Anchoring in Sales

You may be thinking, “What is Anchoring?”

The word may not be familiar to you especially in relation to anchoring in sales but I’m sure you'll recognise the process once I give you a few examples.

This phenomenon was first noticed by an American doctor (Dr. Bill Twitmeyer) and popularised by the work of Dr. Ivan Pavlov (does that name ring a bell?).
Pavlov’s famous work was to give a dog some food and simultaneously ring a bell.
After doing this for a while whenever the bell was rung, even if no food was present, the dog would salivate.

This is often referred to as Stimulus – Response.

It was not until the late 70’s that Richard Bandler and John Grinder noticed that humans behave the same way. It was part of their development of NLP.
NLP in Sales was a later development

So, whenever you experience an intense emotional state it is almost certain that your mind will link something else in your environment to that feeling.

Perhaps you doubt this?

Let me ask you what happens if you look at some old school photos?

Perhaps your memory takes you back to some distant time and you feel good or bad depending on the specific memory you’re experiencing.
Let me ask you another question.
Do certain songs or movies remind you of a childhood sweetheart?
What about perfume? 
Does a certain perfume have a marked effect on you; perhaps it triggers a memory of some special time?

OK. So, maybe we do experience Anchors.

If you remember I touched on Anchors Before 

 "Big sales Part 2" was an article I wrote some time ago when I talked about using anchoring with a client of mine.

Let me quote:

”During the meeting with the buyer every time he started to talk about the opposition product I kept reminding him of the problems he would have keeping supply of this product and the problems created by stock-outs.
I would then talk about our offer and how much easier it would be for him to manage the stocks.
(I was anchoring good feelings to my product and bad feelings to the competitors.)”
At this early stage of my career I was not using Anchors optimally.

The power of Anchors lies in the fact that we can ... set up Anchors intentionally!

Whenever someone is experiencing a strong emotion or state it is likely that they will link anything unique in their environment to that experience.

Not only does this work when we are experiencing something but it works when we are re-experiencing something in our head, if the memory is intense enough.

There are many things we can set up as Anchors:
A certain location, like the restaurant where you went on a first date.
A certain smell, like grandmas apple pie cooking.
A certain sound, how do some Vietnam vets react to the sound of a helicopter?
The feeling of comfort you get wearing an old sweater may be as much related to the things you’ve experienced in that sweater as it is to the sweater itself.


How do we use anchoring in sales and why is it useful?

There are two ways you can use anchoring in sales.

And, by the way, it's worth mentioning that Jordan Belfort (a.k.a. The Wolf of Wall Street) used anchoring on himself quite extensively.

Firstly, you can use anchoring to manage your own state.

State management plays a vital role in your success, as highlighted by Jordan Belfort in his book "The Way of the Wolf". And anchoring is a very effective way to manage your own state.

The idea is to block out negative thoughts and emotions to maintain a positive state of mind. For example, when you have a strong state of certainty, act your best and set yourself up to make the sale. Conversely, being in a poor state hinders access to your resources and leads to failure.

You may have been told to shout "yes" while clapping your hands and thinking positive thoughts about a sale this is a form of anchoring.

The four states often mentioned in relation to improving your sales performance are:

  • certainty
  • clarity
  • confidence and
  • courage.

The process for setting up an anchor is as follows:

  1. Identify the State: Determine the desired state or emotion you want to anchor. It could be a positive state like confidence, motivation, or happiness.
  2. Choose the Anchor: Select a physical or sensory stimulus that will be associated with the desired state. This could be a touch, a specific gesture, a word, a visual cue, or even a unique sound. I have used touching my thumb and ring finger together as it's a move that is not used any other time and it's discrete enough not to be seen by a prospect. 
  3. Elicit the State: Recall or imagine a time when you experienced the desired state vividly. Remember the associated sensory details such as the sights, sounds, and feelings. In fact, this works better if you are actively experiencing this state for real
  4. Apply the Anchor: At the peak of the desired state, apply the chosen anchor stimulus. For example, if you chose a touch as an anchor, touch a specific part of your body or apply pressure using a specific finger.
  5. Break State: After applying the anchor, momentarily shift your focus away from the desired state. You can do this by distracting yourself or engaging in a different activity.
  6. Test the Anchor: To check if the anchor has been established successfully, fire the anchor by applying the chosen stimulus again. You should experience a partial or complete reactivation of the desired state.
  7. Reinforce the Anchor: Repeat the process multiple times to strengthen the association between the anchor and the desired state. Each time, make sure to elicit the state fully and consistently apply the anchor at the peak.
  8. Utilize the Anchor: Once the anchor is established, you can use it whenever you want to access the desired state. Apply the anchor stimulus intentionally, and you should experience a recall or reactivation of the associated mental or emotional state.

