Category Archives: How to Sell

Happy Boy

How To Impress Nearly Everybody

One thing I’m a big sucker for is kitchen gadgets.

I like to cook, and I like buying stuff.

Once I was walking from one section of town to another, where all the taxis were. I decided to cut through a big building which contained a department store in the basement.

I was intending to just use the restroom on my way to the taxi stand. But when I came out I’d purchased an espresso machine.

As long as it doesn’t create problems (like racking up huge credit card debt) buying stuff is pretty fun.

Especially when you’ve had your eye on something for a while.

It’s cool to do research, find out all you can about something.

One thing that can ruin this experience is a high-pressure sales person.

One of the reasons we don’t like them is they try to put THEIR ideas into our heads.

Like if you’re looking at an espresso machine, for example, and some salesperson comes up and starts rattling off all the features and benefits of all the different machines.

“This one is ultra high capacity! It can produce seventeen gallons of espresso per minute, making you the star of all those coffee parties you plan on having!”

The “feature-benefit” strategy is great if the customer doesn’t really know what they want, AND they are willing to let the salesperson fill their brain with a bunch of strange ideas. (like a rapid fire espresso machine).

Unfortunately, this rarely works.

And equally unfortunately, this is the communication style most of us use.

When we meet somebody for the first time, it’s natural to want to “impress” them for one reason or another. Get them to like us.

But if you start spitting out stories (like the time you went skydiving and your chute didn’t open and you had to build a backup parachute out of your socks), they MAY be impressed, but then again, they may not.

If you mix in any kind of anxiety, trying to tell impressive stories can be pretty difficult.

Luckily, there’s a much EASIER way. A much more simple way.

One you can use no matter what you’ve done, or what you haven’t done.

And it will work on pretty much anybody.

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Structure, Content, And Pajama Wearing Elephants

Would You Mind Passing The Guacamole?

Once I had to meet a friend of mine at the last minute to play a round of golf. I was at this party the week prior, and one of my buddies was talking about how he’d recently started playing, and we should play sometime together. He’d asked me if I wanted to play the following weekend, and I said “sure, why not.” The way he asked seemed to be more like a “we should play sometime” rather than getting his calendar out and actually filling in that morning.

I figured if we were going to play for real, he’d call me during the week to let me know what our t-time was. Little did that his idea of playing golf was just to show up at the course and wait for the first available slot. He didn’t mention any specific times, nor did he call me during the week to confirm, so I was surprised when he called me at 6:30 on Saturday morning, from the golf course, asking me where I was. I suppose you get much better luck just showing up on a Saturday if you show up at 6:30 in the morning. Silly me.

One of the interesting things about language that Seven Pinker points out in “The Stuff Of Thought,” is how we humans tend to cloak our intentions behind our language fairly often. If you were to look only at the surface structure of language, we’d have a lot of miscommunication. The example Pinker gives is when sitting at the table with friends or family, we rarely blurt out “Pass me the guacamole,” in it’s the pure imperative form of the word, even thought that’s exactly what we mean.

Even in something as simple as asking for the salt or pepper among close family or friends we shield our raw intentions through vague language. If somebody took the surface structure literally when we said, “Could you pass me the salt?” We would never get the salt.

It’s amazing that misfires in communication like in my golf story don’t happen more often. My friend assumed I knew that “Lets play golf next Saturday” meant it was not only a done deal, but also it meant to show up at the course at 6:30 A.M.

Often times when we communicate, we don’t even have an intention to shield. But we don’t want to give our freedom completely over to our friends, so we attempt test out their intentions and see if we like them, or we’d like to improve on them or not. This happens frequently in the familiar “I dunno, what do you want to do tonight?” Once I spent about two hours on a date (thankfully not a first, or it would have been the last) driving around going back and forth like that.

When two people that don’t have a plan come together, not much is going to get done. When people don’t have a plan, we tend to gravitate towards a feeling of ego protection, so we tend to not want to try new things. For most of us, in order to try something completely new, we’ve usually got to specifically plan to do so, or have somebody that knows what they’re doing take us along.

Once I had a boss that wasn’t quite at skilled at oblique communication (either that or it just didn’t matter much to her). I was working on a project, and wanted her input. I asked her advice, and she said, “I don’t know. Tell me what you think and I’ll let you know if it’s acceptable or not.” Thanks for the help, boss.

Many a vaudeville routine has been built up around miscommunication, or misunderstanding of what each other is saying, the most famous being the “Who’s On First” routine by Abbot and Costello. (Recently enjoying a surge in popularity due to the president of China being a guy named “Hu”). Many jokes are set up so that the first have is interpreted one way, and the punch line is based on a completely different interpretation. Couple examples:

Losing one parent is difficult. Losing both is just plain careless.

Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas, I’ll never know.

Why did the guy keep a clock underneath his desk? He wanted to work over time.

Ok, I’ll stop.

One way to use vague language is in sales, seduction, and hypnosis. Most people are not completely aware of their criteria in these areas, what they want to buy, who they want to hook up with and how they want to solve their problems.

When you skillfully use vague language in such a way that the target of your words can fill in the blanks, even on a subconscious level, you can elicit some pretty powerful states and desires. If you’re in sales, you can elicit a strong pleasurable feeling of buying something really nice, without really getting into specifics of what that actually was. Most people would be hard pressed to describe in detail what it felt like when they bought something they really liked.

But when you artfully vague language, you can elicit those feelings, and attach them to any product you want. Likewise for seduction and therapeutic hypnosis.

