How Well do NLP Techniques and Skills apply to selling, sales, wealth-building, closing deals, and making money?

Sales is one of the absolute best applications of NLP. Yet many salespeople well-trained in traditional models haven't taken advantage of this, usually because they're skeptical of whether or not NLP would get in the way of what they're already doing. Many of them have been trained in one or multiple sales models and found that studying certain other sales models could or will get in the way of the ones they already know how to use well. It's an understandable skepticism, but it truly doesn't apply to NLP, so they're all leaving money on the table unnecessarily.

"Why Every Sales Professional Ought to Learn and Use NLP"

Some sales models that are self-contained; i.e., use this model, or that model. Salespeople often avoid learning new models, in case they might interfere with, or pollute, the results they're already getting with the model they know. These concerns are well-founded with some sales systems. E.g., Relationship selling conflicts with Urgency-based or Scarcity-based selling.

NLP-based selling isn't like that. In fact, it couldn't be further from that. Because NLP is a “process” model that enhances or optimizes everything else.

What if you could learn techniques and systems and skills... that would improve and accelerate everything you already know about selling?

NLP helps you become better at selling, often just by enhancing the way you're already selling. It's like taking what you already do and kicking it up a notch. And for those who aren't already good at selling, it will help you become a more natural salesperson, by teaching you skills for connecting more easily with people, and learning how to identify and deliver to their wants and needs – both the obvious ones, and the unconscious ones – the ones they didn't know they had.

If, however, you thought NLP is being taught or used to be more pushy with people, or to inappropriately manipulate them, then... we think you've been reading or talking to the wrong people. If all you're reading about is manipulative techniques, we believe that type of content is based on scarcity-based thinking, and on a foundation of deprivation and desperation. Neither we nor you want anything to do with that.

We believe the act of selling ought to be about helping match {A: people with wants and needs} with {B: providers} and structuring win-win transactions (regardless of whether you play the role of A, B, or even as C - a broker or referrer).

At its best, selling is about helping people get what they want and/or need, and making it easy and rewarding for everyone.

That is our altruistic focus in this article, as well as in our live NLP Sales Wizardry course.

We believe NLP can help every salesperson do this more effectively, regardless of which sales models a salesperson has learned over their career.

Some examples of sales models include: 5-P, Mental Conditioning, Relationship Sales, Personality Styles, Closing, Problem-Solving, Value-Added, Consultative, Partnering, Team Selling, Complex, Value. And there are many, many more.

Often salespeople need to combine models, depending on their unique selling circumstances.

Your performance in any and every one of these and other models can and will usually rapidly improve, with the use of NLP. You shouldn't look at NLP as replacing what you currently do in selling – think of it as an accelerator or performance-enhancer.  So, you might find it useful to think of NLP (when applied to selling) as much like:

  • the supplements a weightlifter takes to optimize his workouts
  • the spice you add to a dish to make it more tasty and fragrant
  • the grease you add to bicycle parts to make them run more smoothly
  • the dessert you offer after a dinner party to end on a sweet note
  • the charismatic social butterfly who breaks the ice and introduces everyone naturally
  • the mirror that quietly shows you your flaws – in time to do something about them!
  • the negotiator who comes in and saves dying deals

The entirety of NLP is NOT helpful to selling. You'll want to be selective in your NLP studies. Is it possible that learning NLP will hurt closing ratios?

It is possible, yes – and that would only occur if you made poor choices for what NLP material you study and what NLP training(s) you choose to attend. Because if you're not NLP-trained, and you attend a typical NLP Practitioner training, you'll be immersing yourself in largely therapeutic techniques that may or may not help you in sales. And by yourself, how would you know what would be most useful and what would be unhelpful? You won't, at least for the first few months or possibly years, if you try to figure it all out on your own.  We think that would be too costly an approach, when better, faster, more affordable and more selective alternatives are available for a fast-track to results.

You might think you can figure it all out by yourself, but many people have tried that along the way and ended up learning far too much of the material that doesn't apply well to selling. And trying things out when it counts the most, without a little wisdom about what to use and what to exclude, can lead to a reduction in your bottom line.

By significant contrast, if you attended a course that was intentionally designed to present only the specific NLP skills that would help you sell more effectively, and leave out the material that would only distract or confuse you (or be irrelevant to selling), then that will improve your bottom line.

Can't almost any NLP technique apply to selling?

Yes, and no.  Some of NLP's techniques are so grounded in therapy, you'd never want to use them in the vast majority of cases.   here are some examples of why selectivity in NLP studies and training are so important for sales and business professionals:

You'd never want to use the fast phobia cure in Selling.  After all, if any of your sales prospects are feeling intense fear around you or your products, you have much bigger problems to worry about than using any NLP technique with a prospect.

No salesperson in their right mind would use an NLP swish pattern with a sales prospect directly, but there are ways to use aspects of Swish with a prospect in a very helpful way.

No salesperson in their right mind would use "6-Step Reframing" with the vast majority of sales prospects -- but we could easily see a way to customize and simplify that technique to help resolve conflicting desires among a buying family that can't agree on what they want.

Most salespeople will never actually figure out how to use Anchoring effectively in business situations.  They just won't.  Most NLP certification trainings are now too short for people to get really good at anchoring, and even then, they rarely learn "real-world" real-time business uses, because most such trainers teach how to kinesthetically anchor emotional responses in changework.  In business and sales, you have scant seconds to anchor, and you'd better learn to get creative with anchoring, mostly auditory and visually.  I teach this; most do not.


Thanks for reading!  This entry was Part One of a series of blog entries on sales.  The next entry will list some specific examples of the skills we train in our NLP Sales Wizardry course, and how/where/why they should be learned and used.

author: Jonathan Altfeld