SPECIAL EPISODE 005: Performance Improvement Expert Ramzy Ayachi Shares Three Ways Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Will Improve Your Sales Efforts
RAMZY’S CLOSING TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Notice something different about your interaction with your current prospects. Notice something that’s meaningful, notice something where you’re starting to connect with them on a different level than you had before. When you do that, it begins the process of unfolding for you almost a new dimension of understanding. When you have that, now you begin to master yourself.”
On this special episode,we’re talking with mindset and performance improvement expert Ramzy Ayachi. He empowers others with hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to release self-limiting beliefs, achieve desired outcomes and create resourceful states to achieve peak performance. He’s the chief learning officer at Peak Performance Associates. Prior to getting into this space, he had a 20-year career with the Marines.
Today we’re going to be talking about sales mindset and how you could use techniques and take your sale’s mindset or take your sales performance and career to the next level by really achieving a higher level and more effective mindset. What type of mindset to you need, how do you have the most effective beliefs to ensure that you can take your sales career to the next level.
Find Ramzy on LinkedIn!
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you give us a little bit about your background? Tell us how you got into this space and then let’s start talking about mindset and NLP development.
Ramzy Ayachi: Absolutely. Just like you were mentioning on the intro, I started in the marine core and served. Very interesting career, I did a lot of aviation stuff and I also did a lot of fort air controlling stuff. Fort air controlling is essentially using big planes with big bombs to drop them on targets when your little pistol and your rifle doesn’t work anymore, you call in the big stuff so learning how to control those missions was something that I did, I functioned as, as well as teaching other people to do it. Great time, learned a lot about myself, learned a lot about being in a peak performance mindset.
A lot of the type of activities that I participated in required very intense focus, very intense determination and very outcome-oriented. In many cases, failure was just not an option so you had to learn how to generate the mindset that was going to help you achieve that goal.
Fred Diamond: When did you leave the Marines and tell us about your transition. First of all, thanks for your service, by the way.
Ramzy Ayachi: I appreciate that, thank you.
Fred Diamond: You’re welcome. Tell us again about when you left the Marines and how you made the transition into this space helping not just sales professionals but business leaders as well optimize their performance.
Ramzy Ayachi: It was an interesting path, one that a lot of my peers when they discovered what I was doing, they kind of looked at me strangely and they had an interesting look on their faces, like, “What is it that you’re doing?” Most of them had gone into sectors that looked very similar to what they were doing when they were active duty. I left active duty in 2014 and when I was in that state of transitioning I actually was kind of stuck. I had my own limiting beliefs and it was actually through NLP that I was able to overcome those limiting beliefs, move forward and really in many cases I had become very accustomed to having a regular job, a regular paycheck, all the trappings that are associated with knowing where your paycheck’s coming from.
Fear was a very strong motivator and I discovered that I didn’t like that motivator anymore, so what I wanted to do instead was to have certainty come from within and not from paycheck. Through NLP I was able to overcome that fear, team up with Monica Marusceac and the two of us put together Peak Performance Associates and our other practice as well. It was a challenging time, it was definitely a time that you had to remain focused and a time that you had to become very comfortable with uncertainty, and for many people that is very difficult for them to do. That’s how I got into it. I’d always been interested in teaching, mentoring, I did a lot of instruction, I did a lot of evaluation, I did a lot of mentoring with young marines and also just being a flight instructor during my time in active duty.
For me it was a natural fit, it was a natural evolution and when I came to this, teaching people how to be in charge of their thoughts, how to direct what the outcome was going to be and not feel like they were just on the rapids of life whether it was in sales environment, whether it was in their own professional environment or just people dealing with life issues.
Fred Diamond: Sounds great. Your company has done tremendous work. Let’s get some definitions straight so that people understand where we’re coming from. Two key words that we’ve already used – at least I have a dozen times each – are mindset and neurolinguistic programming, NLP. Why don’t you give us your definition of mindset and then give us your definition of NLP?
