Tag Archives: Sales

NLP Techniques For Covert Persuasion – Is It Ethical?

Today I’d like to talk about the idea of using NLP techniques for covert persuasion skills. To begin, lets address two important concerns. Persuasion, and covert persuasion.

Most people are a little bit put off when they hear the word “persuasion.” Many people immediately call to mind a push car salesman, or that guy that followed you around in that shop and wouldn’t leave you alone. Or maybe you had some sales representative who came into your home in what you thought was an initial consultation, but they literally wouldn’t leave without an order.

I don’t know if you’ve ever worked in sales, but it can be a tough business. Many salespeople work on pure commission. That means if they don’t make a sale, they don’t get paid. And after a week or two of no sales, they can get pretty desperate. Sometimes they can be pushy, rude, and obnoxious.

This is not the persuasion I’m talking about here. The kind of persuasion I’m talking about is helping the client get his or her needs met in the most efficient and mutually beneficial way. There is kind of a fuzzy line here. It is entirely possible for a skilled and ethical sales person to actually create the need and desire, and then fill it with their product.

That is how marketing works in general. When Bill Gates designed the windows operating system he pretty much convinced the world it was something they needed. There used to be only two flavors of spaghetti sauce you could buy at the supermarket. Now there are plenty. There was nothing stopping people from buying a jar of plain sauce, and then adding ingredients to it at home. But nevertheless, they created all kinds of new flavors, convinced the public that they wanted them, and now they sell very well. Many people’s favorite spaghetti sauce is a flavor that didn’t exit before.

So persuasion isn’t bad, so long as the person you are persuading is going to benefit from doing what you persuade them to do. Persuading somebody to do something may very well even create a net increase of happiness and pleasure in their life.

So what about covert persuasion? When we think of covert, we usually think of some CIA spy sneaking around, or a band of Ninja’s surrounding the house of a Daimyo in order to assassinate him. But covert means without conscious knowledge.

There are many cookbooks that show how to slip healthy food in to seemingly unhealthy snack foods for kids. For example, slipping some carrots into a grilled cheese, or putting some vitamins into a milkshake. This is covert. Done without the knowledge or express consent of the consumer. Is it bad?

Most people have an aversion of salespeople. And when a salesperson starts talking, people usually clam up. Which means they likely won’t get to experience the increased happiness and benefits of owning a new product or service. And when people put up resistance, they usually don’t think very clearly. Most of their thought processes is in protection mode, which greatly reduces their chances of seeing opportunities.

Covert persuasion can be seen as presenting opportunities in such a way to make it easy to see all of the benefits, so they can better make a decision.

Ideally, clients would walk into your shop; give you a list of all their criteria, down the finest detail. You could then input them into your inventory computer, and out would pop the best product for them.

However, people are not robots. Our wants, needs, and desires can be very vague and slippery. Sure we want to buy a new car, but which one? What is important about it? What do we want to feel when we drive our new car? Safe? Envied? Powerful?

A skilled salesperson can make a client feel safe enough to share their desires, and allow the salesperson to match their product with the desires of the customer. And that is the heart of persuasion. To show others that what you have to offer, is a match for what they want.

Doing it covertly simply means that you are not treating people like robots, and you don’t expect them to spit out a sheet of all their exact criteria. You are allowing them to be fully human, and respecting the vagueness of their desires.

And the better you are at showing them that your product or service best meets their needs, the more they will enjoy it and benefit from it. And that is a fantastic win win situation. They get their needs met, and a product they will enjoy and use, and you get to make sale and a commission.

So if you are on a journey of learning NLP for persuasion, and covert persuasion, don’t be put off by negative stereotypes of sales and persuasion. Sure there are some bad apples out there who abuse these, but when used correctly it is much better for everyone involved.

Social Proof and Authority – Powerfully Persuasive, Or Horribly Evil?

Two of the most powerful and effective means of persuasion are social proof and authority. Social proof and authority are responsible or some of the greatest marketing stories of all time and some of the most horrible acts of cruelty perpetrated by societies led by evil and charismatic leaders.

