Blog

If NLP is Dead, What Now?

Although neurolinguistic programming (NLP) was invented back in the 70’s it was during the 90’s that it began its meteoric rise to fame. Unless you’ve been hiding under your desks for a decade or two you will have been unable to escape this trail-blazing acronym. Hailed as the sales and marketing Holy Grail, NLP quickly became the buzz word for any company pitching their services to any human. If you didn’t mention or use NLP somewhere in your copy you may as well have broken into the Natural History Museum and slept with all the other dinosaurs.

Tim Newman, Telemarketing Specialist

The Telemarketing Company

If you’re one of the people who has indeed barricaded themselves under the desk for a couple of decades here’s how Wikipedia explains NLP in brief:

“Neuro-linguistic programming is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s. Its creators claim a connection between the neurological processes ("neuro"), language ("linguistic") and behavioural patterns learned through experience ("programming") and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life.”

Over the years, as a company, we’ve used (and still use) some of the less blatant and salesy tips and tricks NLP has to offer. Simple behaviours like using open questions to encourage detailed answers and matching a customer’s pace are very effective in the world of telemarketing and always have been.

Along the way we’ve also come across some of the less professional NLP tools; for instance, stuttering so that a customer has to really concentrate to understand what you’re saying, or pausing for unnatural lengths of time to force the customer to speak. Those last examples are, of course, techniques worth swerving.

The term “NLP” has slowly waned in popularity from bold type to small print over the recent years, but it is still promiscuously prevalent; a quick search of LinkedIn shows that more than 35,000 people in the UK still have the acronym stamped on their profile, so people obviously still have a warm spot in their heart for this devilish pseudo-art.

Performers like Derren Brown started to popularise NLP at the beginning of the new millennium; all of a sudden mainstream TV viewers were being shown how us feeble brained humans could be manipulated using discrete audio and visual cues. The cat was out of the bag, could NLP ever work again now that a wider audience was aware of how susceptible they were?

A quick Google search will find you plenty of companies claiming that an NLP-based script can improve sales/leads by “80%” – that’s pretty hard to swallow, but it’s proof that there is still a bit of money to be made in the sector.

NLP can never be swept fully under the carpet. As a concept it is unbelievably broad, covering subtle techniques right the way through to the downright ludicrous.

I guess the real question is, with attention waning and fashions shifting, should we still be using NLP at all? The most obvious point is that if something works then it doesn’t matter how fashionable or unfashionable it is, it should be used. The water is muddied in NLP’s case due to its sprawling breadth and scope. What aspect of a sales pitch / training technique doesn’t in some way roll on to NLP’s turf?

The success of NLP in telemarketing isn’t just the dissemination of specific techniques to telemarketers, it is a myriad of factors. The simple fact that management, trainers and coaches are taking the time to pass on knowledge is a positive and uplifting exercise for those brave telemarketers facing their first calls of the day.

The business’ willingness to transfer knowledge to frontline staff is often enough to give a telemarketer the oompf he needs, regardless of content. That feeling that your company is bothering to spend time and money to pass on nuggets of info is motivating, bolstering and positive.

Yes, of course, if you’re going to force feed your staff avant-garde guff they’re not going to get anything out of it, but any serious attempt to improve performance will have an effect, whether you have your A+ master-ninja-10-star-NLP certificate or not.

Having read a few threads on various sites asking the question “what will happen when NLP dies?” I have realised that the only people who will truly miss it are the practitioners and those whose income relies on it. NLP has become part of the fabric of telemarketing and general sales training. The term “NLP” itself might slowly die off, but its tendrils will forever be squirming in the minds of trainers and coaches. Some skills now attributed to NLP (like matching tone of voice and using similar language to your customer) have been around since long before neurolinguistic programming was termed.

In conclusion, no one can say NLP is ineffective, and if you put effort in to boost morale and share the load, performance is likely to improve. Whether you’re gently brainwashing the customer or accidentally brainwashing yourself, the result will be the same: positive.

Related articles

You know your audience, but do you understand them?

You know your audience, but do you understand them?

Thursday, October 17, 2019
Find out more
Artificial Intelligence – a force for good or bad?

Artificial Intelligence – a force for good or bad?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Find out more
Telemarketing, Telesales, Inside Sales: what's the difference?

Telemarketing, Telesales, Inside Sales: what's the difference?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Find out more
‘All change’ – How can financial services organisations grow their customer base?

‘All change’ – How can financial services organisations grow their customer base?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Find out more

Our full range of telephone services

Data Services

Do you want to improve data quality, increase marketing ROI, and ensure GDPR compliance?

Data Cleansing
Data Cleansing
Expert data cleansing creates clean, accurate and compliant data that matches your target audience
Read more
Data Enrichment
Data Enrichment
Data enrichment delivers the insight needed to connect better with your target audience
Read more
Email Opt-ins: GDPR
Email Opt-ins: GDPR
Boost engagement and ROI with consent based communications
Read more

Pre Sales Research

Do you need actionable insight to inform your sales and marketing strategy?

Pre Sales Research
Pre Sales Research
Arm your sales and marketing teams with clear customer intelligence and accurate data.
Read more

Telemarketing

Want more opportunities to drive revenue?

Lead Generation
Lead Generation
High-quality lead generation at every stage of the customer journey
Read more
Call Handling
Call Handling
Professional outsourced customer service. We can provide your customers with an expert, personalised service – making every interaction count
Read more
Appointment Setting
Appointment Setting
Successful appointment setting requires meaningful human interaction with senior decision makers
Read more
Lead Management
Lead Management
Drive value by improving lead flow, quality and conversion
Read more
Event Marketing
Event Marketing
Strategic event marketing can generate higher demand and deliver greater value.
Read more
Lead Qualification / Nurture
Lead Qualification / Nurture
Move leads through the funnel more strategically with our expert lead qualification and lead nurturing services
Read more

Sales

Is your sales strategy driving the results you need?

Telesales / Inside Sales
Telesales / Inside Sales
The quality of your Inside Sales skills can be a key differentiator in a competitive market.
Read more
Account Based Marketing
Account Based Marketing
Smart account based marketing helps to increase profitability, reverse churn and increase customer lifetime value.
Read more

Post Sales Research

Is your customer intelligence keeping pace with your business goals?

Welcome Calls
Welcome Calls
An effective welcome call helps to create a foundation for a lasting relationship. Retaining customers costs less than acquiring them, so it makes sense to have a robust retention strategy in place – starting as soon as a prospect is converted.
Read more
Customer Satisfaction
Customer Satisfaction
Measure customer satisfaction and gain a more nuanced view of your customers’ experiences through phone-based surveys.
Read more
Treating Customers Fairly / Compliance
Treating Customers Fairly / Compliance
An FCA authorised and regulated business, our expert team can help you meet your TCF compliance needs with greater confidence and increased customer insight.
Read more