Using NLP Presuppositions in Sales Communications

At the heart of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a set of 13 presuppositions that form the basis for every NLP technique that’s built on this groundwork.  While it’s important to recognize that these presuppositions aren’t presumed to be 100% applicable, 100% of the time, accepting them as generally true is an important part of translating NLP theories to your own life.

To review, the 13 presuppositions of NLP are as follows:

  1. Behind every behavior there is a positive intention.
  2. The map is not the territory.
  3. Anything can be accomplished when the task is broken down into small enough chunks.
  4. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.
  5. People already have all the resources they need.
  6. Every behavior is useful in some context.
  7. If one person can do something, other people can learn from that person’s success.
  8. The messenger never rests until the message is delivered.
  9. The meaning of your communication is the response you get.
  10. Communication is redundant.
  11. Choice is better than no choice.
  12. People always make the best choice available to them at the time.
  13. If what you are doing isn’t working, do anything else.

Understanding how these presuppositions influence NLP theory is important, but what’s even more useful is figuring out how these broad truths can be applied to more specific aspects of your life.

One area that’s particularly well suited to the application of NLP presuppositions is sales communications.  No matter what industry you’re in or what job title you hold, chances are you make use of sales communication in some aspect of daily life.  For example, you may work as a salesperson who pitches products to potential buyers, or you may simply use elements of sales communication to persuade others to see your point of view, as is the case for most project managers.

Since so many of us make use of at least some elements of sales communication, understanding how to be more effective and persuasive is often a vital pursuit within the business world.  If you find yourself in this position, consider the following potential applications of NLP presuppositions to your sales communications.

First, let’s take a look at the ninth presupposition – that the intention of your communication is the result you derive from it.  On its face, this sounds contradictory.  After all, if you’re pitching a client on a new product and get a “No” response, the result clearly isn’t matching up with what you expected to hear.

However, it’s important to remember that communication isn’t just the words that you’ve said.  Your appearance, body language and mannerisms are all communicating as well, creating a unique experience for your listener.  The overall result of all these different elements working together can be determined by the response that’s elicited from the listener – which may or may not be what we intended to communicate in the first place!

If you find yourself frequently engaging in sales communication without receiving the response you desire, consider that there may be other factors that are clouding your message and preventing you from reaching your intended resolution.  Ask a trusted friend or family member to watch you give a sample pitch or presentation to see if another set of eyes can help you pick up on any of these unintentional saboteurs.

Another fun NLP presupposition that can be applied to the sales process is the idea that choice is always better than no choice.

Think, for a second, about how this idea plays out in your own life by imagining two sets of kitchen cupboards.  The first has all the ingredients to make your favorite meal, while the second has these materials plus enough to make fiver other dishes as well.  Even though you’ll be able to prepare your favorite meal with the items found in both sets of cupboards, knowing that you have a choice to select this dish is infinitely more satisfying than feeling as if you’re stuck with a single option.

When you enter into any type of sales communication, remember this principle and apply it to the statements make.  Even if what you’re offering is a false choice (for example, “You can either invest in this product now or wait a few months, but then your competitors will be ahead of you,”), allowing your prospect to feel as if he’s making the final decision often results in more satisfactory outcomes for you.

Finally, consider the 13th NLP presupposition as it applies to sales communication.  There are innumerable ways to attempt to persuade people in these instances – so why do so many of us stick to the same “tried and true” tactics, even if they fail repeatedly?!  If you aren’t having a lot of luck persuading your prospects to buy in to your products or ideas, try something – anything – new to see if your results will improve.

Image: Mark Kidsley

5 thoughts on “Using NLP Presuppositions in Sales Communications

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