Business NLP Blog

The key to successful sales

by Alexander Buck and Michael Carroll

If you were to ask a group of people what the key factors for being successful in a sales position you might hear answers like; good communicator, ability to influence, a people person, target orientated, a great listener, well presented, persistence, good knowledge of product or service, adaptable to different people and situations, being able to think on your feet, a problem solver; confident, and so on.

These are all great answers, but in fact there is one answer that comes before all of these and it very much relates to a way of being. I am talking about something that if we don’t have it, it would make a job in sales virtually impossible, or certainly your earning capacity would be severely restricted. I am of course talking about motivation.

As I mentioned in my last post sales is 80% psychology and that includes very much your own personal psychology. The human mind plays a very strong role in whether we complete anything in life and the quality of our performances. When we have strong positive motivations attached to an activity or task that we are undertaking, there is much higher chance of us completing it. What happens when you are required to do something in your sales role that you dislike or reminds you of a bad memory. How can you deal with that?

You are what you are

In the role of a professional sales person your success can be dictated very much so by how you feel about yourself. If you walk into a sales presentation with a new prospect, and you feel unconfident in your abilities, or say the last presentation didn’t go too well and you are reminded of this in your next presentation both consciously and unconsciously. There is a high probability that your performance will be impacted and you could even lose the sale! This is similar to sports, when a high performance sports person seems to have a series of bad performances and commentators speculate they may have even lost their edge. This sports person will need some special techniques to stay on top of their game and so do you as a high performing sales person. I am sure you can relate to this at some point in your sales career. However, what if I told you could transform how you felt about yourself in an instant. From feeling unmotivated (for example) to feeling highly motivated, how would that feel for you?

You control your state of being

There is an area of NLP training in business that is very well suited to sales professionals. It deals with an area called ‘modalities’ and ‘submodalities’. Modalties are in essence the way we format our experience through our five basic senses – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory.

In NLP these are referred to as representational systems. Within these modalities we have five inner distinctions called submodalties. These are like blueprints or coding for how we respond to events or experiences we have had. For instance let’s say you have a memory of winning a swimming race when you were young. As an adult, when you recall this memory you’ll have associated it with pictures and sounds and feelings. Recalling the memory will almost certainly make you feel good about yourself.

Equally, you might have a memory from childhood when you were humiliated in front of the class over something you didn’t understand. Once again, in your memory recall the pictures and sounds and feelings associated with this memory will be very specific, and on recall cause you to feel not too good about yourself. How we represent our memories in our mind and body has a definite impact on how we feel about ourselves.

The great thing is we can literally reprogram this code. Before you can do this, you would need to find out what your own personal submodalities are. They are unique to you and you only, and NLP training and techniques provided by NLP Practitioners help many people to discover their personal code, and then apply this very powerful tool – to change how you feel about something, at anytime!

We won’t go into specific detail on the submodalties mentioned below, as we could probably write a book on this topic. I will however give you an insight into the area of visual submodalities.

We suggest you do the following exercise; pick two contrasting memories, one where you were highly motivated and one where you were unmotivated. Explore the submodalties for each individual experience:

• Black and white or colour
• Location of the picture (where it is in relation to your body e.g up to the right, down to the left etc)
• Distance (near or far)
• Quality of colour (is it bright or dim)
• Is the picture a movie or still (if it’s a movie what is the speed?)
• Level of focus (focused or defocused)
• Associated or disassociated with the picture? (i.e. are you experiencing the event seeing it as if you are there again or are you viewing yourself in the picture as if on a screen)

What other visual distinctions do you notice for each experience?

If you like you can explore the auditory submodalties as well:

• Location of the sounds
• Volume
• Pitch
• Ongoing or intermittent

Note the above is not an extensive list of submodalties, if you would like a full list of visual, auditory and kinesthetic submodalties e mail the office on and we will send you one free of charge.

Have you noticed the differences between the submodalties of the two representations? For some people the differences are quite subtle and for others they are distinct. What do you think would happen if you changed the submdodalties of the unmotivated representation to the ones that were present in the motivated representation? For example if in the unmotivated situation the image was dark and far away and in the motivated situation the image was bright and close, you would change those submodalities. Give it a go and find out what happens. In NLP this technique is called mapping across developed by Richard Bandler. The essence is you take the submodalties of one experience and change tem to their counter parts in an different experience.

Ongoing exploration

This is the part where you can have a lot of fun with the images, sounds and feelings you have for all kind of experiences. You can start by playing with the size of a ‘positive’ picture in your mind – from microscopic to huge. (don’t hold back – you could expand it to the size of a skyscraper/planet/galaxy – you name it you can do it). What’s important to do whilst taking part in this exercise, is to take note of your statewhen make the picture really small, and when the image Is expanded. Some people experience feelings of increased intensity of positivity when they expand the image, and the opposite when decreasing their mental image. If this is your experience, it would mean you are receptive to the submodality of size. You can explore other submodalties as well such as location of the images and sounds, the pitch of the sounds etc, find out how you do increased positivity.

I’m sure you don’t need to be told we have simplified these NLP techniques for this article, it goes a lot deeper and especially so when concerning bad or disturbing memories. So it’s best not to undertake this exercise with bad memories without any NLP training.

Back to the context of sales, you could create a situation that becomes a very powerful ally for you. No longer would you be plagued with memories of poor presentations affecting your future presentations. You can create the situation and state of mind to transform how you feel in any situation, at any time. An incredible tool for sure. In my next post I’ll be exploring the submodalities around our auditory sense.

Until then, take care and good luck!

Alexander Buck and Michael Carroll

Remember if you would like a full list of visual, auditory and kinesthetic submodalties e mail the office on and we will send you one free of charge.

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