STOP selling on your terms. START selling on theirs.

Stacey was talking about her ‘failure’ to land a client…

“I must be charging too much or else I said something to turn him away. I thought Jon was ready to sign the contract, but it’s been three days and he hasn’t contacted me yet.

“Wait a minute, Stacey. You can’t just assume that things have fallen through like that. There are lots of reasons why he might not have got back to you. Have you tried calling him?

“No.” Stacey’s voice was glum. “This is what happens all the time. I think prospects are excited to work with me, but then they disappear.”

Stacey was making a common assumption that was killing her results… and her enthusiasm. Maybe you have caught yourself thinking the same thing:

She assumed that her prospects were as preoccupied with this one problem and its solution as she was.

What is Goal Setting?

The truth is that whatever problem you solve for clients is just one aspect of their business. They are busy fulfilling their responsibilities and solving a range of problems so even if the problem you solve is urgent, it’s not the only thing they are thinking about.

How to Handle This Reality and Make Everyone Happy…

  1. Follow up consistently. If necessary use more than one mode of communication. Your desire not to be a pest may be holding both you and your prospect back from achieving your desired outcomes. Presumably you have already had a conversation during which your prospect demonstrated their need of a solution and you explained your expertise in that area. Therefore, you already have a clear invitation to be involved. Don’t back away until they tell you to do so. Silence does not equal rejection.
  2. Ask questions and discover exactly what your prospect needs to make a decision. The chances are that their decision making strategy is different from your own and it’s your job to discover what it is and tailor your communication to meet their style.

These two simple techniques can transform your business results because suddenly you discover that the problem was never your solution or your price, it was ‘just’ a communication problem.

The Importance of Communication in Business… Not Just in Sales

I coach a lot of management and project teams, as well as sales teams because effective internal and external communication lies at the heart of business success… and is responsible for many failures as well.

Here are some of the key elements required for successful communication:

  1. Understanding your own preferred communication styles and strategies;
  2. Identify others’ preferred communication styles and strategies;
    Effectively use a variety of communication styles and speak to different strategies;
    Ask questions so you discover what people are really thinking rather than assume you know that;

When I asked Stacey how she responded when people seemed to ‘disappear’ and whether she followed them up and asked questions like ‘What do you still need to help you make a decision?’ Stacey’s expression said everything I needed to know.

She was judging her prospects by herself. Since she made decisions quickly after one discussion and hated saying ‘no’ she assumed that silence meant, “I’m definitely not interested but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”

Things might not have changed, but she was facing a real shortfall so she decided to call Jon and ask him if he was still interested in her proposal.

“You were right. He wasn’t trying to shut me off!” was Stacey’s text to me that afternoon.

Communication is just as important in teams… and it’s even more important to know what it takes to get your team members on board since you’ll probably be working on many new ideas and projects over time. 

Maybe you only need to hear an idea once before you evaluate it and make a decision, but Sally needs to hear it at least three times… and Jim will need to be reassured constantly that it’s the right move. Once you understand the dynamics you’re dealing with you can build your communication around them and you’ll find it easier to get the support and resources you need.

Communication Makes Good Things Happen

You won’t win every deal, and you won’t get support for every idea, but if you know how to identify other people’s communication styles and strategies, ask good questions that enable others to express their opinions and needs, and have a variety of tools to help you communicate effectively you’ll soon discover that more exciting things happen around you than ever before.


Have you ever wondered why some people seem to get on really well with almost everyone, while others are constantly complaining about the way other people treat them?  The answer probably likes in the flexibility of their communication system.

I used to have a very fixed idea about how people who liked me would communicate – it included smiles, positive words, and general encouragement (all good things, by the way).  The problem with my inflexibility in this area was that if someone was pre-occupied and didn’t really notice me one day I’d think I must have offended them which made me feel bad, and try to make things right.

As I studied and practiced Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) I realised that the problem wasn’t that I had an overpowering desire to be liked – the real problem was that I had such limited flexibility in my communications that I couldn’t really distinguish between people who were pre-occupied and people who didn’t like me.

We all have some people around us who we genuinely dislike and disagree with, but we also have a much a much wider group of people with whom we just ‘don’t really feel comfortable’ – and this is mostly a question of flexibility in communication.

Glass, Perspex, and Rejection

Which is stronger: – glass or perspex?  Most people in my Confident Closing workshops will say glass – although the engineering / practical types will ask questions about thickness and treatments.  Theoretically it’s true – glass is the stronger substance, but it’s not as resilient as perspex.  Resilience is a key characteristic in communication and relationships.

Because glass is brittle, if you put enough weight and pressure on it – it’s going to break.  Whereas the perspex has got some flexibility and so it’s actually going to be able to withstand more pressure.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a business owner, or just want better social relationships you need to become more like the perspex than glass if you want to survive and thrive.  You can guarantee that challenges will come your way at one point or another.  If you’re flexible, you’re able to deal with the situation more congruently, more resourcefully.

Communicating So That Others Hear You

When you focus your communication on the other person, you’ll quickly realise the truth of the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) principle that says, “The person or the system with the most flexibility will be the one that controls the system.”  If you want to control the outcome of your conversations and sales meetings then you have to able and willing to respond appropriately in any given situation.  This means you have to be flexible in your use of communication tools – not tied to a script or even an outcome, but focused on the other person.

When you focus on your prospect, or your client and really listen to their communications – the words they use, their gestures, and tone of voice – you’ll pick up the cues you need to close more deals.  In some cases you’ll realise that your product or service isn’t appropriate for them, or that they’re just humouring you and that’s fine too, because the quicker you pick that up, the faster you can get out of there, and the less time you’ll waste.

What Do I Mean When I Talk About “Flexibility in Communication”?

We all have a preferred style of communication based on our filters [Link to post].  It doesn’t mean that this is the only way we communicate, it just means it’s our preferred style – and that style includes our choice of words, the speed at which we speak, and the gestures and tones we use.  The more we can use matching and mirroring to reflect the style preferred by the person we’re talking to, the more likely we both are to come away from our interaction feeling understood.

Flexibility involves understanding our own preferred communication style, and become observant when we are around others so that we can become aware of their preferred style of communication.  The more we do this, the more we will find that others like and understand us, and we like and understand them.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) focuses heavily on recognising communication patterns, and it’s one of the things we teach in our Confident Closing Workshop at Life Puzzle.

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By popular demand we have turned many of our multi-day workshops into multi-week online courses with a live day to kick them off. Learn more at


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