Selling with NLP

Selling with NLP

Christine Knott

Christine Knott

By Christine Knott, managing director of Beyond The Box, a training and field marketing company

Neuro linguist programming, or NLP, was founded by Americans John Grinder and Richard Bandler back in the 1970’s. Its origination is fascinating and its uses vast. Study of the subject will shed light on and create a greater understanding of the communication process. Considering that the key for sales is good communication it could be worth taking a look at.

Representational Systems are probably one of the most interesting areas is the discovery that everyone has their ‘preferred language’. The selected words in sentence construction will give a good indication of someone’s preferred language.
Some of us use visual words in conversation such as: see, looks; picture this, and other colourful and bright words! A visual person may say ‘Can you see what I mean?’.

Those who prefer auditory words such as: listen, hear. Sounds like, would possibly rephrase the afore mentioned sentence as ‘Can you hear what I’m saying?’. Finally a kinaesthetic phrased sentence, the third option which focuses on how we feel about something might be ‘Do you get a feel for this?’.


Listen and look out for the words people use in conversation. Do they focus on visual words, say more auditory words, or do you get the feeling they may be kinaesthetic because many verbs are integrated into the conversation.

Once you have a handle on someone’s style or can picture what their representational system may be, respond back to them by using their preferred language of words. It may not be your preference but it is unconsciously flattering to the receiver and they will also have a better understanding of the content. The benefit to any sales process is that rapport is built much faster a solid foundation for any sale.

During your sales presentation, be aware of showing pictures, drawings, processes and samples to stimulate the visuals. Allow the kinaesthetics to handle presenters, portfolios and samples, as they need to get a feel for something. Auditories are motivated by sound so be aware of the words you say, and if your sample can be switched on, do it so they can ‘hear’ the quality and pass comment on its actions.

On strategies, we adopt them for anything we do and we normally repeat them every time, for example do you clean your teeth differently every time or follow the same process? Any buyer will have a strategy for how they buy. Every salesperson has a strategy for how he sells. Try breaking the habit and match your sales strategy to your prospects buying strategy.

If you’re not sure how to do this, simply ask how they prefer to buy something and plan your sales pitch accordingly. Would your customer prefer to see a presentation, handle samples or simply have a conversation? Do they make a decision on the day, if not how long do they want to help them think about it. Following on from this is how much information they need to move them towards making a decision.

Chunking is useful as some customers are fascinated by detail in small chunks of information. Others will be interested in top line information, or big chunks. Identify which they are by monitoring and closely watching their reactions or by the number and type of questions they ask to gain more information. If you are discussing something at great length and your customers eyes are glazing over or agitation is setting in and visible, cut out the detail and start giving top line explanations, in bullet point format if suitable.

Don’t waste your time or your client’s time by discussing the detail if they don’t want it, as you could alienate them. Likewise don’t deny small chunkers of their need for detail, to do so will reduce their ability to make a decision because they don’t feel they have all the facts to do so with confidence.

A real winner is the principle of the NLP ‘meta model’, an absolute must for anyone wanting to cut to the chase in a sale when asked questions or faced with the anticipated ‘objection’. By using the tools of the Meta Model you will be in a position to identify any missing information your customer may delete from the question, or clarify any content that is distorted or could be interpreted incorrectly.

The Meta Model will help you to drill down for the information you need to be able to respond accurately and with speed to questions, objections or levels of interest. Try using the words ‘what exactly do you mean, how exactly, where exactly, when exactly, who exactly. Such questioning techniques will help locate the missing content you need.

Away from and towards is a further technique; your customer will either tell you what they do want – towards – or what they don’t want – away from. This is a great clue as to how they process information. If they are towards, for instance, focused on what they want, explain your benefits in the format of what they will get, example with us you will have peace of mind. If they are away from, gear the conversation to what they don’t want. Tell them what they won’t have to do, or what they won’t have, or get by owning your product, for example, you won’t have to worry when you buy from us.

The chances are, your unconscious mind is directing you to operate in this vein. How fantastic will your results be in the future now that you know you are aware of the tools at your disposal!  

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