If somebody comes to you with a bad habit they’d like to quit, you don’t have to specifically elicit how they got rid of other bad habits you can just elicit that resourceful state that everybody has experienced when they know they can overcome something. Everyone, through the simple fact of still being alive, has over come hundreds if not thousands of obstacles in their lives. All you need to do is elicit a few of those strategies, as well as a belief that it’s within that persons capabilities, and you can effectively transplant that strategy and self belief into their current habit they’d like to quit. All without really being specific about anything.

This entails using a lot of “structure language” rather than “content language.”

Content language:

This water has been filtered through .04-micron filters seventeen times, and then aged in walnut casks to give it a pH of 7.3, which has been shown to be the perfect pH for thirst quenching, according to the latest research. There we fully recommend “product name” water for all your drinking needs.

Structure language:

I don’t know what it’s like for you, when you feel that wonderful feeling, of cool water hitting the back of your throat, and as you easily quench your thirst with every delicious gulp, and as you feel the weight of this water in your hands (show picture of water you’re selling), you know that your thirst will be gone in a matter of moments, and you get that sense of safety and satisfaction knowing that you are in full control of your desires, and have the capability to satisfy those desires (emphasize bottle of water) anytime you want, you know that “product name” will be waiting to serve you whenever you need it.


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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Virus Of The Mind

Real or Staged?

A few days ago I was at this new bakery downtown. They had hired one of those guys dressed like a clown to stand in front and spin one of those signs around, to try and get traffic to come inside. It had caused quite a commotion, and there were plenty of people there for the grand opening. They had been advertising heavily beforehand, so they were going for a big splash on the first day rather than a slow spread through word of mouth.

I suppose that the slow spread through word of mouth marketing approach is more of a organic method, meaning they don’t really expect to have people running around town talking about their shop, it just kind of happens that way. Depending on word of mouth is a tricky marketing ploy, and I’m sure not too many small businesses rely on it exclusively.

There’s always those “engineered” word of mouth marketing plans, usually for movies, but sometimes for other things, although for movies they are primarily done on the Internet, and are referred to as “viral” marketing. A couple that stand out in my mind are “The Blair Witch Project,” and “Cloverfield.”

“Blair Witch,” although they did have several trailers in the theaters, had quite a big online presence. And “Cloverfield” took it a step further, going so far as to have fictitious myspace and facebook pages for the characters in the movie.

Another example of a “viral” marketing plan is that several million times viewed video “Where the Hell is Matt?” Now before I go bursting your bubble, let me say that the following is only my opinion, I have absolutely no inside information on the subject. Perhaps this has already been debunked in other sources, as the video is a few years old, but let allow me to share my opinion on the subject, despite how obvious it may seem.

The video is presented as a naturally occurring journey by this guy “Matt,” and whoever went along with him to hold the camera. It starts out with him giving directions to some “random” stranger to hold the camera in a specific spot, and then various clips are edited together, and whoever is holding the camera in the various spots is not clearly defined.

In many of the spots, it’s quite obvious it took some hiking to get there, and even in one place he’s underwater. So at the very least he had to enlist the support of a cameraman for more than just a few minutes.

There has been a few theories floated out there that the video is fake, and there are various special effects employed to make it appear he is in place where he really isn’t. While I don’t doubt that this “Matt” character actually went to all these places, I do doubt that it was as spontaneous as we are led to believe. I believe to be just as engineered and corporate financed as any viral movie marketing effort.

I believe this for a couple of reasons. The first is that international travel is not cheap, especially if you are winging it as you go along. It’s one thing to show up in a country and kind of make your way around, deciding each day where to go, but it’s quite different to travel from country to country in the same manner.

For one thing, not too many countries allow for a “landing visa.” This is where all you do is show up, and they stamp your passport with a 30-day visitors visa. Many countries require that you get a visa prior to visiting the country, and this requires a visit to that particular countries consulate, and in many cases an extensive itinerary, and proof of sufficient funds, as well as an air ticket leaving the country. You can’t just hitchhike down to the airport and buy a one-way ticket to some African country, for example. Before selling you a ticket, they’ll ask for to see your passport and visa.

So any trip to as many countries that were visited in that short video would require a huge amount of planning, and a lot of upfront cash to pay for all the airline tickets up front.

The story presented in the video, or about the video was some guy got laid off, had some cash, and decided to travel.

Of course, I could be totally wrong, but having been to a few countries, it’s been my experience that it requires a little bit more effort and planning than just hopping on a plane to some random destination. At the very least I believe that video was some kind of viral marketing effort backed by a big company with big money. For what reason, I have no idea. There is a blurb at the end of the video indicating some kind of sponsorship, but I’m not sure what that actually indicates.

My point in all of this is that word of mouth advertising is a powerful way to spread he word of any business, as it is much more believable and reliable than paid advertising. When we see a paid advertisement, we know they have a stake in whatever they are advertising. But when somebody that we know, or somebody that we suspect has nothing to gain by convincing us to buy some product or service, we are much more likely to believe them.

Because most successful word of mouth advertising plans are completely spontaneous and organic, it can be hard to consciously duplicate them. If you look at some popular Internet “memes” (Corey’s glasses, Chocolate Rain, Star Wars kid, etc.) which have spread over the past years, they don’t have much in common. People have tried to reverse engineer them, and then build new ones, but only with varying and seemingly random degrees of success. Even recent successful memes owe their success in large part to big media corporations picking them up and propagating them.

Even political campaigns, which try very hard to have a “grass roots” feel to them, are completely planned and engineered.

