People first buy trust and then the product

By Dr Alex Cheung, Master Trainer of NLP

This is the third in a six-part series focusing on various ways that neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) can be applied in today's business world.

Attuning the senses to a customer's 'good vibes' is a must when trying to close a deal

How many times have we gone shopping for something with a specific price in mind and then spent more than we had budgeted because we "felt right about the deal and the sales person." Getting the customer to "feel good", to "trust" what he hears at point-of-sale is a valuable lesson in selling. How then do we tune into the customer's wavelength to evoke trust and transmit those positive "vibes" that will enable us to successfully close a sale?

First, we have to establish a rapport using methods described in our previous Gear Up article. Then we can employ one of the most simple and effective passports to success-the internal mode of communication (IMC). Of course, we all have our own way in which we perceive the commercial world. However, in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), we discover that people have three basic methods of such perception-in other words, their mode of communication:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic

    The Visual sees the world, the Auditory hears it, and the Kinesthetic feels it. The interesting thing is that most people do not know which mode they are using because it is unconscious behaviour. Of course, no one thinks completely in one mode to the exclusion of the other two. Our minds are constantly at work and automatically switch from one mode to another depending on the external stimuli. However, we all have a preferred mode, V, A or K, in which we are more comfortable. When we are in the company of people of the same preferred mode, we will feel that they, too, speak our language and are likely to be more receptive to their ideas and suggestions. Hence, being able to "read" people so as to find out their preferred mode is a powerful tool in communication.

    Visual people use predicates such as: see, look, appear, show, imagine, foggy, clear, etc. They look up constantly as they perceive pictures in their mind's eye. For example, if you are a property agent bringing a client to view a flat, on recognising that your client is a Visual person, you would use sentences like:

  • Look at the beautiful view out there.
  • Notice how bright this flat is.
  • Did you see those colourful tiles in the bathroom?
  • See how stylish the lobby is.

    In addition to using visual predicates, you should always use brochures, graphs, charts, pictures or even hand gestures when selling to Visuals. The secret is: "Show, don't tell."

    Auditory people use predicates such as: hear, listen, rings a bell, sounds, question, etc. They tend to move their eyes sideways and are easily distracted by noise. So, when the property agent comes across an Auditory, this time he will use sentences like:

  • It is situated in such a tranquil environment.
  • There are only two flats per floor and thus much less noise from neighbours.
  • This can be your hi-fi room so that you can listen to music in your leisure.
  • The experts also say this is the best time to buy.

    Auditory targets like to hear what others have to say or comment before making a decision; so informing them of others' views and the comments of experts or celebrities also will help. Other auditory aids could include music. Studies show that slow music causes us to relax and buy on impulse. We may use illustrative materials as well, but the Auditories would need us to explain to them so that they can listen to what is on the papers.

    Kinesthetics use predicates such as: feel, grasp, get hold of, slip through, catch up, etc. They tend to look downwards, usually to their right to assess their internal feelings. Hence, when the property agent meets a Kinesthetic, he would need to directly pay attention to what the client is feeling. The following sentences will be more appealing:

  • Feel how comfortable this flat is!
  • It has that kind of homely feeling that is so important for a family, right?
  • The carpet is so soft and warm to walk on.
  • It has a five-star clubhouse with all kinds of amenities for your family to enjoy.

    Kinesthetics enjoy the hands-on experience. Let them try your products and feel them for themselves. If it is only on a brochure, just letting them hold a brochure or two will make them feel at ease.

    If we are selling to groups, we would have to use all three modes (V, A and K) in order to establish a rapport with all present. It takes patience and practice to master all these skills. Always remember to read your clients' cues. Keep checking yourself throughout the presentation and, if you have to, try to seamlessly switch modes.

    Building trust

  • Show, don't tell
  • Read your clients' cues
  • Be prepared to seamlessly switch modes during your presentation

    Dr Alex Cheung FHKIE, FCMI, FInstAM, FHKIoD, FIOSH is a chartered engineer with more than 30 years experience. He has been appointed to serve on advisory boards and committees with many reputable universities and public organisations. Currently Dr Cheung is a Master Trainer of NLP and actively promoting Behaviour Psychology to unleash people's inner potential. For information please visit or contact Alex Cheung at

  • Taken from Career Times 20 August 2004
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