By Alan B Jones
At the outset let me simply say that my perspectives and thoughts about sales and selling stem from a study and interest in human communication and behavior. This means that if you asked me a few years or so ago what a sales process was I’d simply say that it was when a sales person ‘pitches’ their product; uses convincing and persuasive language, secures a commitment and then either secures or walks away from the deal.
I saw the process as being led – dominated – by the sales professional.
What became apparent to me was that there were some sales people I was encountering in my own consultancy who were doing something a bit different.
As an NLP trainer I was noticing the language patterns and approaches used by certain sales professionals.
They had obviously received some NLP based training and were, in my opinion, using some ‘convincer’ and ‘persuader’ statements and questions laden with presuppositions but without thought or heart. It was as if they had been given a language formula which they used ‘parrot fashion’ without understanding the elegance or beauty of the communication pattern itself.
As some of you will know NLP. is about modelling so I set myself a project to look at sales people and the sales process.
I was initially disappointed by some of the traditional ideas I was discovering; A.B.C. – always be closing and F.U.D. – fear, uncertainty doubt, for example.
Then I came across salespeople who were exponents of Sandler system and the “GAZING” process… they were talking about “listening”, “pain” and “pain points”…much more interesting.
What became apparent was that there had been a fundamental shift from a ‘sales-person centered” approach to a “client centered” or “collaborative” approach. Put another way the shift from product features and benefits to problems and solutions.
Of course for this shift to show real results there needed to be two major changes The ‘new school’ ideas not only suggested behavior changes but also shifts in the sales attitude (mindset).
A client centered or collaborative focus, with an emphasis on dialogue and problem solving requires the sales professional to engage in a sales process which is markedly different from the simple “product-benefit-cost-sale” pitch.
In many ways it does not matter which sales process you have provided that you stick to it and that it allows for a problem-finding, negotiation-based approach to providing value solutions for the customer.
In keeping with my own background in NLP (which in its early days often used ‘magic’ as a metaphor) and my interests in psychology and conjuring, I use the following mnemonics to outline stages of an ‘initial sales meeting’ and a sales process.
The Initial sales meeting is a meeting of MINDS and the sales-persons key intention should be to simply get another meeting!
A Meeting of MINDS
Meet – introduce, build rapport, listen
Inspire – trust, confidence
Needs – discover pains, goals and dreams
Define– next steps
The initial Sales Process then, needs to focus on problem (pain) identification within the context of the clients business needs and goals. It requires the sales person to inspire confidence and trust and they can only do this through the behaviors they exhibit – what they say and do. It is in the coaching of the behavioural aspects of sales training which makes NLP such a useful tool.
A MAGIC Solution Meeting
Meet – meet, build rapport
Agree– aims of the meeting, expectations
Generate -information about processes, customers needs, pains, dreams
Inspire – confidence and trust
Create/Collaborate – with customer on next steps and with own team on value offer
What the professional sales person does next, how they communicate their understanding of the client needs (pains) in the context of their business challenges (not the sales-persons), how they use the information they have obtained and offer meaningful follow-up is what really makes the difference.
NLP techniques can be used to enhance the communication skills of the sales person but do need to be linked to models of creative, solutions focused thinking. This is at the core of the current sales training and coaching we offer.
Dr Alan Jones in an NLP Trainer, Motivational Speaker and Educational Coach who has worked with a wide range of clients including international organisations, education authorities, professional training providers and individuals. He is an Accredited de Bono Thinking Skills Consultant.
He has worked with sales teams from companies like Xerox, GE Money, JAD Logic, MDG Group, Lycia Properties to name but a few.
You can find out more about his work by visiting http://www.aljones.net
Article Source: NLP and Sales – Some Thoughts