5 minute expert guide to selling yourself to clients and businesses

We look at how Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques can be used to help you sell yourself and your business

For many people, the word selling creates the image of an aggressive and pushy person attempting to force something on you that you don’t want! The average sales person is seen as a ‘fast-talker and hard-closer’ and accountants are not in this business. But the word ‘sell’ comes from the Norwegian ‘selje’, meaning ‘to serve’ – so selling is really serving, which is very much the business of the accountant.

How to create an NLP model of a ‘selling tax consultant’

Tax co’s accountant Andy obtains new business from target clients as follows:

Stage 1 – Setting achievable outcomes
Andy wants to obtain chargeable work from a client, therefore he identifies an appropriate contact within the target organisation. Contact quality is crucial in ensuring an appropriate level of authority for commissioning work.

Stage 2 – Perceptual positions and neurological levels
Before approaching the contact for a meeting, Andy ‘puts himself in their shoes’ to consider how he could best serve (sell) to them. This involves considering the contact’s likely values, beliefs, skills and knowledge, and enables Andy to produce a ‘script’ for arranging a meeting and overcoming objections to using Tax co.

Stage 3 – Rapport building and representational systems
At the meeting Andy gains rapport with the target client by using appropriate questions and listening skills to understand the client’s problems. Andy also:

  • establishes his credibility, and impresses the client by stressing that Tax co does not sell tax accountancy but rather profits and a problem-solving approach
  • secures agreement to a free brainstorming day on international tax-planning ideas – investing in the development of the relationship by giving a favour.

Stage 4 – Meta model and Milton model language patterns
At the brainstorming Andy is the centre of attention. Other partners use the term ‘we’ to position themselves behind the credibility of Tax co. Andy makes his presentation personal, using ‘I’. Andy sells himself to the client, while highlighting Tax co’s successes.

Andy specifically:

  • delivers some interesting ideas, prioritised in order of benefit to the client
  • obtains the client’s agreement to work on the best ideas for a fee.

Stage 5 – Goal achievement Andy ensures Tax co uses whatever resources are necessary to achieve the outcome, including specialists from its international network, meeting key objectives of a high-quality product, produced on time and to budget. In addition, Andy lets the client know that more ideas would be forthcoming which would form the basis of an ongoing relationship.

When forming relationships, Andy uses metaphor to deliver large amounts of (technical) information in an understandable manner. For example, he describes money as energy: money coming in is an energy flow, debt is lost energy and a tax shelter is stored energy. This enables Andy to present a complex situation in an understandable metaphor, helping him keep a clear image of the big picture while discussing the detail.

Chris Cain is a certified trainer of nlp and regional director at FTC.

"The word ‘sell’ comes from the Norwegian ‘selje’, meaning ‘to serve’ – so selling is really serving, which is very much the business of the accountant"