Due to hundreds of thousand of years of evolution, the human brain has developed several “short cuts” in thinking. If you were a caveman living a hundred thousand years ago, it wouldn’t have served you very well to sit back and contemplate all your options when your whole tribe was on the move. Those that had a compulsion to follow the crowd generally lived long enough to reproduce, and pass on this compulsion to their offspring. Rebels didn’t.

Despite our tendency to fancy ourselves as independent thinkers and individuals, we are very strongly influenced by group thinking. Fashion, movies, bestsellers, product endorsements all make it much easier for us to make decisions. Our modern thinking brains are the same brains that kept us alive and thriving on the plains of Africa for hundreds of thousands of years, and they still operate on the same principles, despite what modern science may try and lead us to believe.

The other factor, authority, is as equally as powerful, for the same reason. Most ancient tribes had a single leader, or small group of leaders. When they made a decision, you followed it, or you were banished or shunned by the tribe. Those that had the compulsion to follow orders from those that had demonstrable authority usually did better than the rebels.

The most famous experiment that demonstrated this was one you’ve likely heard of if you’ve studied psychology. Researchers set up an experiment where they would ask a test subject questions, and then have another test subject give him an electric shock if he got the answer wrong. (This test was performed several years ago. Today if any scientist even proposed such an experiment he would be shunned from the scientific community.) The inside scoop of the experiment was that the leader, dressed in a doctors white coat, and the person receiving the “shocks” were both in on the experiment. No actual shocks were given, and the receiver only pretended to be in pain.

The person giving the shocks, however, didn’t know this. The test was to determine just how far they’d go in listening to an “authority” figure. Much to the horror of the testers, the test subjects (the people giving what they thought were real electric shocks) went much further than anybody expected.

A huge percentage of the test subjects continued to give “shocks” despite the receiver begging them to stop. Only a small percentage refused to do so. At one point, the receiver even pretended to be having heart difficulties. Even so, shocks were still obediently delivered.

If the shocks had actually been real, and not pretend, the voltages would have been enough to kill the test subjects.

Let’s recap, just so you understand the significance. Normal, everyday people, just like you and me, were persuaded to give a potentially lethal electrical shock to a complete stranger, despite his pleadings against it, simply on the word of an authority figure.

The test designers were so horrified by the results, they made sure an experiment of this nature was never performed again.

When you combine social proof, described above, and authority, you get a persuasive message that is virtually impossible to resist. Cult leaders, dictators, and unscrupulous marketers have known this, and have used this.

Jim Jones persuaded people, mothers with their children, to kill themselves. Adolf Hitler persuaded a whole country to willingly murder six million Jews.

These two can be used together to persuade people powerfully. If you are a salesperson, or somebody that persuades others for a living, these two tools can be extremely useful, if used ethically.

When you persuade using these to influence factors in a win-win situation, you will be unstoppable. You can make more money, and attract more lovers than you ever thought possible.

However, be careful. Just the slightest bit of unethical behavior can quickly turn against you. If you use these two techniques to persuade or manipulate people against their best interests, you will soon find yourself as hated as Adolf Hitler.

Be careful.

Public Speaking for Sales, Persuasion, and Popularity

If you’ve ever had to give a speech, you know how nerve wracking it can be. What to say, how long to give it, how to begin. Should you memorize your whole speech or use note cards? What should the topic of your speech be? Informative, funny, persuasive?

If you are in sales and you have to give presentations on a regular basis, you know how tough some audiences can be. The kind of audience you give a sales presentation to is a completely different animal that your friendly neighborhood toastmasters group.

One is completely accepting and supportive, the other sits there with their arms crossed wondering what you have of value to offer them.

One way that you can deliver a powerful presentation to either group is to harness and leverage their criteria. Eliciting criteria is fairly straightforward in an individual setting. You merely need to ask the other person what they are interested in, and explore that through some probing questions.