Ramzy Ayachi: Mindset I would very concisely just describe it as the focus of your body, and if you think about your senses and how you’re taking information, your five senses, you see, you hear, you feel, you smell and you taste. Your mindset is actually the input that comes into your body and when you’re able to direct what and how it is that you sense the information or how you experience the information, actually. That’s where your mindset comes into play and many people feel like your mindset is just the brain and what it is that you’re hearing or seeing. It’s actually the accumulation of all those senses so when a person is tuned and they’re in the proper mindset, they actually elicit the state, their entire body elicits the state that is directed and focused on whatever that outcome is.
I like to describe it from that perspective. The other question that you asked was what is NLP. If you break down the word itself, just the components of the word neuro-linguistic programming – neuro is of the mind, how people think. Linguistics is actually the study of language, the study of words and the meaning behind words and the effects that come about from words. neuro-linguistic programming is actually a marriage of both, how the brain thinks, the patterns that we all have as humans regardless of whatever the environment is and also the importance of words and how you can help other people create different meaning from what it is that they’re seeing.
There’s a real famous quote and the gentleman is Alfred Korzybski and he says that the map is not the territory. It’s a very clear way of describing that. As humans, we experience what we consider to be something subjective. We don’t know that it is, we feel like it’s our own reality and we feel like everyone else is experiencing the same version of our reality when in fact we’re just experiencing what it is that our senses are telling us and who’s to say that that is actually the reality? So when you understand the patterns that are involved – specifically in this line, the patterns of human excellence – you begin to see how you can change those patterns and then also help people to change whatever patterns they’re having so that they can then change the experience that they’re having in their mindset like we talked about before.
Fred Diamond: Let’s get started. What are some of the things that the Sales Game Changers around the globe need to know to be more effective at sales?
Ramzy Ayachi: Probably the first thing that’s most important is the rapport between the human-human interaction. A lot of people talk about rapport, they say, “Yeah, you need to establish rapport” but many people don’t understand how to do it most effectively and in many cases, just to use the business term, we leave a lot of money on the table by not understanding how to communicate in all the non-verbal ways.
For example, the discussion of rapport. When you use techniques that are NLP centric, you’re actually able to guide the conversation or guide the desired outcome in the direction which is mutually beneficial for both people. You can actually guide an outcome so that it’s win-win, it’s not a 0-1 game, it’s a 1-1 game and when you do that you’re adding a lot more value to your customer, to your clients, to your prospect. You’re also adding more value to your own company that you represent.
Fred Diamond: Give us some examples of what that looks like.
Ramzy Ayachi: One of the easiest things – and many people probably heard about this – is just the simple active matching and mirroring body movements. Some people, they kind of go, “Yeah, I got that.” But understanding it cognitively is totally different from understanding it in your behavior and there’s a certain nuance to matching and mirroring body movements that’s important to understand and it all happens on a subconscious level. Many people feel like everything they’re doing and saying is happening consciously when you actually get the most influence when you’re communicating on a subconscious level.
For example, this is a very common example, if you’re seated across from your prospect and you’re having a discussion with him and it may be an initial discussion and that prospect has got their legs crossed or their hands folded, you begin to match what they’re doing and mirror what they’re doing as well. Matching means that you’re doing some form of it, maybe not the same exact thing. Mirroring means that when they move their right hand, you’re moving the hand that’s directly opposite and mirroring exactly what they’re doing as if you’re looking in the mirror.
What it’s doing – this is not just an exercise and some elementary school game. What it is is you’re actually subconsciously communicating with your client that you care about them. That, “Hey, I get you. Hey, I’m part of your tribe, I understand you.” and they’re processing that on a deeper level where they’re now more accepting to anything that’s following along. That’s the super easy one. Many people kind of clumsily go through that process but it’s so important to master it and it’s just something very easily that you can do and practice and like anything else that you get good at, the more you practice, the more you wire it into your nervous system.
Fred Diamond: Tell us again why that would be helpful in sales, this particular strategy.
Ramzy Ayachi: Sure. Many times when you’re coming into contact with a client they’re going to have all the stuff going on in their life, they’re going to have all the pressures from their initial interaction or their expectations of that conversation and so when you match and mirror, you bring down their level of resistance. You facilitate fewer objections in the initial conversation and you allow any following conversation to be much easier so the act of matching and mirroring what it does is it brings down their objections and whatever pre-conceived notions that they may have towards you, towards your product. And maybe in many cases make them more open to the concept of using what you have to offer and being more valuable than the product that they have in place.
