I’ve been working with an NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) client lately, which is totally cool. I’m not a genius like he is about NLP, but I have learned some of the basics. NLP helps you to work out the effects of conditioning that you received during your early life.
We all have some of that. Our parents, teachers, and other factors lead us to believe that the world works in certain ways, when we may be thinking things that are entirely wrong and not even know when we’re doing that.
Did you know that by studying the elements of NLP, you can become a better marketer and salesperson? Today, I’d like to explore one of those areas, called “Future Pacing.”
Let’s take a typical customer. You may have met him in person, on the telephone, or during some interaction where you got him really excited about what it is you have to sell. He’s ready to plunk the money down right then, until you find out they have to discuss the purchase with someone else first.
This is usually bad. Once you’re not there to pump up the enthusiasm, it dissipates and you may lose out to what my husband (who’s been selling for 35 years) calls the “Third Baseman.” However, you can lessen the effects by using some future pacing techniques that solidify the sale in the customer’s mind.
Let’s think about the Third Baseman first. He or she is someone you never met and who never met you. Perhaps they haven’t seen your product, either. All they know about it is what your primary buyer tells them. If your customer is not able to garner the same enthusiasm for your product in their Third Baseman’s mind, you’ll be sunk.
You can do the best selling job in the world for your primary contact, but this Third Baseman can unravel all of your good work in just a few minutes flat. They know the potential buyer better than you do, and they can push buttons that will kill your sale quicker than a lion kills a wounded wildebeest.. Gone, baby, gone. What you have to do is cement ideas into your customer’s mind. You have to make them salespeople, too.
That’s where this NLP technique of future pacing fits in. You can pre-program your customer to overcome objections and to reinforce the relationship that they have with you at the point where they said, “Yes, but….”
At that point, you can do these things:
- Acknowledge their commitment to you. Make them imagine what it would be like to own whatever it is you’re selling:
“Picture this in your mind: You look great driving this car! When you pull into the driveway at home, your neighbors will definitely notice, and your coolness factor just went up about 100 degrees.”
“You are so right. You will love wearing these jeans.. they really do make your backside look amazing!” (Oh, come on. You know we all worry about that.)
“Imagine waking up to this gorgeous view every day. Taste the coffee and see the ducks floating on the lake? Now, that’s peaceful.. What a great way to start the day!”
- Make the buying decision a done deal in their minds:
“When you sign the papers…”
“If I can just get your credit card number…”
“How do you want to pay, cash, check, credit card?”
“I’ll just take these to the cashier’s desk and start the ringing this up for you.”sign the papers now? You can bring your wife/husband in tomorrow. That way, you can quickly get in and out and start driving this car.”
“OK, I’ll take this jacket to the desk and start ringing you up.”
- Reinforce their decision by making it urgent:
“You’re really smart buying this now. It may not be around tomorrow. We don’t have many in stock.”
You want people to think that if they don’t jump immediately, they could be out of luck and then, they won’t be cool and they won’t be happy with any other product that’s LIKE the one you sold them. They also like the idea of exclusivity. “It’s one-of-a-kind.”
- Remind them of the benefits of owning your product:
“I know the car is powerful, but it’s great on gas mileage! You’ll be saving money and helping the environment at the same time.”
“This bicycle will help you to ease the strain on your back.”
Blah-de-blah-de-blah. Which what you say is NOT. Here’s the place that matters most — What’s in it for them? You have to convince people that without your product, they are sunk, or at least, accepting something inferior that won’t make them feel as happy as they do at that moment.
- Provide objections to overcome:
This is the most important part of future pacing. Figure what people are already thinking. One big objection, usually is that they “can’t afford it.” So… You say:
“Sure, it’s probably a little more than you’re used to spending, but this car isn’t just a car… It’s a BMW. There aren’t too many like this one with the special firemist paint, either. We can barely keep them in stock and they’re a limited edition..”
“It’s not the color you wanted? No worries! We’ll just order one in the color you like.”
“You have too many jackets? I’ll bet you don’t have one like this.”
“The wallet is too expensive? I agree, it’s not cheap, but it won’t fall apart, either. It’s hand-sewn and created, not pumped out by a machine, and I dare you to find ONE friend that has the same accessory. Nope. This is one-of-a-kind, and it will sell fast. I can’t promise you that it will be available tomorrow, or even later today.”
Of course, remember to be sure what you tell people is true. If you’re just making things up, your potential buyer will know that you don’t really believe what you’re saying.
- Make them create a compelling statement by asking questions:
“You have a good eye for a bargain, don’t you?”
“You want to make more money, don’t you?”
Make buyers reinforce the decision they have already made in their minds.
- Reiterate their responses:
“Oh, yeah, that red is great. The diamond flecks in the paint really make it glow in the sun”
“You’re smart to think that way. This course really can help you to get the money you need.”
Help them to see that they’re making the right choice. Solidify it in their minds. Help them to believe that they’re doing the right thing. If you believe in your product, it won’t be that difficult for you.
- Ask them for objections that their Third Baseman might raise: When they say they have to clear it with the wife or husband first, ask, “Really? Why wouldn’t they want this car?”
Then, overcome the objections they present so that your customer can overcome as they’re posed. Future-proof the sale.
“You can’t afford it? Listen, you can’t afford to walk away from this deal, and just think about how much you’ll save with the great gas mileage. This car will pay for itself.”
“This air conditioner is energy efficient. Wait until you see how low your electric bills go.”
The money objection is a big one. If you can show them how they can afford your product or how much they’ll save, that will help you to make them see the benefit.
These are just some ideas for you that I’ve learned over the years, and I’ve been selling since 1974, mainly banking, but now, I sell services almost every day. When I sell a client, I know when they’re closed and when they’re not. You really need to plant the idea in your customers’ minds that they have already bought the item. Make it real to them through sensory details, benefits that fit their wants and desires (not necessarily their needs), and overcome objections that haven’t yet arisen. If they do leave to “think it over” or “consult with the wife or husband,” you’ll probably get them back, IF you have built a strong relationship with them and left no doubt in their minds what’s in it for them.
It’s not all about the selling. It’s also about how you connect with your client, how you show them that you’re helping them to get what they want, and treat them with respect, too. Everything you do and say during the sales process is crucial. So, think about this when you’re selling online — in words, on a teleseminar, or in person, too.
You may not have physical products to sell. Perhaps you have affiliate products or information products, or even intangibles, such as coaching. All of these techniques in making the sale of those are every bit as valid.
The relationship with your customer is probably the most important element of closing a deal. If they feel obligated to you because the relationship is strong, they probably will come back to you and buy — sometimes, just because they like you. That’s not always the case, but the stronger your presentation, the stronger the bond, the stronger the IMAGE of them having whatever it is you’re selling, the more likely it is that you will make that sale.