With a large audience, however, this can be a bit more difficult. With the two different groups mentioned above, you’ll need to develop two different strategies, both involve a bit of creative thinking

With a group of toastmasters or a class at school, everybody has the same criteria: To improve their speaking. Simply by taking turns speaking you are all fulfilling each other’s criteria. This is relatively simply. If you want to supercharge your popularity at your next toastmasters group, give a speech on how to give better speeches. It’s a pretty safe bet that is what’s on everybody’s mind, so it would be much better received and appreciated than a speech on why you visit the dentist regularly.

For a sales speech, you can get a leg up by imagining what is important to your audience based on your product. Old school sales techniques dictate that you rattle off a series of features and benefits, followed by “what this means to you is…” Unfortunately that is a bit presumptuous, and can be a little off putting.

A simple way around this is to speak of your potential clients criteria in vague terms. Make statements that sound specific to your audience, but are relatively true for any given business. What do most businesses want to do?

Increase revenue.
Decrease overhead.
Increase productivity.
Increase efficiency.
Increase public image.

These are just a few, but most companies would agree to those in principle. The trick is to carefully explain why your product will do all those things for your prospective client. A great way to do this is to give examples of how you helped to do this with others.

Another very powerful way to do this is to elicit deeper level criteria. Again, this is much more difficult in a group setting, so it takes time to develop this skill. But once you learn how to do this on a regular basis, you will have astronomical closing percentages.

The way to do this is to structure your speech so that the audience is thinking of their deeper level criteria while you are speaking. One way to do this is to future pace, or getting them to imagine them in the future working with you. For example:

“Now I’m not exactly sure how you measure your efficiency, but with our services, we will work with your company, just like we have with many others, to ensure that those increases in efficiency that are specific to you. When you begin to think of the ways you’ll realize that you have an increase in efficiency, you can be confident that we have done those exact things with other companies.”

The trick is to be vague enough, and refer to the past when you’ve helped other companies do what your prospects want to do. When are vague enough, and confident enough, your clients will begin filling in the blanks on their own. Which will result in more sales for you.

Qualify Your Leads to Make Maximum Profit

I remember when I was a kid; I belonged to an explorer scout troop. It was similar to boy scouts, but all we did was go camping, and other outdoor activities. There were no merit badges or helping old ladies across the street.

Every summer we would go on these weeklong backpacking trips through the Sierra Mountain range in California. If you’ve never been to or seen the Sierra’s, they are a fantastic, almost untapped natural resource. Because it is incredibly hard and strenuous to get in, once you get in past the first few sets of mountains, you can see incredibly beautiful scenery that is completely void of any signs of humanity. Of course it is heavily protected by the Parks and Rangers, but the main reason it is devoid of humans is because it is so hard to get there.

One of my favorite parts was the fishing. The entire Sierra’s are dotted with small lakes, most of which have an abundance of rainbow trout. This kind of fishing is different form ocean fishing, either on a pier of off a boat. If you are fishing on a pier, especially a crowded pier, you don’t have a lot of options other than to bait your hook, throw a line in the water, and wait. A boat is similar, although you can pull up anchor and go someplace else, but that takes a while, and you have to have an experienced captain that knows all the good spots.

Lake fishing in the Sierras is completely different. Because the lakes are relatively small, you can walk around the entire lake in 30 minutes or so. Which means if you cast a lure out a few times along the way, you can get an idea in as little as an hour if the fish are biting in that particular lake or not. And if that particular lake is not biting, you can go to the next one over, and so on. And as a bonus, while you are fishing, you are surrounded by the most beautiful nature you’ve ever seen. Even if you don’t catch any fish, you will still enjoy yourself. I’ve always had fairly good luck; even on that day I lost several lures before catching the biggest fish I’d ever seen.

