Salesman Frank Somma harnesses Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to deliver his optimistic message of self-belief for salespeople.
Salespeople with advanced Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) skills can read their sales prospects well – and sometimes before the prospects read themselves, promises author Frank Somma. A certified NLP practitioner and sales superstar he teaches readers how to use NLP to decipher their prospects’ body language and establish rapport. Somma offers anecdotes and input from industry experts to inspire you to use his “person to person” (P2P) system to develop productive, warm and profitable relationships.
Somma states his theme right at the beginning: being a top salesperson takes hard work. He explains that, as with the myth of the born athlete, the idea of the born salesperson is counterfactual. He cites basketball superstar Michael Jordan’s combination of passion, effort and long hours of practice and offers him as a model whom salespeople should emulate.
None of us emerge from the womb with number-one salesperson status stamped on us. Frank Somma
Besides field experience, Somma says that great salespeople learn their trade and develop their techniques through multiple channels, including reading sales books and manuals, attending sales seminars and workshops, and practicing their profession.
Somma recommends that salespeople should learn and apply the techniques of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to develop affinity with their prospects and build long-running, productive relationships. The core of the book consists of Somma detailing NLP and how it works.
We are all selling all the time.Frank Somma
In 2008, as the national sales director for a New York City firm, Somma relates that he had to sell to the Liman brothers, physically big guys with larger-than-life personalities. The Limans drove Rolls-Royces, wore Rolexes and flew first class to Las Vegas for high-stakes gambling.
Somma admits he was nervous about meeting the Limans at their favorite Italian restaurant. Despite the brothers’ intimidating demeanor, Somma recounts that he asked open-ended questions and made the two men feel that they were the only people in the world who mattered to him.
Somma recounts directing the conversation to matters that most interested the Limans. After an hour, he reports that he had talked for eight minutes and the Limans for 52 minutes. He recommends always seeking a similar ratio during sales calls. Somma boasts that over the next year, the Limans did more than $1 million dollars’ worth of business with his firm.
Prospects do business with people they like, Somma explains. Salespeople must connect with prospects quickly and show their likeability. Somma details how to make a good first impression: relax your arms, keep your hands in front you, establish quick eye contact, smile, greet the prospect warmly and lean in to shake hands. Somma reminds you to say the prospect’s first name often.
Practicing NLP as he spoke to the Limans during their first meal with him, Somma adjusted his body language to match theirs. He paid attention to their respiration rate, their speech patterns, and how they held their hands and feet – and he attempted to duplicate all those personal motions and manifestations by subtly using mirroring techniques.
Build rapport like you’d build a bridge across a wide span, connecting each side solidly rather than attempting to cross…on a flimsy zipline…worrying about the next gust of wind. Frank Somma
Mirroring, he instructs, means unobtrusively imitating your prospect’s posture and movements. If you use mirroring well, he says, it invisibly links your consciousness with the that of your prospect.
Somma – a bit jarringly – cites FBI agent Joe Navarro, who believes that if you are sitting with a prospect who points his or her feet outward, he or she intends to get out of the conversation. Prospects who cross their feet, Navarro maintains, are comfortable with you.
Somma reviews the basic techniques that salespeople use to develop leads, whether by canvassing in person or on the phone, exploring additional opportunities with current clients, networking, generating referrals or using social media. Use them all, he says. And, unlike many contemporary sales gurus, Somma still believes in cold calling. He holds that if you make 100 cold calls daily, you will develop more leads than your colleague who makes only 25.
Salespeople must deal maturely with rejection.
Somma urges you to be selective about the people you spend time with and try to develop as customers. He understands that some prospects will be – as the Limans were – initially disrespectful and disagreeable, but says you can establish rapport. He stresses that what matters most is your reaction to the clients’ behavior. He urges you to make sure that you – not your prospects –govern your state of mind.
It’s on you. You are responsible for the results of your encounters.
Two years after Somma had his lunch with the Limans, he divulges that the brothers decided to sell their company. The younger brother asked Somma to represent him during the sale. The same Liman brother who initially insulted Somma now wanted Somma to speak on his behalf for the biggest deal of his career. The author credits this to the rapport he established with the brothers, with the help of NLP techniques.
While Frank Somma’s guidance isn’t groundbreaking, it is informative and useful. His offering of NLP as a breakthrough technique is particularly interesting, though many of the methods he suggests are featured in other sales books as well, if under slightly different rubrics. What makes this a particularly worthwhile read is not Somma’s exact advice, but his warm style and tone. Somma is a lively, engaging writer who knows how to tell a story for maximum effect, and he offers several good ones. Moreover, his relentless optimism and his heartfelt belief that you can adapt his methods successfully will inspire even the most down-spirited salesperson. The methods he suggests are proven and worthwhile.
Somma is also a sales and communications consultant and speaker, as well as the author of the long-running blog Weekly Thought. Other contemporaneous, useful works on selling abound, including Selling Transformed by Phillip Squire, A Mind for Sales by Mark Hunter, Virtual Selling by Jeb Blount, and Selling in Place by Tom Searcy and Carajane Moore.