One thing is certain, thought, there are certain “memes” which spread much quicker and more readily than others, and some of the ones that have done so have literally changed the course of human history. Communism is one example. The idea was developed by some nobody in some small library, and then later propagated by a couple of opportunist politicians, and it literally changed the face of Europe within a few decades.

I suppose if it were possible to consistently engineer successful meme after successful meme, that would mean that human nature was completely predictable, and we would be at the mercy of marketers and social engineers who wanted nothing more to make us into obedient servants, like in “The Matrix.”

Luckily, human nature is not so predictable, and those that would control us aren’t always successful in their efforts. So long as videos of laughing babies and sneezing pandas spread around the world and are viewed by millions and millions of people, the human race is safe from exploiting itself into obedient slavery.


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Powerful Metaphysics

Powerful Metaphysics

How To Achieve Lifelong Learning

A Punch Is Just A Punch

Do you remember what it was like before you knew the difference between a small “b,” and a small “d”? Some adult, maybe a teacher, parent or an older brother or sister would write a bunch of squiggly lines, that were supposed to have some kind of meaning. After a period of time, they start to make some kind of sense to you. And pretty soon you knew all the letters.

After that you started to notice, or maybe it was pointed out to you, that certain letters always showed up together, and when they did they actually had meaning. Meaning of something that existed in the physical world that you already knew about. You knew what an apple was, maybe you even ate one every day. You knew what others meant when you heard the word “apple,” and you could say it yourself.

But somehow, when you first saw that collection of letters, a p p l e, it took a few tries to sound out what that word meant, and what it was referring to. After a few tries, you could look at the word and immediately think of an apple.

And before you knew it, you could look at the word apple, and you would think of an apple just as quickly as if somebody said it, or even just as quickly as if you saw a real one right here in front of you.

If you’ve ever studied a foreign language, you get to repeat this process all over again. It takes a while to get used to automatically connecting a thought to a spoken sound, and then a little bit longer to produce the sound yourself. The next step, of course, is to recognize it in written form. If you are learning a language that uses roman characters, that isn’t such a big deal. But if you are learning a whole different writing system, like Sanskrit or Chinese, then you’ve got to go through the whole squiggly line learning process. Once you’ve learned the sounds, both how to hear them and how to make them, and how to recognize a specific set of squiggly lines and automatically associate them an apple, then you’re back on automatic pilot, and can spend your precious brain resources on other stuff.

This process happens over and over again as we move from the cradle to the grave. Unfortunately, for some of us, as we get older, it happens less and less frequently. Few skills are moved from the area of total confusion into autopilot. It seems to be much easier when we are younger. And we also seem to only associate “learning” with school, and things like language, mathematics, and classical literature. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are four discreet stages of learning in the human mind. Unconscious incompetence. We don’t know that we don’t know. After we are introduced to a topic, like a new language, and we first get started, we move into the conscious incompetence. Meaning that we know about this skill, and we know that we are no good at it. This can be very frustrating if you are trying to learn something new.

After this comes conscious competence. This is when we are good at something, but we need to really pay attention to what we are doing. We need to sound out every letter to understand what the word means, or we need to turn of the radio and tell our friends to shut up if we are driving just after we got our license.

The next phase is unconscious competence. This is obviously the best part. We know how to do something, and we don’t have to think about it when we do it. We can drive while listening to the radio, having a conversation, and shaving. Many times we drive somewhere, and forget completely how we go there.

Athletes that get into the “zone” say that everything just “clicks,” and they don’t really have to think. It’s like they are merely observing themselves giving a stellar performance. Conscious thinking becomes an obstacle.

Bruce Lee described a punch three ways. He said that at first, a punch is just a punch. Then when you study a punch through the frame of Jeet Ku Do, a punch is a complex movement of breath, body, energy and intention. After you skillfully master those elements, a punch is just a punch again. An altogether more effective and potentially deadly punch, but to the conscious mind, it is just a punch.

The great promise of the human mind is that you can learn any skill to the level of unconscious competence. You can easily learn to do anything without needing to think about it. There are literally thousands of things you’ve already learned to do in your life, where you moved through this process. Things that at one point in your life, you didn’t even know existed, but now you can do them without a thought.

So what skills would you like to have? Powerful public speaking? The ability to walk up a woman and sweep her off her feet within moments of meeting her? The ability to write a sales letter that will convert fifty percent of its readers? Artistic talent? Gold medal sports skills? The skill to look fear in the face and still have the courage to act?

When you learn the structure of learning, it becomes much simpler to make learning life long habit. You don’t need to sit in boring classroom, or study boring textbooks. With NLP, or Neuro Linguistic Programming, you can break any skill you want to learn into easy manageable tasks. NLP studies the structure of learning in such a way that you can model others who are performing at levels that you’d like to be at. You can basically reverse engineer their skill set, and make it your own.

While it’s not magic by any means, it can seem to be if you are stuck in the idea of learning the traditional, classroom way. With NLP you are able to explode your potential, and turn yourself into a life long learning machine, someone who will always be growing, and always be improving.

For more information on how you can use NLP to powerfully enhance every aspect of your life, click on the banner below for more information.

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

How To Use Gestures For Powerful Influence And Persuasion

Anchors Away!

There used to be this Russian guy. Some kind of scientist. He was studying dogs; maybe you’ve heard of him, his name is Pavlov. While many people understand on a basic level what it is that he discovered, most aren’t aware of the potential this simple principle presents to use in your daily conversation for powerful influence and persuasion.

