Working in sales, especially in commission-based sales, has earned a reputation, perhaps unfairly, as being one of the most difficult careers to succeed in. Each year, countless numbers of people enter commission-based professions such as real estate, insurance and consumer goods only to end up burned out and discouraged.
For Jeremy Miner, his sales career began the same way more than twenty years ago. But the difference is that Jeremy is one of the very small percentage that went on to reach earnings that grew well into the seven figure range.
That eventually led him to training other sales professionals the methodology he developed, which he calls Neuro Emotional Questioning. Jeremy’s company, 7th Level, now trains thousands of salespeople globally. We caught up with him to get insight into what exactly Neuro Emotional Questioning is and how it is helpful to anyone wanting to succeed in sales.
How did you get your start in sales?
Jeremy Miner: As a salesperson who eventually got to earning just under $3 million a year in commissions, it’s important that people understand I wasn’t “born” a seven-figure sales person. When I first got into sales about 20 years ago, I was a broke, burned-out college kid.
My first job? A commission-only gig, pounding pavements selling home security systems door to door.
After dosing me up with one weeks training and tossing me a script, they dropped me off in a random neighbourhood, and were like, “Hey, go make some sales.”
I started knocking on doors, talking to prospects and the objections I got felt like an avalanche of ‘no’s’ pelting me from all directions. After eight weeks of what felt like a really bad rendition of ‘Groundhog Day’, I sat on a curb waiting to be picked up by my sales manager. I was utterly exhausted with nothing to show for my efforts but the sweat rolling down my back. Two months in, my grand tally was: three sales.
Maybe selling just wasn’t for me.
Now, imagine me evolving from this, to eventually earning $3 million a year in straight commissions as a salesperson for 12 years straight – across three completely different industries! Yet on this sidewalk, I’d hit rock bottom and almost quit sales for good. Here I was 21 years young, not making a bean, and why? I’d not learned the right skills.
Turns out, when my sales manager finally picked me up that night, he popped in a Tony Robbins CD. It was something Robbins said that changed the course of my life forever. He asserted that, “most people fail for the simple reason they don’t learn the right skills necessary to succeed.”
A light bulb flicked on like a megawatt ultrabeam in my head! Could it be that what the company taught me weren’t the right skills? Or could be they were just old and outdated?
From then on, I started studying communication techniques that work with human behavior and very quickly the pieces started coming together. I systematically began reengineering the traditional-sales ‘push’ dynamic, with methods I learnt from human psychology.
Neuro emotional questioning is one of the persuasion techniques you train sales teams on. Can you give a high level overview of what that is?
JM: My major at college was behavioral science and human psychology. I recall one semester we focused on neuroscience, the study of the brain – and how human beings make decisions and how and why people are persuaded – or not persuaded. Turns out there are three forms of communication, with varying degrees of persuasion.
We’re the least persuasive when we tell people things or push them into doing something we want them to do.
An example is Presenting. We’re taught to have a great presentation, to ‘show and tell’ how great our product is. But the data shows, if you’re spending too much time on your presentation, you’re less likely to make the sale. Why? Because It’s very low on persuasive pull.
The second form of communication is consultative selling. We’re a little more persuasive when we attempt to have a discussion.
Consultative selling was developed in the late 1980’s. It centered around asking logic-based questions to find out the needs of the client. The downfall with this approach is, logical questions invite logical answers. Meanwhile people’s buying decisions aren’t based on logic but emotion.
The third mode of communication is when we’re the most persuasive. It happens when we allow others to persuade themselves.
Also called dialogue, which happens when we ask what I call neuro-emotional persuasion questions (NEPQ). If you’re wondering how a person might be led to persuade themselves, the answer is, by asking specific skilled questions, at the right time in the conversation, within a structure that’s scientifically designed to trigger prospects to sell themselves.
Why is the outcome different when a salesperson harnesses neuro emotional questions when speaking with the prospect?
JM: Neuro emotional questions allow your prospect to persuade themselves. Unfortunately at least 80% of salespeople are taught to sell using the first mode of communication mentioned. Approximately 18% are trained to sell using consultative selling. Less than 1% of salespeople actually utilize a dialogue process.