Fred Diamond: OK. That’s a basic level of way that NLP can be applied. Why don’t you tell us some more deeper ways and some more significant strategies that a sales professional can employ to be more effective?
Ramzy Ayachi: Sure. The next one, just moving down the list of the big ones, would be hearing the tone of their voice. For example, when someone’s speaking to you, if they’re speaking very slowly you want to be able to match their tone of voice as well. If they’re breathing in a very slow, methodical, controlled manner you want to do the same thing so you’re physically matching what they’re doing in their body, you’re also matching what it is that they’re saying. The pace that they’re saying, the tone that they’re saying, maybe even the volume that they’re saying. So the person who may be a client, if they’re a person that is perhaps technically oriented and they’re used to speaking like this, you may find it easier to communicate with them by adjusting the volume of your voice as well.
Then if it’s someone who’s more gregarious, more outgoing, maybe a manager that you can raise your voice – not in defiance, but in an effort to match. Again, you’re showing that you’re part of their tribe, that you get them. People and humans, all humans are looking to match with other humans that they are alike with. By just adjusting the tone, the volume, the pace that you speak.
Fred Diamond: OK. Can they be on to you? Meaning like if the customer’s talking slowly, this is our challenge type of thing and then you’re kind of like an upbeat sales person and then you kind of bring it down a little bit, will they know that you’re doing that or does that really not make a difference?
Ramzy Ayachi: It’s something that if it’s very glaring it’s going to be noticeable, it’s going to be a huge distinction. If it’s something where you very in small amounts you begin to adjust and modulate yourself, then it’s going to be something that’s completely imperceptible to them. It’s imperceptible consciously, but it’s very perceptible subconsciously and again just like John Asher’s EQ training, people are interested in what’s in it for them, how’s this going to benefit me. The more you can communicate to their level of the value in it, the more you can begin to shift into their same state, the more you’re going to be able to meet that need for them and lower the threshold for objection, just like I was saying before.
Fred Diamond: OK. How about the next level?
Ramzy Ayachi: The next thing that you can do is you can actually match or mirror the emotion. For example, there’s a client that I had, she got very nervous. She was a real estate agents and as many real estate agents know, a lot of times your first initial encounter with people is over the phone or it’s via internet so it’s somewhat impersonal. Then they meet a client in person at the house for the very first time and it may be that person is someone who is a difficult client, a person that’s very emotional, a person that gets very excited about stuff. In those instances, matching their emotional state is very helpful because it gives people the knowledge that you get them and it gives people the knowledge that, “OK, if I’m acting very excited and very emotional, this person is not going to judge me and they’re not going to stay in this different space.”
Now, from this place and from this matching of emotional states or moods for example, you can then pace and lead someone to a different state. That’s for a different topic, a different day but for matching and mirroring if someone has a lot of objection or someone begins to complain, you can also match what they’re saying and say, “Yeah, you know what? I would be mad too that this heater has not been repaired and perhaps we can figure out a way to wrap this into our contract when we submit our offer” just as an example. I’m matching their emotional state, their frustration with what’s happening with the house and the state of the house.
Then I’m leading them and then I just used a very key word there, I used the word and. And it’s much more effective to use that word – just as a side note – than it is to use the word but, so you want to flow through and carry them to the next outcome that you want which is, “Hey, let’s get the contract in and we can use this for…” whatever that thing is.
Fred Diamond: What should a sales leader be doing and or thinking to make their teams more effective using some of these skills? What should their overall thought be? Should they be devoting week long trainings every month? How could they start to begin to deploy and employ some of the techniques that we’re talking about today to have their sales teams be more effective and have taken their business to the next level?
Ramzy Ayachi: That’s a great question. What we have found is that the best thing to do is to have an initial exposure to this information. One of the best things to do after you have that initial exposure and typically our trainings are one or two days. Some of them are half days of very brief topics like what we’re talking about today, but after that the practice is really where the proof is in the pudding.