Before joining the explorer scouts, I was a member of the regular Boy Scout troop. And as a Boy Scout troop, we had to do several different kinds of fundraisers. Mostly selling stuff, sometimes magazine subscriptions, or services. Sometimes we would have a carwash, or get together with other organizations and sponsor walk-a-thons and other things. This would require going door to door to solicit donations, or sales, or get people to put their name down on a list.

The interesting thing about this is that we could always tell, within a few houses, which street was going to be good, and which street was going to be bad. After a while, we would choose a different street if the first five doors turned out to be a bust. Before we learned that trick, it was not so much fun to go up and down the street and get rejected time after time. Some people even seemed to get angry with us for trying to sell them something, or get them to participate in a community service fundraiser. This one lady was particularly troublesome.

One thing one of our Boy Scout leaders told us was the value of qualifying. He said that you always need to qualify your market before you invest yourself too much. He had a high level sales position, I’m not sure where, but he was always putting things in terms of sales and sales strategy. He said every market is a potential gold mind or a potential heartbreaker, so it pays to learn how to qualify your market before you invest too much time or energy. Some markets you can come back to later, and they will somehow have transformed from a stinker to a real winner, so it’s important never to write them off completely. Always throw out a line, so to speak, and see how they respond. As soon as they turn cold, pick up your stuff and move on.

After we applied his rules into our five houses only strategy, we were able to sell a lot more subscriptions. And that one lady, before would have been a real ego-deflating heart breaker, but because of our attitude, she was really just pretty funny. She started screaming at us as soon as she answered the door, and started saying that the government was after her and that we were spies for them and that we had better not leave any listening devices in her mailbox. We were thirteen years old at the time. As I recall, she was number four on that block, but we needed to stick to our rule, so we went on to the next house.

So after I had lost two lures, I decided to try my last one. I had a three lure per lake policy, as the weeds at the bottom of the shallow lakes liked to eat your lures. My friend would always tease me because sometimes Iost more lures than the fish I caught. One the last lure for that particular lake, I caught these huge brown trout. When you catch a fish like that surrounded by all the people free mountains and flower filled meadows, it really makes you feel good. And you like to feel good, don’t you?

Metaphors Filled with Uncertainty

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about normal everyday stuff. Stuff people usually talk about to kill time while waiting for the bus or waiting for their turn at the dentist office. Of course, you want the bus to hurry up and come, but you usually want the dentist to do something else. The conversation kind of meandered into other things that we don’t normally talk about, I don’t know if you’ve ever been involved in something like this. But as you sit there, and read this, you might begin to notice certain sensations in your body. Maybe pleasant sensations, maybe familiar sensations. Maybe some sensations that you hadn’t noticed up until now, like that feeling you have now in the lower portion of your left leg.

It’s like the other day, when I was browsing in a bookstore. It was a large bookstore, one that has over a hundred thousand titles. I happened to be in the self-development section. I wasn’t sure how I got there. I had started off in the music section and then moved on to the investing section, and then I’m not sure what happened after that. The next thing I realizes was that I was standing there reading a book about hypnosis. Now I’m not going to tell you that hypnosis is a fascinating subject, you’ve probably already come to that conclusion on your own. And they weren’t even aware of who was doing that, anyway. But one of the interesting things about hypnosis that you can use for your immediate benefit is the many ways in which it helps you to increase learnings about fascination.

Fascination is another subject that doesn’t get much attention. Sure, people feel fascinated by many things, but the actual subject of fascination doesn’t really get a lot of attention itself. Like the structure of fascination. What makes things more fascinating that other things? And some things can hold fascination really well for a long period of time, while other things are more of a flash in the pan for other ideas.

But my friend started to talk about sailing. He had recently bought a sailboat, and was planning on sailing around the world. Not really around the world, he wasn’t confident enough to venture across the Atlantic or the Pacific oceans, he was only planning on sailing down the east coast, through the Panama Canal, and then back up the west coast. I don’t know how he was planning on getting his boat back to the east coast, I guess that is a different story altogether.

