Perfect communication. It’s an ideal that many business owners dream about when selling a product, service, or an idea to clients.
As a marketer you want prospects to clearly understand your message, and be moved by it enough to take a desired action resulting in sales. But, as you know, this is no easy task. Even when we speak the same language there are educational, cultural, environmental, circumstantial and psychological factors that can influence the way each person understands what is being said.
In order to improve communication, many ideas and techniques have been used by advertising and sales specialists. And one that has caught traction in recent years is Neuro-linguistic Programming (NPL), an approach that might surprise you by its broad influence in so many fields, from self-development and psychotherapy to marketing and sales.
What is neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)?
NLP is a concept created by University of California (U.S.) alumni Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s. They were looking for more effective ways to improve treatment for mental illness.
Bandler and Grinder developed a process that they believed would make the use of communication channels more successful. And the secret would be a more specific understanding of human behaviour and the use of suggestive language.
The idea is to use very specific words or sentences during communication, expecting that they will have an emotional impact on your audience and, as a consequence, lead to an expected decision. No wonder this approach became so appealing among marketers, despite the fact that there is very little proof of its effectiveness.
Using neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to improve marketing and sales
Even though more research is needed, Neuro-linguistic Programming might bring some interesting results when applied to marketing and sales efforts.
Meanwhile, it will make you more aware of the importance of understanding how your message is perceived by your target audience. NLP may be the missing piece of your marketing puzzle without the use of elaborate brain games.
Accordingly to NLP specialists, the following points should be observed during your communications with clients:
How do your clients react to your product visually? Are they comfortable while examining it? Are they engaged or standoffish? How does packaging and branding aspects impact them?
When your clients talk to you, do they mention more words connected to visual impressions (“I see”), auditory (“I hear”) or kinaesthetic (“I feel”)?
Consider not only what you say, but how you say it. When you’re in client meetings pay attention to your body language, tone and voice speed. And then observe your clients’ reactions.
Meanwhile, always ask what your client really meant, or if they could clarify their ideas for you. This simple communication step will ensure there are no misinterpretations and nothing has been overlooked.
NLP is also a great motivational tool, as it supports positive thinking. “Regardless of desired outcomes, NLP ideology does offer insight into sharpening skill sets that might train salespeople on how to be more aware of conditions and clues that leads to positive results.”
Sharpening communication skills to positively impact sales
When using NLP in practice, you should always focus on the present experience, not the past ones. Only today matters.
A successful salesperson keeps an emotional distance from the present experience by understanding the difference between a person and their specific behavior toward a product or service – that is to say, you should never take anything personally.
Using an NLP technique called “anchoring”, you can create a pleasant and engaging image of your product or service in your client’s mind.
Anchoring is established through association – you might have noticed this idea being used in many ads that starts with the message “Do you remember…?” This is an attempt to bring to a potential client’s mind a happy memory, so it will be linked to their product or service.
You can also ask more subtle questions during sales meetings to discover barriers to purchase that your client might not be consciously aware of, or to re-direct their line of thought, to get the result you want.
Also, a well-known NLP technique is the use of testimonials and quotes from authoritative figures which can reinforce your message and the value of your product or service in the minds of your audience.
Using NLP to strengthen business communication
If you’re interested in improving your communication with customers, NLP is a viable option. And remember:
to keep the process updated and stay flexible. You might need to make several changes while perfecting your message.
that the better you understand your client, the faster and more efficient your communication will be.
that your own behavior and improved communication skills might make all the difference.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Luisa Brenton is a freelance writer born in Italy. Brenton graduated from The St. Louis School of Milan and went to Chicago to pursue higher education at the Chicago’s Public Research University. Luisa is interested in modern literature and new films. She is interested in journalism as well. Connect with @LuBrenton on Twitter.
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