The practice would be just as similar as an Olympic athlete. A sales professional is an Olympic athlete in what it is that they’re doing and if an Olympic athlete doesn’t train daily, they’re not going to be good. If a sales professional doesn’t train daily – and when I say train daily, they could just have real quick 30 minutes, “Hey, let me sit down and go over this scenario with you, how would you respond in this? Let’s practice matching and mirroring. Let’s just practice to see what that time difference is and how we can finesse it so it can seem more realistic.”
That’s an ongoing thing. As long as there’s human interaction on a daily basis, you can practice it as frequently as that. The more you practice it, the more it gets wired into your nervous system and that really is the basis of how this stuff sticks.
Fred Diamond: From a sales leader perspective, understanding this, is it something that is going to give them an edge, going to give them an advantage? Will this replace prospecting skills training or how does this complement how they want to help their team become more effective at the sales process?
Ramzy Ayachi: The process for many people is very conscious work. Step one, get on the phone. Step two, go into your CRM and update your CRM. Step 3, follow up. The work of NLP is the glue, it’s the subtlety, it’s the nuance that complements the process so if you viewed the house foundation and the studs are up and the framing’s done on the home, that is the sales process. And hopefully let’s assume for this conversation that the sales process is intact, it’s a solid home for a lack of a better term. The finish, the fit and the finish and the polish-ness of the interior, the hardware, the flooring, the cabinetry, the carpeting, all that stuff, those very subtle nuances that make the difference between something being rough and tumble versus something that’s very sophisticated, that’s the difference of having NLP incorporated into a training program.
In many instances, the increase in sales has been exponential for people that begin to practice. And again, it’s not something that I they have to invest gobs of time in, they don’t have to invest hours and hours every day. Just a simple 30 minute exercise daily with a team after they have their daily meeting if that’s part of their battle rhythm, they can practice these things and work towards making them much more fluid and skilled. If you viewed it as a language, we’re never done learning. Our minds are never done learning and the moment that we feel that we’ve got it all figured out is when something shows up and it teaches us another lesson. The same thing happens in sales where when people put it into play every day it actually gives them the opportunity to make adjustments and feedback.
Fred Diamond: Ramzy, do you have any examples maybe of where this has worked very well? Maybe a client without mentioning the name if you don’t need to? Can you give us an example of where the process actually did take some of the sales people you’ve worked with to the next level?
Ramzy Ayachi: Absolutely. An IT software team that we were working with, a lot of them were very knowledgeable about the topic and the product and the service but not real comfortable with approaching people and especially this area where we live, there are a lot of providers so there’s a lot of competition. For them, they had to overcome their mindset of, “Oh my gosh, there’s a lot of competition” and the way that we did that was through a combination of conscious work which is a process that we strategize with them and also the subconscious work of allowing themselves to be aware of these subtleties of communicating with other people. One of the things that we noticed as a truism for this team, they began to take the focus off themselves and they began to put the focus on to who they were serving, and when they shifted that focus they became aware of the way that they were sitting and it facilitated their matching and mirroring.
When they took the focus off of themselves, they began to notice the moods that they were in, their client was in and they took that focus and now they’re able to adjust it and keep moving the conversation in the direction of closing that particular sale. When they took the focus off themselves, they began to notice the pace and the tone and the volume of their client. All these things came into play by slowing them down and taking the focus off themselves and then systematically refocusing on their client and with that refocus came the awareness of what actually their client was communicate to them and they were able to then provide value and meet the need of their client in a manner that surpassed who the incumbent was. Once that happened, they got the job.
Fred Diamond: Ramzy, that is extremely impactful, I’ll tell you why. One of the main themes that comes across in the Sales Game Changers podcast is the way you need to distinguish yourself today because of the competition, because of the transforming customer, because of all the noise is by bringing a huge amount of value to your customer that you haven’t brought before. Some of the ways that we’ve uncovered that is by truly understanding your customer’s business and coming to your customer with solutions to help them with their business, not just, “Here’s how my product is going to help you” but, “Here’s some things you could be thinking about” to help your customer achieve your goals with your customer, your customer’s customer, if you will. One of the key ways that we’ve heard through the Sales Game Changers podcast that can make that happen is by being a more effective listener as compared to showing up and wanting to talk about your features and benefits and how you can help them. The shift goes towards how your customer can get more value from the relationship. What you just mentioned is a very succinct and crisp tactic to further embellish that and further make that happen.