Remember that practice and repetition are crucial for effective anchoring in sales. Additionally, anchoring works best when the desired state is intense and vividly experienced during the process.

You can read more about anchoring here ... NLP Anchoring 

3 NLP Anchoring Techniques to Get in The Right State of Mind

Secondly, you can use anchors to influence the state of your prospect

Here is another way you can use anchoring in sales.

Say you are talking to a client and you ask her what sort of car she drives and her eyes light up and her tone of voice changes as she talks about her Mercedes SLK. 

You may then ask, “Was buying that car a good decision?” 
When you get a strong positive response anchor it to a unique sound or movement you make.
Perhaps pushing your glasses up higher on your nose.
Do this several times as you ask for more details about what they like about their favourite car. (This amplifies the feeling.)
Then change the subject and talk about something with no emotional content. 
Later, when it comes time to ask your client for the order, repeat the exact same movement (pushing your glasses higher up), your client will feel good without really knowing why.
This will greatly assist you in getting an order.

How useful would it be to be able to control the emotional state of your client?
Used correctly, Anchoring can do this for you.

During your sales conversation you should uncover what your prospect wants and smart salespeople often repeat back to them those needs in exactly the way the prospect spoke them.
This creates rapport (an unconscious connection between you and your prospect)
Causes your prospect to feel understood and generally elated that someone understand them.
Using anchors to make them feel this way when it's time to close is a classic subliminal persuasion technique.

If you combine this with some hypnotic sales language your closing ratio will improve dramatically.

This is just one of the many skills covered in influence and persuasion.

You can also anchor someone to a feeling using your voice tone.

I had a number of clients where our meetings almost invariably started with chatting about the weekend.

I would always sit in the same chair opposite them at their desk.
If they had a really good weekend I would talk in a certain tone and place my left hand on a certain spot on their desk.
Conversely, if they had a lousy weekend I would talk in a different tone and place by right arm on the arm of the chair I was sitting in.

Then I’d change the conversation to business. 

When the client and I discussed our opposition products I’d talk in the tone I’d anchored to their bad weekend while I sat with my right arm on the arm of the chair.
However, when they spoke about the products I was selling I’d put my left hand on the appropriate spot on their desk and talk in the tone I had associated to their good weekend.

The use of Anchors is quite widespread.

Do you remember Johnny Carson?
He was the host of the Tonight Show for almost 30 years before Jay Len took over in the 1990's.

Each night that Johnny came out he stood on a small star that marked exactly where he was supposed to stand.
It was the best spot on the entire stage for camera angles, connecting with the audience and because of the curtain back drop, we knew without seeing Johnny's face that he was there and not a guest host, who would stand on a different star.
The only thing Johnny ever did from this specific location was to make people laugh.

He didn't wander around the stage and tell his jokes.
He stood right there and made people laugh.
There were many nights when Johnny literally could just stand on his star and people would laugh.
That is spatial anchoring.

Audience laughter was anchored (conditioned to) Johnny's standing on his star.
Many may have thought he was just being vain and hogging the best place on the stage.
Oh, no. Johnny was using anchoring.
How well did Anchoring work for Johnny?
He was on air for 30 years, wasn’t he?

A salesman friend of mine always took cake or donuts with him when he went to visit his biggest customer.
How do you think most people in that office felt as they saw him coming up the path to reception? 
He was anchoring good feelings to himself, wasn’t he?

So, to make Anchors work you need to:

So, to make Anchors work on your prospects you need to:

  1. Get your prospect thinking about / experiencing some emotion.
  2. Help the client get into that emotion. Amplify it.
  3. Attach a movement or voice tone or location or posture to the feeling ( good or bad )
  4. Move the conversation away to other topics.
  5. At the appropriate time use the anchor to recreate the emotion you want your client to experience.

Don’t take my word for it.
Try this approach for yourself.
Experience how effective it is.
If you have any difficulties, feel free to contact me for some sales coaching so you can make better use of Anchoring.

In the meantime. Here's to YourSalesSuccess.