He was studying something about dogs and their saliva. I’m not exactly sure why he was studying saliva, perhaps it was some new blend of vodka or something. Who knows. (I’m sure many people do, just not me.) But he discovered something accidentally along with his study of saliva.

He would ring this bell, and bring the dogs their dinner, and then he would take some of their saliva samples, as their mouths would start watering when the food came. Just like the rest of mammals do, including people. To say something is “mouth watering,” means it smells and looks good to eat. It is simply the body’s way of preparing for what is coming, much like any automatic responses of our physiology to our changing environment.

But then he noticed something very interesting. He would ring the bell, but wouldn’t bring any food. And the dogs would still salivate. Their mouths would still water. Now obviously, there is no reason that any animal should have an automatic mouth watering response to a bell, so what happened?

What he did was to “train” the dogs to respond to a different stimulus than the food. At first, the dogs smelled food, and their mouths watered. Then he would ring the bell at the same time as the food, and their doggie brains made the automatic association with the sound of the bell, and the good. Pretty soon, the sound of the bell was all it took. It seems that dogs, as well as humans, have a function in our mammalian brain that makes it easy to adapt to our environment, by learning new automatic responses to outside stimuli.
Those of you that have ever fallen in love know the massive rush of endorphins that comes when your lover or partner says your name. Had you met the same person anytime before, while they were still a stranger to you, them saying your name wouldn’t nearly have as profound an effect.

So how do we use this automatic response characteristic for covert persuasion and influence?

First, you’ll need to carry around a plate of food, and a bell.

Just kidding.

Seriously, this is very easy to do, and once you understand this simple concept, you’ll have lots of fun watching politicians give speeches, and you’ll be able tell who understands this simple concept, and who doesn’t really have a clue. (Hint: President Obama, despite having a commanding presence and being a charismatic communicator, doesn’t have a clue when it comes to this simple technique, while president Clinton understood this very well.)

First, you’ll need to think of some things that most people will think of as being very good. Money, sex, going on vacation, winning the lotto, falling in love, etc. Just keep a mental list of universal experiences that you would have to be a psycho not to thoroughly enjoy.

Next, you’ll need to develop a list of a bunch of things, universal experiences, that you’re pretty sure people would rather avoid. A meeting with the I.R.S., alimony payments, an angry boss at work, telemarketers, etc. You shouldn’t really go to negative, as you can easily ruin somebody’s mood, and destroy any chance of persuasion if you bring up things like rape, genocide, murder, etc.

Now you’ve got your mental list, you’re ready to start training your mark, or target of persuasion, just like Pavlov trained his dogs.

Whenever you mention something that people will generally get good feelings about, motion off to the side with your right hand. Whenever you mention something (briefly) that generates unpleasant feelings, motion off to the left with your left hand. The more you can set up these “triggers” the better. It’s also better to space them out through a conversation. Hit a few good ones, then a few bad ones.

Another way to do this is to just listen to the other person talking, and pay attention to when they bring up something that makes them feel good. Just describe it back to them, while motioning off to the side with your right hand. Likewise, if they mention anything that causes them stress or anxiety, simply describe that back to them (sympathetically, of course) and motion off to the side with your left hand.

Ideally, you’ll want to use both universal experiences (good and bad) and their own unique set of good and bad experiences. If you don’t this properly (and don’t worry, this is really easy) you’ll have “set” your right hand to be good things, and your left hand to be unpleasant things.

If you are sales person, use your right hand when describing your products, and use your left hand when describing your competition. Whatever you want your client to attach good feelings to, emphasize it with your right hand. Whatever you want your client to feel aversion to, emphasize it with your left hand.

When you watch politicians speak, you can quickly tell who gets this and who doesn’t. Sometimes, it’s clear they are using their gestures congruent with their words, but usually they aren’t. A great example is the Clinton-Dole presidential debate from a ways back. Whenever Clinton mentioned something positive (good economy, peace, lower taxes, etc) he would quickly point to himself, by touching himself briefly on the chest. Whenever he mentioned something negative (war, taxes, etc) he would quickly, but clearly motion towards Dole.

This method of setting and using “anchors” comes from NLP. NLP is a set of strategies for powerful influence, and powerful self-development. If you at all interested in either of these, then have a look at the program below. Many people have discovered this is a great starting point to a life filled with personal development and achievement.

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

How To Unleash Your Powerful Potential

Why You Should Study NLP

Have you ever been window-shopping, and maybe decided to venture into a store to get a better look, and one thing led to another and you ended up buying something that you hadn’t set out to buy that day? Or maybe you were kind of in the market for something, like maybe a TV or something, and weren’t quite ready to make a purchase, but you came across a salesperson that somehow seemed to make buying a TV that day the most obvious choice in the world?

We’ve all had the experience of being hounded by a salesperson that just wouldn’t take no for an answer, and know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of hard sell after hard sell. You know a salesperson is desperate for a sale when they relentlessly follow you around despite your clear indications for them to take a hike.

So what’s the difference? Why does on salesperson seem to be helpful, and when you do make the decision to buy something, you feel grateful and want to tell your friends about him or her, while other sales people, they just emit an aura of desperation that triggers every single one of your warning signals?

Or more importantly, if you are trying to persuade somebody, whether it is in direct sales, marketing, or other form of persuasion, how do you be the first salesperson and not the second one?

Most people will tell you that being able to sell things is a natural gift that you either have it, or you don’t. Like a guy being a “natural” with women, wherever he goes, women follow. And no matter how hard you try to emulate him, you just can’t figure it out.