Ramzy Ayachi: Absolutely, and if I could just make a refinement to what you just said, it’s about becoming a very powerful active listener and when we talked about mindset before, if you view your body, your entire body and your entire awareness that you’re taking information as essentially an antenna, when you’re completely tuned in on all levels – even the smell, the olfactory sense – you can see so much is not being communicated. When you see all of that, you’re able to then notice where changes can be facilitated for the benefit of your client.
This is most of the time we’re in process mode, we’re just trying to push this ball down the field but we’re not present so our minds are in the future, we’re usually fueled by fear and by worry and, “Oh my gosh, this is not going to happen, I need to keep the pressure on this whole deal” but we’re not fully present with our client. The client will know when you’re there with them, when you’re not anticipating what you’re going to say next. They are very aware of that so it’s extremely important to be an active listener. Not just a listener, but a person who’s listening on all senses and when you have that ability and that mastery, you will be by far and clear head and shoulders in front of the competition.
Fred Diamond: Ramzy, give us some of your ideas, some of your thoughts on how the Sales Game Changers listening can truly be present. Some of the techniques, strategies, tactics that you work on so they can be truly focused on their customer so they can truly bring value and of course, sell more.
Ramzy Ayachi: Absolutely. One of the first things as the actual sales representative, the easiest thing that I would suggest to do that you can put immediately into action is just allow yourself to breathe. It’s that simple. Most people when they’re in the middle of a sales process, if you were to monitor them with very expensive machinery you would notice that their breathing has become very shallowed, become very nervous and they’re actually holding their breath in many instances. The best thing for you to do as a person who is having interaction with a prospect or a client is to breathe and when I say breathe I don’t mean breathe like you’re going to the doctor’s office, I mean breathe like it’s coming from your belly and your belly extends fully and you fully oxygenate your blood. You also release a lot of endorphins and OxyContin in the body and what that does is that relaxes you and the relaxed mind and the relaxed body, the relaxed full version of you is able to hear much more clearly. That would be step #1 for someone who is a sales professional to breathe, let it come through your belly. Let your belly extend first and then your upper chest. That’s step one.
Then for follow-up, once that’s happening, your awareness and your antenna becomes much more perceptive and receptive to stuff, and you can easily put this into action as well: when your client is listening or you’re speaking to your client and they begin to speak to you auditorily, so through the ears, they’re speaking to you and they begin to give you clues. The clues allow you to anticipate what your next step is going to be, and their clue is very simply – this may be the most important thing we say all day – very simply, if they begin when you ask them a question to look up, they’re primarily a person that is thinking about things and visualizing stuff. They’re visualizing solutions, they’re visualizing what’s this going to look like when I have to pitch it to the boss. What am I going to see when I accept this product? If you know that they are a very visual person because their eyes are accessing and queuing upwards, what happens is that you can speak back to them in that same sensory modality.
Now, on a very subconscious level, they’re connected with you again. You re-establish that rapport. A person, again, speaking while they’re looking up, their eyes drift up – and there’s a difference whether they’re constructing an image in their mind like they’ve never seen it before or something they’re remembering from the past, it’s beyond the scope of this discussion – but simply their eyes moving up is telling you that they are a person that says or thinks in images. You can very easily say back to them, so let’s say, you go, “Hey, Fred, what do you think about this proposal that we were talking about?” And your response may be, “Well, I kind of see how that would be helpful”.
My response to that would be, “Well, I can see how it would be very helpful for you. Have you ever thought about looking at it this way? Maybe we can view another option for you.” On a subconscious level, this is all moving under the radar. It’s connecting with you and you’re feeling a lot more like I’m part of your tribe, just from speaking that same language. It would be the difference between you speaking Chinese and me speaking Spanish and not being able to communicate when I’m speaking and saying something auditorily in that example. The next thing in that you can put simply into place is the auditory component. A person, client or prospect who speak to you and their eyes stay either mid-level or they look both left and right laterally, for most of the population, what they’re doing is they’re accessing something that they’ve heard before so a client, when they say something like, “Well, sounds like this is a good idea.”
