By Tom Waters and Ben Abel
Bank Associates Merchant Services
The map is not the territory. This phrase is a core belief of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and means that how situations are viewed is entirely subjective. NLP was created in the 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder as an approach to communication, psychotherapy and personal development using various structures of communication to attain personal goals.
Whether it is an effective therapy has been debated, but many techniques developed from the NLP paradigm have seeped into other fields such as business, motivational speaking and entertainment. Anthony Robbins and Derren Brown both tout that NLP techniques are used heavily in their respective programs.
The concept behind "frame control," an NLP technique, is that we can define experiences for other people and shift how they view and interact with information based on how it is communicated to them. This occurs frequently in sales and likely exists in many sales techniques you are familiar with. We will explore how frame control can change how a situation is viewed and how you can harness it to your advantage. By defining someone's perception of a situation you can influence the person's behavior.
One famous example of frame control was executed by Colleen Szot, a legend in the paid programming community. If you've ever watched an infomercial (and let's be honest; we've all watched a few in our lifetimes) you're probably familiar with the phrase "Operators are waiting; please call now." This request seems reasonable. If you like the product, pick up the phone and we have someone who'll answer to take your order. But Szot changed the wording of that simple request to "If operators are busy, please call again."
So what is different? Is the product better? Did it now blend more powerfully or rotisserie more efficiently? Not at all. What changed was the customer's perception of the product's sales. "Operators are waiting; please call now" conjures an image of a room full of people at desks, twiddling their thumbs and checking their social media accounts while they wait for something to do.
On the other hand, "If operators are busy, please call again" gives you a picture of a room filled with action. The operators are so engaged taking other people's orders, they may not be free to take yours. People decided in troves that they would rather buy the product that was keeping those operators so busy. After all, if so many people wanted it, how bad could it be?
In the same vein, GS Online MLS Forum user ber pointed out the subtle difference wording can play in how you are viewed by a prospect. "I never say 'help you' but instead 'assist you,'" ber wrote. "Help can be taken as me pulling the prospect up to a better level than I'm already on. Assist is seen as working side-by-side to accomplish a goal or resolve an issue." I really like this one, as it paints an image for the merchant of the consultative, collaborative approach to the process.
User ber followed this up with another carefully crafted statement about how to position a POS sale. "Our POS can do everything yours can do, plus we have quite a few things your system doesn't have that might enable you to resolve some of the challenges you're facing and achieve some of the goals you have," ber posted. According to ber, this statement is designed to address the following four areas without the merchant having to state them directly:
This is a perfect example of showing how the wording used creates a beneficial frame for how the merchant will view that POS in comparison to the one he or she already has.
When defining the frame for your prospect, point to the aspects or the perspective through which you want the situation viewed. Following are two example situations, one from outside the industry and one from within:
Example 1: A politician is trying to sell the idea of bailing out a company with taxpayer money.
Frame: "We must prevent the widespread job loss that will occur if this company collapses. The economic impact to these families and this community will be devastating."
Explanation: While a politician's constituents typically do not feel bad for corporations, it is likely they will be empathetic to the lost jobs of the company's employees.
Example 2: A merchant level salesperson (MLS) reviews a marginally priced statement and sees the best he or she can do is cut the transaction fee from $0.10 to $0.05.
Frame: "And here I'm going to cut your transaction fee in half."
Explanation: Changing the way the information is conveyed, from a dollar amount to a proportion, can make the difference look more substantive. In both of these scenarios, the proposition's wording provides a viewpoint that is likely to entice the audience.
One critical point is the importance of proper ethics in sales and merchant solicitation. The ability to create an attractive offering, built on a foundation of valuable products and services and presented with skill and panache, is what makes a successful salesperson. The need to mislead, misinform or lie surfaces only when someone feels he or she isn't able to sell the product or isn't motivated to sell it properly.
Part of the idea behind frame control is that it stays always within the realm of truth. We present that truth in the most attractive means possible; that's why it's called selling – but at no time do lies enter that equation. Knowing how to present information in a captivating way is one of the core skills needed by an MLS, and that skill should always be used ethically. Once you feel your product is unsellable from any perspective and you begin to outright lie and mislead to get a sale, that is the day you need to start looking for a new product or career.
Tom Waters has been dedicated to the merchant service sales profession since 2001. Currently, he is responsible for cultivating relationships with entrepreneurs in information technology, accounting, sales and marketing in his role as Sales Director of Bank Associates Merchant Services (www.bams.com). Using fresh and matter-of-fact training methods, Tom has contributed to the success of thousands of agents, affiliates and clients. He can be reached via email through firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 347-651-1065.
Ben Abel is Regional Director at Bank Associates Merchant Services. Since joining the team in 2006, he has risen through company ranks with a paradigm that his success was measured by the success of those around him. Ben is a dedicated, pioneering trainer whose methods of merchant services consultation have helped many agents expand their portfolios in terms of processing volume, deal count and profitability. He can be contacted at 347-866-9571 or email@example.com.
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