But as we sat there, talking about things like those other ideas, we began to notice that some of the people around us were speaking a funny language. Almost as if we were automatically transported to a foreign country. I’m not sure if that has ever happened to you, but when you suddenly find yourself surrounded by people that are speaking a foreign language, it can be difficult to keep your thoughts in a single file line, waiting to take a number and sit patiently.

Of course, this might very well all be a jumbled mess of misplaced metaphors, but I suppose I’ll think about that later.

The Power of the Pre-Frame

The other day I went into a bookshop that I had passed by several times. I had never really stopped to look inside. It was a small bookshop, and I suspect it is family owned. Not like a large chain like the other ones. I passed by it enough that it was just in the right spot in the back of mind if I ever needed a bookshop in a pinch whenever I decided to be in that area, if you catch my drift. There have been a few new bestsellers I’ve been meaning to read, and I hadn’t go around to buying them yet. So the other day I was in that neighborhood, and I decided I’d pop in there for the first time and pick up a book I’d been thinking about getting for a while.

Much to my surprise, it was a second hand shop. Perhaps if I’d taken the time before to look in the window and check things out, I would have realized this. But there I was, standing in the middle of stacks and stacks of old, used, out of print, and other interesting books, all for under a dollar.

I used to have a friend who loved to travel, but even more than traveling, he loved to plan to travel. He would pick a destination, either a country or a city, and just completely absorb himself in planning his trip, and finding out everything one could possible find out about a destination. He would research all the hotels, all the restaurants, all the museums and sights. He would buy several travel books and participate in several online forums to discuss anything and everything he could possible think of before going on his trip.

And he invariably had a great time. He would always spend at least a week afterwards posting all of his experiences online and share his opinions about the restaurants, right down the detail of the entrée’s for each particular night.

An old roommate of mine took a sales seminar, and he said that of the several speakers, one gave a lesson on how to overcome objections. Like when people want to buy a car, and they are not sure about the color or something like that, or they are worried they won’t like the car after a week or something. He said that the best way to overcome an objection is to address it before it comes up. Of course this takes a bit of experience in knowing what objections are likely to come up, but once you can answer the objection skillfully in a conversation before you actually close, or ask for the sale, the customer almost never brings it up. It’s like when you prepare for a difficulty ahead of time in your mind, the difficulty never presents itself.

So when I realized I was in a used bookshop, I decided to look around anyways. I found a couple of older books by the author whose bestseller I was looking for that I hadn’t read yet. I decided to read these. And when I was paying for them, the guy at register asked me if I had read his latest. When I said I hadn’t he offered to sell me his copy, as he had just finished it. He was planning on selling it to the shop he worked for, and I bought it instead. One dollar.

Get to the Root of All Desire

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. He was a relatively new friend, one that I had met recently, in a bowling alley of all places. It was one of those big places that has several lanes, a bunch of pool tables, a full-blown sports bar, and a group of karaoke boxes in the back. Here when you go and sing karaoke, you don’t sing in a big room in front of strangers, you hire a private room so that you and your friends can drink and belt out tunes to your hearts content without worrying about being judges by others.

It’s interesting when you think of all the bowling alleys you can go to. Some are set up just as bowling alleys, some are set up like the one I went to above, or before, where you can get many entertainment needs met in the same place. If you go with a big group of people, you don’t all have to hang out together. You can break off into smaller groups and kind of do your own thing, and still be together in the same place. It’s interesting when you think of how many ways there are to satisfy different levels of criteria.

So my friend was telling me about his consultant he’d hired to help him start his business. He has several different products, related of course, and he needed help to figure out how to sell them as effectively as possible. This is a lot harder than you think, because when you are a business, and you hire a business consultant to help you sell as much as your product as you can, the business consultant is doing the same thing. His job, as a business consultant is to sell his consulting services to as many people as he can. And most people don’t have look very far back in your experience to find people selling stuff that is more in there best interest than your best interest.