Part of the problem with so-called “naturals” is that they themselves have no idea how they do what they do. Unless they’ve gained their skills through long concentrated practice, they likely have no clue what makes them such a persuasive and charismatic salesperson. And unfortunately, many books on sales are written by these “naturals” and aren’t all that helpful, as they don’t really know how to describe what they are doing in a way that makes it easily repeatable by others.

They may say things like “respect the client,” “develop rapport,” “be sincere,” but these are particularly vague. How exactly do you “respect the client?” What is the best way to “develop rapport?” if you ask ten different successful salespeople these questions, you’ll likely get ten very different answers, which will likely be just as vague and unhelpful.

Enter NLP.

NLP, or neurolinguistic programming was developed as a powerful modeling tool to figure out exactly what these “naturals” were doing that made them “naturals.” It all started with therapists. Most people, when they think of therapy, they imagine going to a shrink every week for many years, and talking endlessly about childhood problems and parental issues (like Tony Soprano). But when NLP was first developed, they studied a few therapists that could “fix” people in just a few sessions.

Somebody would have this deep emotional problem, they’d go see one of these “naturals” and in a couple of weeks, through three or four sessions, their problem would be completely obliterated. And these weren’t your basic problems like not being able to smile at a pretty girl, or ask your boss for a raise. These were deep emotional problems that had to do with sexual abuse, alcoholism, and other serious relationship issues.

So how did they do it? The interesting thing is when one of the co-founders of NLP, Richard Bandler, showed one of these therapists her specific language patterns, she was surprised. She herself didn’t even know that was how she was doing it. Bandler basically showed her that she was using the same language structure over and over again with her clients, and it was creating magical results. Much better than that stereotypical image of a useless psychiatrist who just sits there and says, “how do you feel about that? What do you think that means?” over and over again.

Through the creation of NLP, people were suddenly able to model excellence in human behavior and human communication. By asking the right questions, and paying attention to the specifics of the communication structure, they were able to figure out exactly how those “naturals” were doing what they were doing.

And a major part of their “natural” abilities was a strong belief about their capabilities. This went far beyond affirmations in the mirror every morning. This was a deep, powerful subconscious belief that they totally capable of doing what they were setting out to do, whether it be curing a child of his bedwetting, or selling a fifty thousand dollar car to somebody who was merely “looking around.”

There were subsequently several method and procedures developed in NLP to install these beliefs in people, or for people to install them in themselves. It became possible to become a natural without experiencing the random childhood that produced a natural salesperson or therapist. As Richard Bandler put it, with NLP, it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

There is a huge amount of free NLP information available on the web, and there are several great sources of self study NLP courses, as well as NLP based self development products. With NLP, there really isn’t any reason why you can’t be a natural in your chosen field.

One powerful program that many people have been having massive results with is success with NLP. If you check out this website, you’ll find that this is just one of the many programs that uses NLP to help you become successful in any field you choose.

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

One thing about studying NLP is that it is by no means a “quick fix.” Many of our beliefs that we’ve been carrying around for a while can take some effort to re engineer, but once you do, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in life. Take a look at success with NLP and see for yourself.

Many people discover that once they start down the path of self-development with NLP, they realize that the sky really is the limit, and studying and mastering NLP becomes an obviously essential skill of life.

Social Manipulation Or Shrewd Marketing?

Beware The Door Buster

I was waiting in line down at this new electronics shop last weekend. They had this massive grand opening, and they were going to give away this really cool flat screen TV along with a home theater system. They said they’d give out free raffle tickets to the first five hundred people that showed up, and then they’d draw later on in the afternoon to see who won. The catch, of course, was you had to be there to claim your prize. And since they gave out the free raffle tickets at eight o clock in the morning, they were assured that five hundred people would not only likely buy something that morning, but make plans to come back later. Marketing plans like this are fairly obvious. Give somebody a gimmick to get them in the door, and then do your best to up sell them while they are there.

Car dealerships are notorious for doing this. They’ll run an add in the paper for a certain make and model for a ridiculously low price. Of course they’ll say in the small print that there is only one particular car at that price, you can tell as they list the VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number of the car in question. Sometimes they’ll have three or four at that price. People see the ad, and mistakenly believe (to the hopes of the dealer) that all of the cars are at that price.
Then when they show up, they’re told they all sold out. When that happens, the dealership has two powerful tools of influence naturally working in their favor.

The first is something called “Commitment and Consistency,” as pointed out in the often referenced “Influence, Science and Practice,” by Robert Cialdini. When people make a public commitment, they are much easier to be persuaded to do something that is along the lines of that commitment. Political campaigners know this. When they phone people the week before an election and ask them if they are going go out and vote, most people naturally say yes. Since they’ve made a public commitment, even to a complete stranger over the phone, they are much more likely to vote than the average citizen who hasn’t made such a commitment.

By going to the car dealership in search of a good deal on a car, you make a certain commitment. It’s not like the car salesman pulled you in cold off the street.

Another powerful factor they have working for them in this case is social proof. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, we humans are pack animals and are extremely susceptible to crowd behavior. We love to follow fashions, stick to the status quo (unless you are a singing basketball player), and follow the crowd. So when you show up, and the car you wanted is “all sold out (all one of them),” it gives the impression that many people are after the same car, which makes it more desirable.

So by putting those cheesy ads in the paper, and getting you to make a trip to the dealership, just by showing up you have two powerful forces of social influence guiding you to buy a new car.

It’s no wonder that stores use the same tactics. They work, and they work beautifully. Stores use them so much because they work so well. All those incredibly insane “door busters” that you see the day after Thanksgiving, or black Friday, are carefully designed instruments of social manipulation. In case you are unaware, the reason it’s called “Black Friday” is in reference to the black ink bookkeepers use when they are making a profit. In this case black is very good.

