Neuro-linguistic programming is a somewhat controversial branch of psychology that studies how language and neurological processes influence behavior. Its adherents state that NLP can be used to effectively persuade others.
As sales has a lot to do with persuasion, this is a subject worth looking into. To get you started exploring NLP, I present the following neuro-linguistic programming sales tips 2013.
Chunking Up and Down
Sometimes you reach an impasse in a negotiation, and no matter what, the other side refuses to budge. One NLP technique which can help in this situation is to “chunk up” the information to a broader level. You can read a short paper on the subject as it relates to mediation/negotiation in the Journal of Conflictology (yes, there is such a thing), but in plain English this basically means to “look at the big picture.”
As an example, if you are selling copiers, and are at an impasse over some small detail such as replacement toner cartridge cost, you would steer the conversation by chunking up the information towards a broader category. This could be the copier itself, copiers in general, or the benefits of having an in-office copy machine. Establish some level of agreement at this broader level to free the prospect’s mind from whatever he or she is fixated upon (the objection), and then you can “chunk down” by getting into details again if necessary to close.
In NLP, anchoring refers to the practice of getting a prospect into a strong mental state and associating something with it in order to bring that state back at some later time. In sales, this can be used to evoke a strong positive emotion and associate it with whatever you are trying to sell. This might seem to be like hypnosis, but in truth, it is just similar to how a lot of advertising works — creating positive feelings in an ad that are then brought up again when a prospect sees the item in a retail store, influencing them to buy.
As an example, you could ask the prospect to remember a time when he was really excited to get something new. As he thinks, watch for the subtle shifts which indicate that he is really getting into that state. It could be a shift in posture, raising his eyebrows, etc. At that moment, drop the “anchor”: in this case you could use an eyebrow raise yourself. Then, when you are going for the close, raise your eyebrow, and this subtle gesture will help bring back the excited feeling in the prospect, helping you win the sale.
While people aren’t computers that you can robotically program, nonetheless NLP practitioners believe that they can re-trigger emotions to a greater or lesser degree and that this can help break down barriers.
Redirect to the Present
Another method for solving a sales impasse, especially one where the prospect has gotten emotional or irrational due to some poor past experience, is to redirect the person’s attention to the present time.
For example, say a customer is disgruntled and refuses to reorder from you due to bad account management. She is “stuck” on the past bad experience. A simple way to redirect her to the present is to say something along the lines of “I understand you are upset and don’t want to order from me again. What can I do for you right now that will make things right.” According to NLP practitioners, this can get her thinking of the possibilities of the present rather than the upsets of the past, opening her up to being sold again.
Psychology is a fascinating subject, and I encourage all students of selling to also become students of how the human mind works. Then, send me your own “sales tips 2013” when you find success with something you have learned!