Your response as a sales professional would be, “I can hear that this really resonated with you”. Now we’ve linked up again on a subconscious level, I’m part of their tribe, they feel much more close to me. Then finally one of the other ones that is very useful is just the active, the client looking down and to the right. So let’s say you’re speaking to them and they look down and to the right. What the sales professional notices is they’re actually accessing something that they feel. The very typical example of this is like a car salesman. A car sales professional will invite their customers to sit inside of a car because once they sit in the car they feel the sensation of being in a bucket seat with genuine Corinthian leather and all the accoutrements of a new car and they begin to smell also the new car smell which has an effect on the limbic system, so all these elements on a kinesthetic level are connecting.
The sales professional will say something back to them like, “That feels pretty good, doesn’t it?” and the client would probably go, “Yes.” As they’re speaking, they’re kind of looking down here recognizing that. These are ways to communicate that are totally under the radar but they’re totally connecting with the client or the prospect and you’re able to keep moving and pacing and leading the outcomes so that’s a win-win situation like we were talking about before. So breathe, notice where their eyes are – up, visual to the side, left and right auditory and then down is the kinesthetic response.
Fred Diamond: Ramzy, you’ve given us some great information today. A lot of the Sales Game Changers listening to today’s podcast, they do most of their sales on the phone. There’s been a big shift where sales of course, moving inside not just for prospecting or the BDR role, if you will, but also sales in a lot of cases has moved inside. How does NLP work on the phone as compared to live? What are some of the differences that the people need to be thinking about out there?
Ramzy Ayachi: That is a great question, Fred. The best thing to do – what’s interesting is you’ll notice, and this is something on the hypnosis side of the business, when the eyes are closed, there is a very large tuning process that happens auditorily. Your body compensates and your body begins to generate stronger awareness in the senses that are available. For example, in the scenario you just described, the client or prospect, you’re doing a phone call, you are more attuned by doing it by repetition to what it is that they’re saying. Especially the tone, the pace at which they’re speaking, the moods, all that stuff can be detected through the phone and it’s easy to make adjustments as based off of that.
Mind you, we’re not getting the visual cues, you’re not getting the kinesthetic queues, but still they will speak to you and even if you’re on the phone and they begin to reveal to you how they process and whether their strategy for buying is auditory, is it kinesthetic, is it visual? A lot of clients even though they’re on the phone, they’ll reveal to you what the strategy is so you can still speak back to them and their same strategy.
Fred Diamond: How about if they’re using Skype or Zoom or something like that? Can you still utilize some of the NLP techniques that we talked about in the beginning? Are there differences that you want to be conscious of if you’re having, again, a Skype type of a conversation with a prospect?
Ramzy Ayachi: In 99.9% of the stuff it’s the same. Actually, you have more sensory input with Skype or Zoom so it just gives you more ability to tune in to what they’re experiencing.
Fred Diamond: Mindset is one thing that comes up all the time, how do you have the most effective mindset to be effective? Ramzy gave us some great advice on how to utilize skills found in NLP – neuro-linguistic programming to take your sales career to the next level. Ramzy, I want to thank you for the great insights you shared with us today. Why don’t you give us one final thought that we need to get across to the Sales Game Changers listening to today’s podcast to help them be more effective?
Ramzy Ayachi: One thing that I would say is that the awareness and the communication that happens between people is so powerful and I think on many levels we try to communicate in such a limited fashion and I want to invite everyone in in some ways a soft challenge for you to allow yourself to notice something different. Notice something different about your interaction with your current prospects. Notice something that’s meaningful, notice something where you’re starting to connect with them on a different level than you had before. When you do that, it begins the process of unfolding for you almost a new dimension of understanding. When you have that, now you begin to master yourself in just like the first step and EQ for John Asher’s course, self-mastery. Once you’ve done that now you can move on to leading other people to do the same.
Fred Diamond: This is really powerful, it really complements a lot of themes that we continue to hear from the Sales Game Changers that we talk to on the podcast. One of the key trends, of course, is how do you provide more value to the customer and how do you be more effective at letting them lead the way, in a way. You’re leading them but letting them lead the process by getting to their needs, getting to their challenges, getting out of you and getting into the mind of your customer.