To make matters worse, sometime they’ll have free giveaways, but the “winner” is actually a ringer. A plant that works for the store. Even though this is clearly immoral and unethical, it’s pretty hard to uncover and prosecute. The only danger lies in a store being found out, and it’s business getting a bad reputation. Even when people have a suspicion that the winner may indeed be a “ringer,” they still line up, “just in case.” We humans can be terribly easy to manipulate sometimes.

If you can figure out a way to get the free stuff, without giving in to the temptation to buy whatever they convincing you to buy through their masterful social engineering, so much the better.

One thing I usually do in a case like the free TV giveaway is only take five dollars with me, and leave all my credit cards at home. That way even I’m persuaded by the slickest of salesman, I won’t be able to buy anything. Hopefully by the time I race home to get my credit card, I’ll stop and wonder if I really do need that beef jerky machine. It’s not like I eat beef jerky every day, or even once a week. Why in the world do I need to cook the stuff?

So as I was standing there in line, looking at all the awesome electronic gadgets that I would surely buy if I were rich enough, I started talking to the guy behind me. He was involved in several MLMs and told me places like this were a great opportunity spread his business. People were surrounded by all this stuff that they wished they had enough money to buy, so naturally they would be open to opportunities to make more money, at least in principle. This guy said that he had great success recruiting people for his “downline,” at these “free” offerings. He scans the paper every week, and goes to as many as these as possible. He said the best time is right before the actual drawing, when people’s interests are the highest.

He said he was kind of “piggybacking” on the social manipulation of the business. He would show up in the morning, talk to a few people in line, and not mention anything about his business. Then he would come back that afternoon, strike up a conversation again with the people he already met, like he was an old friend. Then while the excitement and expectation was high, he would slowly ease the conversation into his well-crafted sales pitch.

He said that if he only gets one person per “giveaway,” then it is well worth his while, because in the long run, each person that joins his “downline” is worth potentially thousands of dollars, if not more.

And, of course, I didn’t win the TV, and I bought this cool little vacuum cleaner for my keyboard, that plugs into my USB port. And a new computer mouse, because my old one, was, kind of, you know, needed replacing. Or something.

Leverage Criteria For Ultimate Power

One of the most powerful ways to easily persuade somebody to your way of thinking is elicit and leverage criteria. Everyone you will ever meet is a walking talking collection of unmet wants and needs. And for most people, most of these unmet wants and needs are sufficiently vague so that you can easily leverage them to your benefit.

Be careful though, you can easily misuse this power to trick them into doing something or buying a product that is against their interests. If you do this, then woe be unto you.

So how do you elicit criteria? Simple. Once you establish rapport, and generate a sufficient level of comfort, just ask them what’s important about something. Be sure to ask respectfully, and with genuine interest. Most people are a little bit shy about talking about their deep desires and criteria, and will quickly close themselves off to you if they smell any amount of incongruity.

For example, let’s say you are on a first date with a girl. Or maybe not even a first date. Maybe you are just talking to her at a party or a bar. You look around, comment on all the single people. Say something about how hard it is to find the right person for a relationship. If she agrees, then that’s good. It’s usually good to go first, and reveal a little bit about yourself first.

So you mention something about your relationship (make sure not to say anything bad about anybody) mention some of the good things, and mention something more that you were looking for. For example, you could say that your last boyfriend or girlfriend was a good friend, and a good conversationalist, but they really didn’t like to travel. They were a great guy/gal, but they weren’t as adventurous. So you needed to move on. Being adventurous is important to you.

Then you ask the person you are talking to about what is important to them in a relationship. It’s key to make sure to agree that whatever they say is important.

Then ask what is important about that? For example, if they said they want to meet somebody with a good sense of humor, casually ask what they find important about that. They may say that they want somebody that can laugh at themselves. Somebody that doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

One of the great things about this is that just by talking to somebody about what is important to them, they will subconsciously start to think of you in those terms, provided you have enough rapport. If you do this several different times, they will really start to develop deep feelings for you.

Another example.

Let’s say you are selling long distance plans. You get somebody on the line, get them talking, and ask them what long distance they are currently using. Instead of jumping right into switching them, like most people do, ask them what they like about their current plan. Ask them what is important about those things that they like. Be sure to agree with whatever they say.

Lets say they mention they like that it is part of their current bill. And you ask them what is important about that (make sure not to sound like you are going to convince them that it shouldn’t be important, agree with whatever they say). They will say something like they don’t have to worry about two separate bills. It’s easier that way. They don’t have to worry.

Then simply convince them that with your new plan, it is totally simple, and they won’t have to worry. Just let them know that it will fulfill their existing criteria, and will save them money.

This can take some time to get down, so that you can use it conversationally, but when you do you will realize how powerful this is. You will notice a significant increase in your sales and your ability to conversationally persuade and influence others.

Beware Of Covert Persuasion

Three Types Of Sales

If you’ve ever bought a car, then you are familiar with something called “sales resistance.” As soon as the salesman or saleswoman came walking up to you, your defenses automatically went up. Another name for this is “conscious resistance.” It is widely believed that one of the functions of the conscious mind is to prevent extraneous and harmful ideas from invading our brains. To protect us from getting duped.

