The pinnacle of success for many salespeople, especially those on straight commission, is reaching the seven figure income mark. After all, one of the primary allures of a commission-based career is the unlimited income potential-- if you know how to master your craft. That was the lesson Jeremy Miner learned decades ago when he began his first sales job and was earning practically nothing using the training his company gave him.
However, when Jeremy began developing his own sales methodology based on what he learned about neuro emotions when he was majoring in psychology as a college student, his results started to change. The methodology he developed, which he calls Neuro Emotional Persuasion Questions (NEPQ) helped him not only reach the seven figure level of income, but sustain it for more than a decade straight. Now his firm, 7th Level, trains hundreds of thousands of salespeople ranging from entrepreneurs to teams at the largest corporations. We did a deep dive into what neuro emotional persuasion is and how anyone can try it in real life.
Are there certain mindsets or character traits that hold salespeople back from success?
Jeremy Miner: Unfortunately, one characteristic in particular comes directly from some of the outdated sales training that salespeople still receive. From day one as new salespeople we're taught about the importance of being enthusiastic.
Traditional sales training tells us to project as much enthusiasm as possible when talking to a prospect - and to act excited. That the more excitement you display to your prospect about your product, telling how great it is; that somehow it will cause them to be excited and magically want to open up their wallet and buy from you.
“Enthusiasm sells” in other words.
Trouble is, while this may have worked thirty to forty years ago (prior to the internet and especially social media) it's hardly perceived as authentic anymore.
This is because salespeople take enthusiasm too far. While it’s good to be excited - if you’re selling in today's world at a high level - that enthusiasm needs to be internalized. Meaning, keep it to yourself.
That's not to say to have no energy whatsoever, but prospects can sense when you're overdoing it - and it turns them off. Giving off too much excited energy creates subconscious pressure that triggers sales resistance from your prospects and causes them to push back and run the other way!
What is Neuro Emotional Questioning?
JM: Neuro Emotional Persuasion Questions (NEPQ) is a methodology I developed that focuses on a key principle of behavioral science: Salespeople are actually the most persuasive when they allow their prospects to persuade themselves.
This involves asking skilled questions at the right time, in the right sequence, with the right delivery which can help draw prospects towards you,where they pull you in. The result is they start chasing you - rather than you pursuing and pushing them to buy.
Yet this is exactly what so many salespeople have been trained to do, either consciously or subconsciously in how they lead their prospects. When we train these same salespeople in NEPQ, the difference they see in responses from prospects and in their close- rate is exponential to put it mildly.
What are some examples of questions that a salesperson should ask?
JM: NEPQ has a seven step structure of Questioning that leads the prospect to persuade themselves. The very first questions out of our mouth when talking to a prospect are called “connecting questions”, which take the focus off you and puts it on them. Next, you need to ask what we call “Situation Questions” to find out what their present situation is.
These are followed by, “Problem Awareness Questions” - which help them find out in their own mind what their real problems are, what caused those problems, and how it’s affecting them.
From here you’re asking “Solution Awareness questions” which involve your potential customer and their own ideas, which strengthen the benefits (in their mind) of wanting to solve their problems. They also come to realise what their “future state” will look like once the problem is solved.
At this point you would ask what we call “Consequence questions” that help your prospect question their own way of thinking, and explore the consequences of not solving their problem.
An example could be: “Have you thought about the ramifications of you not doing anything about this, and the situation gets worse?”
Next are “Transition Questions” - these help you transition into your presentation. This is where you will feed-back what you heard them say, and in so doing, present the specific advantages and benefits of your solution and how it will solve their problems.
Finally, step seven is simple: You simply ask a few “Committing questions” that help your prospect commit and take the next step to purchase your solution.
For example at the end of the presentation you could pose the question: “Do you feel like this could be the answer for you?” (most will say yes) And then you’d ask what we call an NEPQ Probe; “Why do you feel it would though?”
What’s the one mistake reps make that costs more sales than any other?
JM: The vast majority of sales reps are frustrated and not closing the amount of sales they would like to. It's not because they don't have what it takes to be effective salespeople, but rather the sales training they learned to sell with is outdated, or they haven’t even had any training at all.
In fact a great deal of today's sales training is still anchored in concepts from the 1980's or even date as far back as the 1920's - and no longer works with today's savvy consumer.
The lesson here is that sales in today's era is changing at such a rapid pace, that salespeople can't rely on the bare minimum of training that gets provided to them upon joining a company. To ensure a successful sales career, you’re best placed to seek out mentors and coaches who have navigated the new and complex world of sales that we now live in.
When I finally grasped the need to switch up my training, is when I went from making almost nothing as a sales rep to then having 12 straight years where I earned multiple seven figures per year in straight commission as a W-2 rep. Truth is, every moment someone isn't taking action on their education to learn this new knowledge - is money being lost.