The world of NLP is a little hazy. I’ve met people who swear by it, and others who write it off as wishful thinking. I believe that there is something to the NLP method, although I’m not sold on the mass appeal and train-ability of this. It’s a tough topic to teach in a book. Let’s take a quick dive into this.
52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 10 – The Unfair Advantage: Sell with NLP! by Duane Lakin
I was looking to read up on NLP in a professional setting. I had been given the recommendation to read “The Game” by Neil Strauss which is a book about a pickup artist but his pick up scheme is dominated by the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). I can best describe it as part subliminal messaging, part hypnosis and part mentalism. I could see the parallels between really selling yourself in the dating scene to selling yourself and your products/services in a business setting, but I wanted to find a book that really made it simple and had practical demonstrations. I downloaded the audio version of this book after a quick online search of what was available.
I’ve read a lot of self-help and motivational books as well as a lot of sales skills and leadership books, I’m not 100% sure where this book should be categorized. It has some great sales skills advice that can be implemented in person with a lot of practice and some advice about phone sales and scripts. I can see the validity in the sales scripts right away. I’m familiar with word tracks, power words and mirroring your client to make them feel more at ease. NLP can be used to encourage a particular response, in this case a YES response to whatever we are selling.
Some ethics come into play here though, at what point do we cross the line where we are “tricking” a customer into becoming a buyer? Does the NLP speech pattern make someone do what they otherwise wouldn’t want to do? Will there be massive buyer’s remorse a few days after every sale? Is this sales skill, or is this manipulation? I describe Sales as having the ability to persuade and influence a purchase decision, and I think using the right words in conversation has a role to play in that.
I believe that words have power. I believe that a better phone sales script or a better presentation for any pitch will lead to better results. Furthermore, I believe that if you take those same exact words and change your pace and tone to match the situation your conversion numbers will improve dynamically. I believe your body language can influence how likable you are. I also believe that if you are a slime-ball and purposely sell Widgets that are over priced to people that don’t need them you probably shouldn’t learn these skills. I prefer my snail-oil salesmen to rely on old school tactics, but this is America and capitalism requires supply and demand. There are thousands of products available that are destructive to your home, life or the environment and people still buy them. I’ve seen an Act by Darren Brown, (if you don’t know who this is go do your google search now http://derrenbrown.co.uk/the-core/ ), and he’s also a mixture of persuasion and influence using some of these appear to be NLP techniques or very similar. He’s upfront about what he’s doing and it still works! He’s entertaining and I’d hate to see him as a salesman. I don’t think that NLP is a bad business practice but it can be used for evil instead of good. Don’t cross that line.
If you research NLP and decide to try some techniques, do it for the right reason. Do it because your client wants to make the right decision but is a little hesitant to do so for fear of making the wrong decision. Use NLP so that you get more thank you cards and verbal gratuities. Use NLP in a scenario where customers are appreciative that you helped them to make a great decision. Tell them what you are doing, tell them that you are going to help them make the right decision. That’s a good thing, Right?