In our last post, we took a closer look at whether hypnotism could be considered a valid NLP persuasion technique and found that yes; there are plenty of applications for this process in a sales setting. The key to understanding why revolves around identifying the difference between traditional hypnosis – which attempts to command the subconscious after luring subjects into a more receptive state (and which isn’t effective on subjects with strong analytical minds) – and more subtle approaches.
Specifically, the techniques that are most useful from an NLP standpoint are those that are tied to the theory of Ericksonian hypnosis. Instead of barging into the mind and attempting to command the subconscious, point-blank, Ericksonian hypnosis succeeds by implanting stories and suggestions that convince the subject to reach the conclusions the hypnotist intended.
Technique #1 – Isomorphic Metaphors
As we discussed in the last article on this subject, isomorphic metaphors are stories that are told with the hope that the subject will put himself into the fable and apply the lessons learned to himself. The classic example used to teach this principle in an NLP setting is the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, which is told to children to persuade them not to lie.
As this example has no bearing on the sales process, we need to come up with other examples of isomorphic metaphors that can be used to illustrate a point. One way to do this is with the story of a client who should have used your product or service in the first place. Since most prospective customers will ask you about your current clients or projects, consider saying something like the following:
“I’m working with a client now, who had hired [Competitor Name] before he came to me. It’s a shame – he’s behind schedule and over budget right now, and he could have prevented all of these costly delays if he had just come to me in the first place.”
Through the use of a story-like metaphor, you’re essentially implanting the idea into your client’s mind that he should hire you now in order to avoid the delays and extra expenses involved in hiring your competitor.
Technique #2 – Embedded Commands
The second Ericksonian hypnosis technique we discussed in our last article was the idea of “embedded commands” – statements that are innocently hidden in larger sentences, but which have the effect of nagging at the subconscious until they can be fulfilled.
This process translates incredibly well to selling, but it can take some practice before you feel comfortable using embedded commands successfully in person. To get the hang of it, practice the following phrases at home before attempting to use them in a live selling setting:
“You should work with me in order to reduce your costs by 20% or more.” (embedded command – “work with me”)
“You can relax now that I’m here to help solve the problems you’re facing.” (embedded command – “relax”)
“Read each word of this presentation, and you’ll see how I can help your business grow.” (embedded command – “read each word”)
Ideally, embedded commands should be short (think no more than 2-4 phrases) and should be spoken in a confident manner. If you warble while delivering your embedded commands, the effect won’t be nearly as pronounced – which is why it’s so important to practice these techniques ahead of time.
Technique #3 – Phrase Repetition
In order for hypnosis techniques to be effective, your prospect must be in the right frame of mind – which, unfortunately, few people are when entering a sales pitch!
Think about how you respond when you’re forced to sit through someone else’s sales presentation… You automatically become defensive and resistant – searching for any way possible to reject the person’s pitch. Since this type of mindset isn’t useful for our sales purposes, it’s essential that we get our prospects to relax before they’ll be willing or able to consider our proposals.
One way to do this is through a technique known as phrase repetition. By repeating the same fragments of speech several times, we implicitly give the prospect’s mind permission to wander – after all, if we’re already repeating things, the conscious mind can likely take a break without missing anything important. Once the prospect has allowed his mind to wander, we’re better able to address the subconscious and engage prospects on a less rational, more intuitive basis.
Consider the following example:
“We provide development solutions written by developers, for developers.”
Not only does the phrase repetition here drive home the benefits of this particular product, its meter and use of repetitive words also helps to distract the conscious mind and induce a semi-hypnotic state.
Obviously, it’s important to use caution when integrating hypnosis techniques into the sales process as tactics that stray too far into the realm of “mind control” are highly unethical. However, by employing these techniques sparingly and in appropriate situations only, you can substantially improve your chances of making a memorable sales pitch and closing the deal.
Image: Joe Dee 2010