’s in a small enough “chunk” for it to be understood.

Two simple techniques to reduce the amount of information you present are:


Use steps

A worked example is essentially a step-by-step demonstration where a process is reduced to single actions, reducing the intrinsic cognitive load resulting from a complex task.

Remove distractions

Identify the necessary words, images and “things” that can be eliminated and have no adverse effect on your potential clients.


In a nutshell:

Reducing what you want to communicate to it’s most basic component parts and making it as easy to understand as possible, vastly increases the ability for your clients to understand and connect with what you do.



This advert talks about so many “benefits” that it’s not instantly clear what the. item does or why I might need it…. (sorry Dusker!)



See also

COGNITIVE LOAD When it comes to learning how to sell, COGNITIVE LOAD (taken from Practical Sales Training ™) helps you to understand you buyer behaviour which is essential to improving your sales performance and feeling more confident.
Cognitive Load


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