How to Sell a Feeling
By John Sheridan
To be totally in tune with the needs of your customers or prospective customers you have to listen to them. Listen to them - it sounds easy enough to do but not everybody gets it right. What you must always bear in mind when you are selling something is that you are not selling an item or object - you are selling a feeling.
I was taught this particular lesson whilst working for a friend who was very much into NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) which studies the structure of how humans think and experience the world. One small part of this vast subject centred on how people can be persuaded to relax and immediately place their trust in you if you use the language they want to hear; how do you know what they want to hear? It's simple, they will supply the clue, and as I stated previously - you just have to listen to them.
The method is simple; there are some people that are audio dominant and will react to what you say to them; there are others that are visually dominant and will respond more to what they see. The crucial point is that you have to get the language right to get either of these two groups wanting to buy from you. The following examples illustrate how this is done.
Imagine you are working in a store that sells music systems and your first potential customer walks in and says to you, "I would like to look at a CD player please."
The use of the word "look suggests that they are visually dominant so your reply must be in the same vein by using "sight words such as;
"Ok sir/madam, let me "show you this one." or "Could you "see this in your lounge? or "The finish on this model "looks great."
The person may not even switch it on but could still end up buying it because it looks good. Using these types of expressions will create a comfortable feeling in the buyer because they perceive you to be on their wavelength; the probability of them buying from you should increase significantly.
For the audio dominant person, the same technique is applied but this time using "sound words. This time a person walks in and says, "I would like to listen to a CD player please." "Ok sir/madam how does this one "sound to you? or "Can you "hear the difference between this one and the other? Again, listen to what they are saying and tailor your conversation to suit.
If you use "sight words with an audio dominant person, it will create an uncomfortable feeling for them that will possibly result in them leaving the store without a purchase. The same obviously applies to using "sound words with a visually dominant person; it causes conflicting feelings because the language doesn't feel right to them. This takes us back to the earlier point that you are selling a feeling and not an object.
It is worth noting that a vast number of people worldwide regard the use of NLP in business as essential but equally there are those who are not entirely convinced of its effectiveness. I have seen and indeed occasionally used the language technique myself but with only a moderate degree of success. I am sure there are far superior and experienced NLP practitioners out there who cannot only close a sale at nearly every attempt, but make it look easy at the same time.
Give it a try and see if it works for you. You may not get any results or you could be a roaring success. Either way, it should be interesting, and with a bit of effort and persistence - who knows?
About The Author
John Sheridan is a professional proofreader of hard copy items and website copy. He also writes web copy and occasionally accepts small copy-editing assignments.