The History of Sales Techniques

When we are taught new sales techniques, we often think that they’re the latest and greatest. Taught by the old “sales gurus,” these techniques are promised to work like a charm. Or, we’re handed a script on our first day as a salesperson for a company, and think that naturally, this script should help to persuade prospects. When Jeremy Miner, the CEO of 7th Level Communications, first began as a salesperson, he noticed something: all of the methods he had been taught were entirely ineffective.

For one, they contradicted everything he was learning in his Behavioral Science major in college. He knew that humans are more likely to be persuaded when they persuade themselves. In fact, humans buy based on emotion, and they can only persuade themselves if they’re emotionally invested in both the problem that your product solves, and the potential of the solution if they solve it.

Miner learned how to guide prospects through this emotional process using NEPQ, or Neuro Emotional Persuasion Questioning. Written in a way that assists the prospects in doing most of the talking (and therefore, most of the convincing), this form of sales is effectively the “New Model.” And it’s working. After years of trial and error, Miner made $2.4 million in one year of commissions from this model, and is now teaching his students how to do the same.

So, why doesn’t current sales training and regimens represent this same method?

The History of Sales

 “We all have our own default skill level based on the training we’ve received and the effort we’ve put in to develop those skills. So, I always like to tell my students: if you’ve been struggling to close sales, it’s not your fault,” Miner shared. “Why?  Because you’ve been taught OLD, OUTDATED sales techniques.  These techniques were developed decades ago, and they very rarely work on most people.”

Decades ago, indeed – in fact, the very same sales method that is used most commonly today (we usually think of it as the “pitch” or the “presentation”) first originated in 1898. You read that right. The majority of salespeople are still using methods that originated over a century ago – in fact, Miner says that 99 percent of all salespeople use this method.

“You might remember the movie called “Glengarry Glen Ross”, where Alec Baldwin’s character hollers, “coffee’s for closers”!” began Miner.  “Well… it came out in the early 1990’s.”

And while the 1990’s are closer in our rearview mirror than 1898, there’s a pressing consideration here.

“I want you to seriously think about this.  Does the consumer of our time buy with the same or have the same buying behaviors as the consumer did in 1898?” posed Miner.

 The 1898 Method of Selling.. That’s Still Used Today

This method was called the AIDA method of selling, created by St. Elias Elmo Lewis. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. This name refers to the hierarchy of what the customer goes through from the moment they first become aware of the product (attention) to when they have the (desire) to take action. While this all sounds well and good, it is actually a wildly ineffective method of selling, because it consists of telling the customer that you know better than them.

Trying to elicit interest, desire, and action can’t always be done by cramming information about what the product or service is down their throats. Miner says that people actually hate being told what to do… and usually won’t do something if they’re told to do it. They have to convince themselves… which is where Neuro-Emotional Persuasion Questioning comes in.

Miner helps his students learn how to emotionally guide prospects to convince themselves they need what you’re selling. Whereas the AIDA method consists of the salesperson continuing to talk, talk, and talk some more, NEPQ requires the prospective customer to do most of the talking. “I tell my students that the prospect should be speaking for 80 percent of the conversation,” said Miner.

We are more likely to persuade ourselves when we hear the words coming out of our own mouth: in the NEPQ case, these are words regarding the problem we are facing and why we need the solution.

Miner has succeeded in developing a new, revolutionary mode of selling that’s on par with how consumers think today. To learn more about his course, visit