There is lot of information regarding the so-called “conscious” and “unconscious” mind. Sometimes the second is referred to as the “subconscious” or the “non conscious” or even the “other than conscious.” Talk about these things can tend to get fairly esoteric and metaphysical in a hurry, which can be less than helpful if you are looking for a specific solution to something. Think of your conscious mind as things that your brain has decided that you “need to think about” and the unconscious (or whatever else you want to call it) everything else. These things you’ve either done them enough times, or God or Mother Nature has decided through evolution that we needn’t worry about these things.

Your heartbeat, your breathing (most of the time), driving to work, scratching your nose, that memory of that time back in third grade when that girl did that thing that you thought meant one thing, but really meant something else. All of these are considered “automatic” and no needing conscious thought, until something specifically calls them to mind.

There’s nothing mystical or metaphysical about it, it is just a conservation of brain bandwidth. If you had to think about all those things, all the time, you’d go nuts, and end up in the corner babbling to yourself. Maybe there were some people who walked around holding all those thoughts in their minds all the time, but they likely were to busy thinking about all those things to reproduce, so there genes didn’t get passed down.

The commonly accepted belief is that we can pretty much hold between 5 to 9 things in our conscious thought at any given time. Once something new comes in, the oldest one drops off into unconsciousness. It’s still there in our brains; it’s just that we don’t access it because our brains have decided it’s not important enough to keep in our memory.

There are plenty of cases where witnesses to crimes supposedly couldn’t recall certain events, but under hypnosis they were able to come up with enough information to help get a conviction.

Back to the approaching car salesman. As soon as you see him coming up, your brain goes into defensive mode. He represents a threat, because his overt intention is to get you to give him a bunch of money. His job is to convince you to believe him enough so you’ll hand over a stack of cash (or sign a lengthy finance contract) based solely on his description of this item for sale. Since this represents quite a large amount of money, or resources, you are on high alert, as there is a potential for serious damage.

Those 5 to 9 things that you can hold in your brain suddenly are cleared and room is made to scrutinize his offer with as much brain bandwidth as possible. You suddenly forget what you want to eat for dinner, that report that you were worried about that you forgot to write before you left for work on Friday, and which of your kids’ friends house he wants to sleep over at tonight.

If you’ve ever sold anything, and felt that huge anxiety that comes with trying to persuade customers, this is why. They are looking at you with much more scrutiny that most people face. Even public speaking, while terrifying for many, doesn’t involve as much scrutiny as trying to sell somebody something. Especially a big ticket item like a car. Unless you are selling from the podium, there’s a good chance that while most of your audience is sitting there politely listening to your speech, they are also planning their shopping list, wondering what to buy their boyfriend or girlfriend for their next birthday, and so on.

The whole of sales strategies is designed and developed to overcome this “sales resistance” and convince the customer that they would be better of giving you their money in exchange for something than they would be to keep their money and get nothing. This can be incredibly difficult, but if can also be incredibly lucrative if you can figure out a way to do it consistent. There are three basic strategies that sales people use.

The Hard Sell

This is the most belligerent of the three. The salesperson hammers away at the prospect, and through brute force of willpower, overcomes the potential buyers resistance. This is the most confrontational, the most anxiety producing, and requires the most amount of mental energy. This is why most normal people loathe going to a car dealership. They fear, many times rightly so, that they will be hammered until their resistance is futile, and the best choice is to accept the salespersons offer, and then slink home, convincing themselves they made a good deal.

The benefits of this, from a sales perspective, is that most people really don’t have that strong of a resistance. After only twenty minutes or so, most people start to show signs of starting to cave.

The drawbacks are obviously a huge amount of stress and pressure, which can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, not to mention to coping strategies salespeople are commonly known to adopt to deal with this stress, like smoking or drinking.

The Logical Sell

This is just laying out the features and benefits of your product, and hoping the customer decides to buy your product. Many times people that use this strategy are referred to as “order takers” because there’s not a lot of persuasion going on. Most retail outlets rely on this method. Give the customer as much information as he can handle, and hope he buys your product.

The main benefit of this is this is not confrontational in the least. Even if the customer decides not to buy your product, he will likely remember you as a helpful and friendly salesperson.

The main drawback is you likely won’t make a great deal of money using this strategy. You may very well eke out a living, but in most cases the pay is not that spectacular. Jobs that are highly paid that use this method are hard to come by, and usually involve working for a company whose reputation is doing a lot of the convincing for you. In order to make money this way, you need to get yourself in front of a lot of prospects, which can produce stress and anxiety almost as much as in the hard sell scenario described above

The Covert Persuasion Method

This is by far the most lucrative, and causes the least amount of stress and anxiety. This is based on the idea that all decisions are made on an emotional level, rather than a logical level. And by structuring your communication to elicit the proper buying emotions, the sale is easy. Probably the most surprising thing to most people is that you don’t really need to talk about the product at all to elicit the customer’s buying emotions. This is why it is referred to as covert persuasion.

The main drawback is that this takes quite a lot of face to face practice, and requires a lot well developed skills, like reading body language, facial expressions, using specific language patterns and using your mannerisms and gestures in specific ways.

There are a few people that are really good at this, and they make tons of money, and work a lot less often, and lot less hard than most people. If you’ve ever wandered into a store, not really sure if you wanted to buy something, and just from asking a few questions, and getting a few answers, you felt really compelled to buy something, you’ve likely experienced at least one aspect of covert sales.

Any method that is designed to move your emotional mind, rather than your logical mind, is using these methods.

These are much easier to do in a TV commercial, or a well-crafted newspaper or magazine add than they are face to face. The difference is that ads you see on TV are designed to hit the emotional hot buttons that we all have, like sex, safety, belonging to a group, etc.