But this particular consultant came highly recommended by many people, so he was fairly confident he was going to get his moneys worth. The consultant told him that when he attempted to sell his product, the idea was to elicit as much as the customers criteria as possible. That way, he could easily show how his product was a good match to fit the customer’s criteria. When you fit your product to your customer’s criteria, it is almost certain that a large percentage of them will buy your product.

Of course, this isn’t quite as easy as it can seem. Because many people aren’t even aware of their own criteria, getting it out of them can be tricky. This is where some really good non-confrontational conversational sales skills can come in handy. Of course if you are selling cars, and somebody knows they want a red car, it’s fairly easy. When you are selling something harder to pin down, like landscaping services or estate planning, this can be a bit more difficult.

It’s like another friend I had. She is getting close to thirty years old, and around this part of the world, if you are female and thirty and not married, that can carry quite a negative social stigma with it. So of course she took some steps to make sure that didn’t happen to her. Nobody wants to have a negative social stigma. So she went to a relationship counselor. And the first thing she asked her was what was important to her in mate. She had never really thought of this before, so she didn’t really know how to answer. It took several sessions with her coach to final flush out all of the things she thought were important.

Her coach had her put them in three different categories. Must haves, Like to have’s, and must not haves, or deal breakers. When she had her list set up like that, it became much easier to go out and meet people. She said a really interesting thing happened when she developed her list of criteria. Before, whenever she went out into a social situation, she was pretty shy, because she always thought people were judging her. But as soon as he developed her mental list, she felt a lot more power and control whenever she found herself in a conversation with somebody. It was as if guys were unconsciously trying to qualify themselves to her, to fit her list, even though she never overtly communicated it.

That was several weeks ago, and I’m guessing, since I haven’t heard from her she’s doing pretty well.

And my friend that had hired the business consult said that as a result, his sales were slowly increasing, and he is really starting to get excited about his future.

How to get Automatic Agreement in Any Situation

How would you like to easily and effortlessly create instant agreement  with anybody, anywhere, anytime? What happens when you imagine being able to walk up to a complete stranger and get them to say “yes.. yes.. yes..” and hang on your every word? If you are in sales, think of the power of increasing your person to persons sales skills, your telephone sales skills, and you presentation skills.  Is this something you’d like to learn? Is this something you’d like to be able to use at will to quickly and naturally increase your income, and not only make friends easily, but to truly develop lasting relationships?

Well it’s simple to learn, easy to remember, and so natural to use, that when you are able to take this skill that you’ve likely already been using, and use it consciously, you will be amazed at how incredibly effective it is.

Sales professionals of all kinds, door to door, negotiators, telephone sales, refer to this as the “Yes set.” Linguistically, it is commonly called “Tag Questions.”  This is how they work. After you make a statement, they invite the person you are speaking with to almost automatically, without even thinking, agree with you.

Here’s how to make them. Take any statement. Let’s try “It’s raining.”  The first part is “It’s,” which is a contraction of “It is.”  All you do is reverse it, by making it negative. “It is” becomes “It is not”. Then you change the statement, “It is not,” into a question. “Is it not?” And there you have it. Then, when you add it on to your statement, it becomes “It’s raining, is it not?” or “It’s raining, isn’t it?”

Let’s look at some more examples.

Today is sunny, isn’t it?

It sure was cold yesterday, wasn’t it?

You like spaghetti, don’t you? (The ‘do’, in ‘you do like spaghetti’ is usually left out, but you can use it anyways.)

They sure are cute, aren’t they?

This sure is a great blog, isn’t it?

You sure are going to tell are your friends about this site, aren’t you?

Be sure when you say the “question” part, your voice goes down, like you are making a statement. You don’t want to sound unsure of youself, do you?

So, how do you use this? Whenever you want somebody to automatically say “yes.”

You like it when people say yes to you, don’t you? And you can already think of many ways that you can start to use this technique every day, can’t you? And if you imagine now, what it will be like when you develop the confidence that naturally comes from getting quick and easy agreement from people, you really do realize how much easier it will be to make life fun, don’t you?