Can NLP really be used in sales and business?
I get asked this question a lot, and usually by people who have had a slight exposure to neuro-linguistic programming. Usually, their experience has been in a coaching or therapeutic context, and so making the connections between that and a sales meeting can often be a challenge.
If you are not sure what NLP is, let me give you a short description. According to Wikipedia, “NLP is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s.“Since its original inception, it has been developed into a series of tools and techniques that therapists can use to help their clients overcome issues such as phobias, fears and negative habits.
However, it was originally designed through modelling. Modelling is the process of identifying a skill someone does extremely well, and then breaking it down into it’s constituent parts so that someone else might be able to replicate the same process.
If we apply this to business, there are a lot of skills and behaviours that successful people undertake, so wouldn’t it be good if we could understand what they do and teach it to others? This is one of the main areas that NLP is useful in business.
For example, how is it that some salespeople are just able to get on with any client? They seem to be able to generate rapport out of thin air and within minutes have the prospect sharing information that most salespeople never even get close to finding out. Is there a process or strategy that they use every time they meet someone new that, if we could understand better, we might be able to use some of the elements ourselves?
Or what about the executive who always has people interested in her presentations? She manages to captivate everyone when presenting even the most boring of topics, and when she gives people a call to action, they get up and go!
Or how about the HR executive that knows in the first few minutes whether someone will be suitable for a job role? Why do they ask such strange questions? What is it they are looking for in interviews that is not seen on the resume or CV?
These are just a few examples of how NLP can be useful in business.
NLP for salespeople can teach concepts such as rapport, communication patterns for improved questioning and how to understand someone’s motivation which is helpful when closing.
NLP for executives can teach presentation tactics, conflict resolution and higher level communication that is essential when dealing with the vision of an organisation.
NLP for HR can teach about different personality profile types, how to ask questions that will uncover motivations and also how to conduct difficult conversations should things go wrong.
If you are going to study NLP and want to apply it in a business context, here are a few tips to look out for.
– Is it a business-specific training course? Usually, business NLP courses will adapt the exercises to be more suitable in the workplace, rather than be completely therapeutic in nature.
– Does the trainer have business experience? Often the trainer will have no business or sales experience and will simply be trying to apply the same techniques from regular NLP which often doesn’t work.
– How much experience do they have? NLP is largely unregulated, despite a progressive qualifications ladder. However, some NLP trainers have more experience than others, which can certainly help.
NLP can certainly be applied to business, and in particular, salespeople can learn so many communication techniques that will help them in their role. Buy a book, attend a course or watch a video and start using NLP in sales and business today.