To use these face to face, you need to elicit the individual hot buttons of the person you are speaking with, and then covertly fire them off while talking about your product, and then covertly connecting those emotional hot buttons to your product or service.

If you want to have some fun, next time you see a particularly persuasive ad on TV, try and figure out what emotional hot buttons the writers were trying to hit, and how they did them. Be careful, because many times their intention is only that you remember their product name, so next time you are in that market for that particular product, theirs will be the first one you think of. If that happens, they’ve successfully snuck their products name past your conscious resistance.

Be careful. It can be disheartening to discover that a many of your decisions and desires were covertly put there by skilled advertisers.

The best defense, of course, is a good offense. Before you buy something, make sure you have a clear, logical reason, and that it satisfies your criteria that you decided on before going to the shop or the dealership or website.

The Power Of Influence – Tool Or Weapon?

Do You Know When Your Strings Are Being Pulled?

There are two laws of influence that can be used in a particularly powerful combination. These two laws have been identified by Robert Cialdini in his bestselling book, “Influence, Science And Practice.” If you are interested in influence at all, and would like to either become better at it, or just to understand how pretty much everybody around you is using these techniques, you should read this book.

There is a vague belief that persuasion is kind of an “art,” and that people that are good at it are like musicians or painters who are born with some natural talent. But Dr. Cialdini has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that persuasion is indeed a science, rather than an art. A science that can be learned and applied either to benefit an individual, a company, or the leader of a nation.

There are several examples of how these principles of influence have been used without much concern for ethical considerations, but they still work nevertheless.

There is one fantastic example that comes to mind, which I’d like to share with you today. This was illustrated in “Influence.”

The first principle this involves is one of “commitment and consistency.” This is the idea that people are much more willing to do something if they have already publicly stated they will something, or have done something before that is similar.

A great Internet example is “click through.” If you visit a website of somebody trying to sell you something, you’ll likely have to click through several different pages to actually get to the point where you type in your credit card number. The reasoning behind this is people are much more likely to take the next step if they’ve already taken several previous steps.

If you land on some web page, and read some advertising text, and there is a button at the bottom that says “Buy Now!” The percentage of people that click on it is fairly low. But instead, if you shorten your sales page, and on the bottom is a button that says, “Click to Read More!” You’ll get much more people clicking through. Once you get visitors to click through three or four pages, they’ll be much more likely to click on a “Buy Now” button.

Another example is in jury trials. When they finish a trial, and the jury convenes they will often conduct a “straw vote” meaning that just give their first impression, guilty or not guilty, before the jury starts to discuss the case. Here’s the interesting part.

In jury deliberations where each juror publicly states, out loud, whether they feel the defendant is guilty or not guilty, the deliberations last more than twice as long as those where they jurors submit their initial guilty or innocent vote via anonymous slips of paper.

When people state their opinions out loud, they are much less likely to later change them. But when they submit their opinions in private, on an anonymous slip of paper, they later change their minds rather easily.

Another principle is one called scarcity. I’m sure you are well aware of this. Limited supply. Sale only lasts for two days. Only the first one hundred customers.

Study after study shows that people will give something a much higher value when they think it is scarce. A group of researchers did an experiment where they had people sample a cookie. In one case, they convinced the samplers that there were plenty of cookies, and the test would be going for quite a while, etc etc.

Then they told a different group of testers that the cookies were a limited batch, and it was a recipe that was only being tried out for a short period of time, and the testers were lucky to be in on the experiment. Keep in mind the testers or samplers were never sold anything, so there was no buying pressure.

The results? The samplers who were told there were many more cookies of the same kind gave it an average rating. The testers who were told that it was a small group of cookies, and they were a select group of testers gave it an excellent rating.

But they were the same exact cookie. Simply by telling people it was scarce, it made the cookie taste better.

Now for the powerful, Christmas time combination. I have no idea if this still happens today, but this story was illustrated in “Influence,” the book I mentioned previous.

There was a toy manufacturer. They made a toy, and put all kinds of TV commercials on, directed at little kids. They used all kinds of marketing tricks, mainly scarcity. Only a limited number of dolls made. Get yours today. Everybody wants this doll for Christmas.

Only when the parents went to the store to get the doll, they were all sold out. So they had to get a substitute gift for their kid. Then, a couple months after Christmas, they somehow found a hidden warehouse filled with these dolls. Of course, the kids saw this, told their parents, and their parents were pretty much obligated to buy the toy, as they had promised to buy it at Christmas but couldn’t find it.

Here’s how it works. Kid sees toy, bugs parent. Parents promises kid to buy them that particular toy. When buying time comes, toy isn’t available. Parent buys replacement gift. Two months later, toy reappears. Kid says, “But Daddy, you promised!” Daddy now has to go and buy gift.

Simply by manipulating the supply of the toys (scarcity) to increase demand, and depending on commitment and consistency (Daddy, you promised!) the toy company was able to double it’s Christmas sales. They sold a slew of replacement gifts (jacked up in price because of daddy’s guilt for not finding the promised toy) and then again a couple months later, when the original gift magically appeared, they had an increase in sales when all their competitor were suffering from a post Christmas slump

The beauty (or evilness, depending on how you look at it) of a plan like this is that this is almost impossible to defend against. What parent is going to tell their child they can’t have what the TV has said every other kid is getting? What parent is going to break a promise to their kid?

Everywhere you look, there are advertisements developed by companies who know and apply these principles on a daily basis. It helps to understand these principles so that you can use them yourself (in an ethical, win win scenario, of course) and to defend against them when they are used against you.