What is subliminal persuasion?
The word subliminal means below consciousness.
So, subliminal persuasion is simply influencing people at a level below their conscious recognition. It is influencing people with more than just words. It is the power of what lies behind or beneath the language. It makes use of the plain word's normal message in combination with a lower level of conscious cognition to effectively influence a person's decision-making or line of thinking.
(Covert language is covered towards the end of this page)
Why use subliminal persuasion?
Truth is, you can't not use it.
Every time you communicate with words you are sending other messages non-verbally whether you are aware of them or not. So, why not communicate an effective sales message both verbally and non-verbally?
In fact, in this modern world, subliminal persuasion techniques are your weapons. They help you gain an advantage in a market with tough competition and keep you ahead of the game. Dave Lakhani who has written a number of books about persuasion and influence has said,
"Persuasion that looks like persuasion isn't persuasive anymore."
A prospect buys when they feel good about the decision to buy.
Since we are dealing with feelings there is a subconscious element to persuasion. As a salesperson you provide your prospect's unconscious mind with feelings of comfort and enthusiasm about buying while at the same time providing logical reasoning so the conscious mind can rationalize that choice.
To begin any effective sales interaction your prospect needs to be open to the conversation and have some trust in what you say.
In that respect doubt is the enemy of persuasion.
Since your primary function at the beginning of a sales call is to help a prospect feel comfortable about talking to you and believe what you say you need to be establishing rapport and trust.
The most effective rapport building techniques are subliminal persuasion.
I have written about this in my e-book, "Sales Rapport".
There are other subliminal factors that influence believability.
For instance how you dress. You need to know what works for you and especially make the connection from what you are selling, the industry that you are in and what you should be wearing to gain maximum effect from the people around you.
An appropriately dressed salesperson shows respect for the prospect they are visiting and gives the impression that they care about how they look and perform this instills in the prospects confidence in their message.
Your prospects are evaluating your confidence, competence and your motives during the sales call.
You could be the most competent salesperson in the world but if your prospect suspects that your only motive is to make money from them you are unlikely to make a sale. Likewise, if you don't know your product well your prospect is likely to doubt much of what you say. When you present your product and its benefits you need to appear congruent. That is to say your non-verbal message backs up what you speak.
For example, a salesperson standing in front of a prospect saying in a weak voice somewhat meekly and with a questioning tone that this product would be of use to the prospect is not very convincing. There is a lack of congruence in the message being sent.
There are important lessons for salespeople in the above comments. Know your product well, learn the benefits it offers to its users and that will show through subliminally in your sales presentation. Your motives also shine through readily as you present your offer. So if you want to be more believable and make more sales you need to focus your attention on helping the prospect rather than making dollars for yourself.
I know a salesperson here in Australia who is the leading salesperson in her industry. She is impeccably dressed, always prompt and efficient and nobody in her industry knows the industry, the players in the industry, the regulations and the products as well she does. Consequently she is the most successful, highest-paid salesperson in this industry in Australia and constantly headhunted by overseas companies.
I wrote earlier that people buy when they feel good about the decision.
You improve your chances by making the prospect feel good to start with. Some people call this the law of association. A former colleague of mine used to always bring doughnuts when he went to see his biggest customer. It became somewhat of an event. As soon as he arrived people could smell the fresh doughnuts and someone would go to make the coffee and he would mill around talking to the decision-makers at the company. This is a very powerful subliminal persuasion tactic.
There is also a lot of subliminal persuasion that can be used in your language as you present your offer.
There is a lot of truth in the saying, "it's not what you say but how you say it".
The way you use intonation and inflections in your language has a large bearing on the meaning of what you say.
I'll give you an example below:
It is easy to assume that a sentence like "I can't promise you that price." has only one meaning. In reality, though, inflection provides much of the actual meaning. Look at the each of the sentences below, each with a different word emphasized, and followed by the implied meaning.
I can't promise you that price. (But maybe someone can.)
I CAN'T promise you that price. (There's no way.)
I can't PROMISE you that price. (But maybe you'll get it.)
I can't promise YOU that price. (But I can promise someone else.)
I can't promise you THAT price. (But maybe a good price.)
I can't promise you that PRICE. (But I can promise something.)
The meaning of our statements is determined by which words we emphasize, and it is a subtle process.
Think about the intonation we use in uttering a sentence. Basically, we have three choices. As we say something we can finish the sentence with:
An upward voice intonation
An unchanged voice intonation
A downward / deeper voice intonation
Try it for yourself. Let's pick a sentence to say. "You want to buy this."
If you repeat that sentence and speak the last two words in a higher pitched voice it sounds like you are asking a question. In fact there are languages (e.g. Italian) where you indicate you are asking a question by the intonation of the sentence. And guess what; these languages use that same higher-pitched voice tone to indicate a question is being asked.
Next, say that sentence keeping your voice tone constant. Different, isn't it. That tone is indicating you are making a statement.
Finally, utter that same sentence again but say the last two words louder and deeper. This is command tonality. This command tonality is well utilized by hypnotists and can, of course, be used in hypnotic sales techniques too.
How is this useful in selling?
Well, when you make a comment like "This product is the one you want". It has very little positive impact if you utter it with a question type tonality. In fact, it sounds like you are asking a question and are not really sure if it's a good product or the best one to use.
Mind you, you can use questioning tonality to your advantage. Say your customer tells you she is using Acme brand material (your competitor). If you reply with "You are using Acme brand?" with that upward inflexion in your voice, I can just about guarantee you that your client will ask "What's wrong with Acme brand?". To which you can just reply "Oh, nothing." They will, of course, still be wondering what's wrong with that brand.
I mentioned above that if you say a word lower and louder that is command tonality.
You can carefully construct sentences emphasizing certain words with a command tonality that spell out what you want people to do. These are called Embedded Commands and are an extremely effective subliminal persuasion technique.
"When clients hire my firm, John, all the work we do is to get resultsright now."
Your prospect's unconscious mind hears, "hire my firm, John…get results…now"
Put enough of these sentences together in a sales presentation and it will markedly improve your sales results.
Also you can use presuppositions to subliminally influence your prospect to do your bidding.
What are presuppositions?
Presuppositions are the linguistic equivalent of what most people call assumptions.
They are what must already be assumed to be true for the sentence being made to be true or to make sense. Presuppositions are what must be assumed rather than what is directly stated.
To use presuppositions, think of what you want your influencee to accept as fact, then construct a sentence that presupposes it. You can stack presuppositions to make them even more difficult to resist.
The power of presuppositions can be quite amazing.
Let me give you an example.
Using presuppositions is the difference between saying,
"Is there anything you find interesting about our product?"
"What do you find most interesting about our product?"
The first sentence above almost presupposes that there is nothing of interest. Whereas the second sentence presupposes that there are a number of things of interest and the listener has to choose between them.
I discuss these subliminal persuasion techniques in my book "Sales Language"
Of course, subliminal persuasion is a big topic that cannot be completely covered on one webpage but hopefully I've given you some tools to work with.