How can NLP Help with Sales?

By Martin Crump.

Martin is a Director and co-founder of Evolution.  He is a certified NLP Master Trainer with a wealth of experience of working with organisations of all sizes and types across the UK.




Who are you most likely to buy something from – someone you like? Or someone you don’t like?

The majority of people would say that they prefer to buy from someone they like.  You may buy something from someone you don’t like if it is a really good deal – but you will not feel as good about your purchase as you would if you really got on well with the Vendor.

People buy people.  First and foremost the most important to have with a potential customer is Rapport.  You probably find it easier to sell to some people than to others; and the people you find it easier to sell to are probably people you naturally have a rapport with.

Building and maintaining rapport is one of the key processes in NLP and invaluable in sales.

A Definition

Neuro – the way we take information in, process it and make sense of the world around us.

Linguistic – the way we communicate that sense of the world to other people (and to ourselves – do you ever talk to yourself?)

Programming – the effect that communication has on our behaviour, the behaviour of people around us and therefore the results we get.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right”

NLP was initially developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. The group expanded fast to include Judith Delosier (ex-wife of John), Lesly Cameron (ex-wife of Richard) and Robert Dilts.

Richard Bandler was interested in Computer Science and studied psychology. John Grinder had studied Linguistics (up to Ph.D. level), and had written some books based on the work of Noam Chomsky. Judith Delosier studied Anthropology. Lesly Comeron was a psychotherapist. Robert Dilts was a student in psychology and various other subjects.

They met at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Bandler started studying psychology here. Grinder was an associate professor in Linguistics at that time

Bandler started collaborating with Grinder in 1972. The first publications appeared in 1975.

They worked by modeling a number of well renowned and effective communicators with the purpose of discovering exactly what they did which made them effective. The idea was that, once the key methods were discovered, it should be possible for anyone to use the same techniques.

Selling With NLP

NLP is invaluable to all stages of the sales process and has even defined a 6 step sales process.

The most important aspect of this sales process is that it turns a traditional approach on its head.

Typically, selling starts with a ‘pitch’. We begin by giving information about our product or service and then answer questions, challenges or resistance.

NLP turns this on its head by finding out what the client needs, (and for what reason) before introducing the product or service.

This then gives you the opportunity to tailor your product, service, idea or point of view to meet the client’s needs exactly.

Before all of this happens, though, there are some crucial steps to consider.

First and foremost, you need to build rapport.  People like people who are like them.  If you like someone, you are more likely to listen to their information. NLP shows how to build and maintain rapport with people quickly and simply.

Before that stage, there is an even more important step – your own state.

Your behaviours and, therefore, your results are dramatically affected by your own internal state.  NLP shows you how to manage your own state (and the states of others) to access and maintain resourceful states as necessary.

The kind of questions you ask (and the way you ask them) can elicit crucial information from your client about motivation, need and concerns.  Again, NLP has several processes and behaviours to enhance these.

Closing the sale is key.  If you don’t close a sale with someone who wants to buy, all the effort you put in to this point is wasted.  Being able to use specific and non-specific language to close the sale is, again a useful NLP technique.

NLP is not magic.  It won’t help you to sell to someone who really doesn’t want to buy, but it will help you to convince someone to buy from you, instead of from someone else.

We run a wide range of business specific NLP courses including NLP for Sales – where we focus the key NLP tools and techniques at the sales process.  For more information contact us.

Six-Step Sales Process

  1. Get into State: Remember that your state of mind will dramatically affect your performance
  2. Establish Rapport: Remember, people who are like each other, tend to like each other. Match & Mirror:
  • Physiology
    • Tone of voice
    • Breathing
    • Key words
  1. Ask Questions: The questions you ask are directly related to the business of the person you are interviewing. Talk their language. Ask questions in the language of their business.
  • “For what purpose …”
    • Discover client’s I/R, desired state
    • Discover strategies
    • Discover Meta Programs and Values
  1. Find a Need: Establish need – establish value. No need? Stop here. Find another client. There are plenty out there.
  • Conditional close
  • Tag questions
  1. Link the Need or Value to your Product or Service
  • Conditional close (“Is it fair enough…”)
    • “What would happen if…”
    • “Compared to…” (Contrast Frame)
    • Because
    • Agreement Frame
    • Use strategies and language patterns
  1. Close: Ask for the order.
  • If no: (go to 3.)
    • If yes: Future pace. (get referrals.)


Resistance to your message indicates lack of rapport. If that happens at any point, build more rapport

for more information on how to apply NLP in a work environment come along to the NLP at Work Conference on 30th September .

NLP at Work conference 2011


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