We're all in sales whether we want to believe it or not. When was the last time you had to sell your boss or colleagues on an idea you had, or put together a proposal to increase your project budget? When was the last time you had to convince your kids to do something they should have been doing anyway? Whether you are selling a product, a service, a concept or simply influencing others to get to your desired outcome-you are selling!

I find the following 5 step sales process an easy framework to use and remember:

1. Establish and maintain rapport
2. Understand your client or prospect
3. Establish a need/establish value
4. Link the need/value to your product or service
5. Close the sale

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is the study of excellence and excellent communication and how to reproduce it. Your ability to communicate effectively is key to your success in any sales interaction. So, let's consider each of the steps in the 5 step sales process and see how NLP fits in.

1. Establish and maintain rapport
93% of what we communicate is done so unconsciously. It's important then to be aware of how you are communicating so that you can consciously build rapport. Maintaining eye contact when you are speaking or listening to another person is one way to stay connected. Leaning forward and tilting your head slightly to one side when you are listening demonstrates that you are fully engaged and listening to the other person. Matching and mirroring body language, voice and words is another way to build and maintain rapport. Any resistance you encounter simply means you haven't established enough rapport and a good indication to go back and build additional rapport. Building rapport is the first step in achieving better results in sales or in any communication interaction.

2. Understand your client or prospect
The best way to understand your client or prospect is to ask lots of open-ended questions. Asking questions will allow you to get to know your client/prospect better and will allow you to identify if there is a need for your product or service. Find out what's important to them, how they think and process information. Watch their eye patterns as they answer questions to see where they go inside to access internal information. Notice the predicate words they use most often. Do they prefer visual words and descriptors like "I see, I can imagine" or do they have a preference for auditory words "I hear what you mean", "That rings true for me" or are they most comfortable with kinesthetic phrases like "I get what you are saying" "I feel your passion". Having a good grasp on your client or prospect's needs as well as understanding their communication style and preference will better prepare you to communicate with them in a way that will resonate with them.

3. Establish a need/establish value
Once you have established a need, you need to establish value. Would they see any value in solving their problem, or improving their situation? Reinforce their value proposition by asking something like: "Then it would be valuable for you to solve this, wouldn't it? Is this something you would be interested in or not?" This is an important question as they may have a need but not see any value in solving it. Most sales people waste 80% of their time on people who don't buy. You want prospects/clients who will buy so ensuring they value solving their problem is essential to your sales pitch.

4. Link the need/value to your product or service
In the sales process, you are really not selling a product or service. You are selling an emotion. 90% of our mind is unconscious, emotional or irrational while only 10% of our mind is conscious or rational. We think that it's our rational mind making the decision but the fact is that all our memories, feelings and emotions are stored in our unconscious mind. And most of our decisions are made unconsciously. Connecting with your prospect's or client's emotion is the key to your ability to successfully close the sale. For example, a prospect looking at buying a new house may see value in a walk-in closet. You connect her to the feeling she will have when she wakes up in the morning, walks into her closest and feels great about being able to easily see and pick out her clothes in the morning. That feeling will connect her to the house you are selling.

5. Close
If you have successfully followed steps 1 to 4, the close should be easy. Simply ask for the order. Assume the sale all the way through and look for the win-win opportunity.

In the selling process someone is always buying. Either the prospect is buying your product, service, proposal, idea or you are buying the objection. The question is, who is the better salesperson?

Author's Bio: 

Linda Cattelan is an Executive and Career Acceleration Coach. Linda has helped thousands of career professionals alleviate stress, avoid burnout, get their priorities clear, regain control of their career, and heighten their performance, focus and readiness for the next level. If you are looking to get unstuck and make a huge difference in your career, Linda can help you. Sign up for her free eReport: 3 Surprising Reasons Your Career is Stuck in Neutral and What You Can Do About It: http://www.resultscatalyst.ca/stuckinneutral.html