Monthly Archives: February 2012

Lessons in Persuasion from the 2012 GOP Candidates

As you might expect, political primary campaigns are rife with examples of the nation’s highest ranking politicians making use of classic NLP techniques in order to advance their agendas and persuade voters to sympathize with their positions.  Considering the tremendous amount that’s at stake during these campaigns, politicians and their staff members often utilize any technique that might help give them an edge in a competitive caucus or primary election.

Today, we’ll dissect a few of the most interesting examples in order to see how NLP techniques can be applied across a national scale:

Mitt Romney and Health Care

One of the major challenges facing Romney’s 2012 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination is the 2006 Massachusetts law he championed that required nearly all citizens to obtain health insurance or pay a tax penalty – a bill that’s strikingly similar to the “Obama care” policy most Republicans oppose.  Romney’s challenge, therefore, is to distance himself from accusations of supporting “socialized medicine” without appearing to “flip flop” on the issues that matter to the conservative base.

In a stroke of genius, Romney offered the following statement in the January 26th debate in Jacksonville, FL:

“If you don’t want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill, because under federal law if someone doesn’t have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. So we said, no more, no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility. Either get the insurance or help pay for your care.”

Romney’s statement highlights the power of an NLP technique known as “conflict integration”, in which two competing, incongruous ideas are rationalized in order to prevent cognitive dissonance from occurring in the mind.  Cognitive dissonance is especially dangerous in the minds of voters, as unresolved feelings of conflict can lead to overall negative impressions of a given political candidate.

In this case, Romney has taken two competing ideas – both that he has supported similar legislation in the past and that he does not support Obama’s implementation – and rationalized them through the use of a third variable.  By spinning the health care debate in terms of personal responsibility and by framing the topic in light of the Republican push for smaller government, Romney is able to minimize potential cognitive dissonance through the use of the conflict integration NLP technique.

Newt Gingrich and the Role of the Media

A few days prior to the January 19th, 2012 Republican primary debate in Florida, Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife, Marianne Gingrich, gave an interview to ABC News in which she revealed secrets that – at least according to media reports before the interview’s release – seemed poised to derail the Gingrich campaign once and for all.

But the fact that the interview’s “big revelation” turned out to be Newt’s somewhat innocuous request for an open marriage isn’t nearly as interesting as how the politician addressed reports about the scandalous nature of the interview’s content in his opening statement at the January 19th debate.

When asked by CNN moderator John King if he wanted to address the allegations of impropriety surrounding the interview’s content, Gingrich responded with the following statement:

“I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate with a topic like that.”

In this case, Gingrich’s statement demonstrates a masterful approach to an NLP technique known as re-framing.  Just as picture frames provide the borders by which we interpret the content of a photograph or painting, mental frames exist that give us context for how to perceive the events occurring around us.

Prior to the debate, the media frame being imposed over Marianne Gingrich’s forthcoming interview was one of the “victim wife”, abandoned by a husband whose insatiable lust left her in her time of need.  Rather than try to dispute the charges leveled against him, Newt Gingrich instead re-framed the terms of the discussion to instead paint himself as the victim of an overzealous media given to sensational stories.

By changing the “enemy” in the discussion to the media, Gingrich was able to successfully use NLP-reframing to smooth over those who sympathize with the plight of his ex-wife.

As we’re still months away from having a clear-cut Republican primary winner, it’s likely that we’ll continue to see plenty more examples of NLP techniques being used in political campaigns in order to differentiate the candidates and provide evidence of electability.  Keep your eyes out for more interesting case studies, as it’s almost certain these campaigns will continue to use tried-and-true NLP techniques in order to break away from the pack and clinch the nomination.

Overcoming the 3 Most Common Objections When Selling

Unless you’re the world’s most perfect salesperson, chances are you’ve run into objections before that have threatened to derail the entire sales process.  Really, is there anything more frustrating than a prospect that seems ready to buy tossing up a “game changer” statement that puts the future of your sale into question?

In fact, as a salesperson, you should welcome these objections, as they give you a chance to sharpen your sales skills and increase your likelihood of converting more prospects to buyers in the future.  Don’t panic when you encounter these roadblocks – instead, welcome them as learning opportunities and be prepared to beat your buyers at their own games.

The following are three of the most common sales objections you’ll encounter, whether you’re selling low cost products, high value services or anything in between.  Practice your responses to each of these objections using popular NLP techniques so that you’ll be prepared to encounter them in the real world.

Objection #1 – “I need more time to decide…”

Especially when you’re selling big ticket items, one of the most common objections you’ll see is the classic “stall” maneuver.  If your prospect says that he needs more time to think about something, be aware that he’s usually subconsciously using this technique to cover up an even bigger concern.

For example, your prospect may be stalling because he doesn’t feel he can trust you, or because he doesn’t completely understand how your offering will help him specifically.  In either case, he’s attempting to exit the situation without hurting your feelings and addressing what’s really on his mind.

In this situation, your best bet is to keep him talking.  If you give the prospect time to think and promise to return later to follow up, the odds are there isn’t going to be a “later”.  To prevent this from occuring, get in the habit of asking more questions whenever objections are presented.  Consider the following example:

“What was it about my proposal that you wanted to think over?  Is there anything I can explain better to make the benefits of my product clearer right now?”

By keeping your prospect engaged in the conversation, you should be able to uncover his true objections and meet them head on in order to keep the sales process rolling.

Objection #2 – “I can’t afford this right now…”

Ideally, your sales process should make the value of the product or service you’re selling so crystal clear that your prospect simply can’t wait to close the deal in order to start saving time or money.

But if you find yourself constantly having to justify the cost of the item you’re selling, you could benefit from an NLP technique known as “pre-framing”.  Most people are familiar with the idea of “re-framing” an argument – that is, taking a stated objection and spinning the way it’s phrased in order to minimize its impact.  The problem here is that the objection has already been stated, and often it’s difficult to recover once the argument is out in the open.

Instead, by “pre-framing” your expected objections, you take the power away from these arguments by tearing them down before they can even be presented.  For example, if you anticipate that price will be a concern, consider the following “pre-frame”:

“Although I know that price might seem high compared to my competitors, you have to look at the long term savings.  Over five years, my product has the potential to save your company over $10,000 – far more than what my competitors can guarantee.”

By addressing the specific objections you anticipate up front, you remove that from being a concern that has the potential to prevent your sales from occurring.

Objection #3 – “I’m just not sure I need your product…”

Has this one ever happened to you?  You’ve gone through your sales pitch, carefully highlighting the benefits of your offerings – practically making it seem as if your prospect couldn’t live without the item or service you’re selling – only to hear, “I’m not sure I really need that…”

It’s frustrating for sure, but this objection can be solved through the use of “embedded commands” – an NLP technique that works by enclosing highly persuasive statements into seemingly ordinary speech in order to “soften the blow” and subtly shift your prospect past his objections.

As an example, say you followed up your prospect’s objection in this case with the following statement:

“I understand your objections, but let me take a quick second to review the benefits of my product so that you can buy with confidence.”

On the surface, it seems as if you’re just transitioning the conversation back to the benefits of your product or service.  But in the process, you’ve also casually integrated the command, “buy with confidence” into your sales pitch, giving your buyer powerful subliminal cues that encourage him to close the deal.

Have you encountered any of these objections when selling?  If so, how have you handled them in the past and how will you use NLP techniques to deal with them in the future?