Why Non-verbal Communications Are Critical In Sales

Just finished writing a promotional article for Foran Financial Institute.  Foran provides excellent exam preparation courses for financial services professionals as well as hosting Innergize workshops on accelerated learning and communications.  The article happened to be on influencing motivation—techniques for sales and marketing.  And it reminded me how much we risk when we take take non-verbal communications for granted. 

Take a challenge
Ask your sales people to rate their skill with non-verbal communications.  Have them use a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is excellent and 1 is ‘you want me to rate what?’  I can almost guarantee you’ll get nothing lower than 7 as an answer.  It’s way too easy to over simplify, assuming that because we earn our living selling that means we must be excellent in all forms of communications.  

During workshops, sales people may even be tempted to brush off the practice exercises for non-verbals “because we already know that.” Yet, like everything else we choose to practice or not, there is a risk and a reward.  

The following insights on consumer behaviour while not new news, are worth considering if you’re working in sales.  And my belief is that we all sell whether we like it or not, products, services, or simply our ideas.

Grounded in Research
First, remember that decisions are based on feelings and then justified with rational conscious thought. And neuroscience suggests that up to 95% of our emotions, decisions and behaviour are a result of unconscious processing.

Three things you may not have considered

  1. When asked about product choices, if people don’t know consciously, they will make up salient, plausible and socially acceptable reasons for what they do. (1) In other words, customers will tell you what they think they should want, based on social influences. (A tendency that has led to some costly miss-takes in consumer research.)
  2. While features and benefits supply the rational reasons to justify a decision once it is made, the unconscious sensory elements of an experience have far greater influence (positive or negative) on emotions, buying decisions and loyalty. (1)
  3. Non-verbal cues and linguistic markers provide the most accurate information about what people want and intend to do, because they are largely unconscious.(2)

Unlocking unconscious communication 
Three skills worth learning:

  • How to dig deeper for the real reasons people will buy.
  • How to use specific process words and other non-verbal behaviour to communicate your value.  
  • How to read the critical non-verbal cues that reveal more than customers can or will tell you. 

Learn more about unlocking unconscious and non-verbal communications

(1) J. Le Doux, Center for Neural Science, NYU, 1998.
(2) J. Kagan, Harvard Mind: Brain: Behaviour Initiative, 2002

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A Quick Note: For Unconscious Mind Fans

If you’re already certified in NLP, you’re aware of the role the unconscious mind plays in running your emotions, decisions and behaviour.  So you may enjoy the interesting tidbits of new research I found at http://nationaladd.blogspot.com/ in the August 26, 2007 posting.  Priming the unconscious is a facinating subject, especially for those working in sales. We prime our customers’ minds in so many ways and not always in the direction we’d like.

The Gap Between Knowing And Doing

The previous post suggested that most people already have a wealth of knowledge that if applied, would make them more successful.  The real question becomes what prevents us from doing what we know? Using our knowledge consistently? While answers may seem as unique as each of us, there are some themes.

Take my friend Paul who faithfully followed techniques recommend in the current success literature (media really.)  This new and improved version of positive thinking adds emotions as a critical part of the mix.  

All well and good. But as time passed Paul failed to make any progress in his life.  Even though he was working harder, he said it felt like taking one step forward, two steps back.  Know the feeling? 

Insights from neuro-science 
Doctors Joseph le Doux and Antonio Damasio, are respected neuro scientists working to understand how the brain processess emotions.  They now estimate that up to 95% of our emotions, decisions and behaviours are the result of unconscious mental processing.  Think about that.  Emotions, decisions, behaviours, running automatically without our conscious rational thinking.  

One step forward, two steps back  
Back to Paul who was using his new positive thinking + feeling techniques to achieve a very specific goal.  Here’s what a couple of questions revealed:

  • Although Paul had the skills to achieve his goal and knew others less knowlegeable who were succeeding, he still wasn’t sure it was possible for him.
  • He wanted to believe it, wished it was possible, but just wasn’t sure.  
  • The more he effort he made to move forward, the more stumbling blocks he seemed to find. The harder it was.

The fix
Once we discovered his lack of conviction, a fear lurking behind a wish, we used NLP to make the change.  Paul was able to unplug the fear, neutralize it and reconnect to a strong inner belief in himself that fully supported his goal.

We didn’t waste any time trying to figure out what caused Paul’s lack of conviction.  We simply updated his belief using a technique for working with the unconscious mind.  Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) has been teaching people how to work with their own unconscious mind for over 30 years, long before many would even acknowledge the concept.

Today Paul is seeing the results of efforts, he’s working smarter, has more energy and says he’s having more fun too!

Tomorrow ….  another theme, one that can cause you to to spin your wheels between competing priorities. 

Welcome to the Innergize Blog

Starting this blog is a first step to creating an environment where we can share practical tips, stories and ideas for leading, learning and thriving during times of change.  Sometimes even disruptive change! 

The operative word here is sharing so I hope you’ll add your own comments, ideas, suggestions and requests as time goes on.  

Why a title like communications, motivation and NLP resources?
The name reflects three things I’ve observed about life and people.

  1. The most challenging opportunities for growth you’ll have to deal with usually walk on two legs.
  2. If you look down, you’ll notice the feet at the end of those legs are often your own.
  3. Nobody ever stops in a moment of bliss to say “what is there to learn from this?” And life is learning.

I’ve also noticed that most people already know what they need to do to be more successful.  The real challenge isn’t knowing what to do, it’s knowing how to get yourself to do it, consistently.  I have a friend who believes, if we just did 10% more of what we know needs to be done, we’d all enjoy 90% more success!!

For me, this is where communications, motivation and NLP resources come together.  How we communicate with ourselves and others, directly or indirectly,  influences motivation.  And NLP is a wonderful resource for learning how to communicate in ways that will be motivating, for yourself and others.  So if you’re interested in harnessing the power of your mind, accessing more of your inner resources and assisting others of a like mind to do the same, NLP may be worth considering.  What do you think?