Get on the Inside Track – Use Neuro-Linguistic Programming to Improve Your Sales Process

The sales process involves many steps, from quantifying and qualifying leads, to building a relationship with your prospects and determining their needs. Once these things are accomplished, the final step of the process, making the sale, will hopefully occur. But what can you do for sales process improvement within your organization?

While there is no magic formula that is guaranteed to help you make sales, there are psychological techniques that can work in your favor. Our subconscious rules our conscious thought process, and by appealing to a prospect’s subconscious, you can increase the likelihood of making the sale.

A technique called Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP relies on these subconscious cues and helps put your prospects at ease.  NLP is a key factor in sales process improvement.

NLP is based on two components, the spoken word and body language. By learning this technique, you can increase your sales percentages and have the added benefit of building trust in your prospects.

So, how does NLP work? First, let’s look at the spoken word component.

The theory behind NLP is that the sales person must mirror their prospect. In terms of the spoken word, this means matching the following speech processes.

1.  Speaking speed. Listen to not only what your prospect is saying, but how quickly they are saying it. For example, if they are speaking quickly, you would need to mirror this in your return answers. If they speak slowly, you need to speak slowly. This creates a bond of trust on the subconscious level. Your prospect feels as though you understand them, and they are much more likely to continue the conversation.

2. Vocal tones and accents. While if your normal speaking voice does not include broad Southern dialects you typically don’t want to put this accent on, that doesn’t mean you can incorporate a slight change in your accent to match that of your prospect. Mirror the tone of voice that they are using. Again, this creates a symbiotic relationship in the prospect’s mind.

Now, let’s look at the second component – body language.

1.  Posture of the prospect. If your prospect is sitting bolt upright, you should follow their lead. This lets them know that you are not only listening intently, but again, that subconscious mirror will put them at ease.

2.  Hand gestures and other body language. If your prospect emphasizes certain words with hand gestures, do the same. Look at their body language and offer them a mirror of what they are doing to you. Research has shown that even couples who mirror each other have much closer relationships than couples who don’t – the same is true with sales people and their prospects.

You can also utilize matching their breathing patterns with your own, and using similar turns of phrases or buzz words that they use. While this may seem as though you are merely copying them, in reality, you are making them feel at ease.

You’ll need to practice to develop your own NLP techniques for sales process improvement. Ideally, they should not be overtly obvious. This will have the opposite effect and will put the prospect on their guard. Start with your friends and add on certain phrases or movements that mirror their own during the course of your conversation with them. This is a great way to get started on the path to NLP success.

Remember, you’re not brainwashing your prospects, or using funny psychological tricks to force them to buy your product or service. NLP is a proven technique that simply puts your prospect at ease, so you can do your job.


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