Reframing – turning ‘not interested’ into ‘sold’

The practice of re-framing – the re-stating of an idea, position, proposition or problem (lets call it the ‘point’ of your communication) using different terms to evoke a different perspective for the audience, is one of the most powerful tools available to a sales professional – and one that all sales people must master.

The idea is that it is not simply the re-wording of the point being made – but the ‘re-defining’. You are not merely choosing different words with the same meaning because your prospect didn’t seem to ‘get’ the words you initially used – you are actually seeking to define the ‘point’ in a changed frame of reference or context more (and ideally, totally) aligned with the prospects perspective. Of course, this technique can be applied to many things – including selling – but is also common in politics and anywhere where ideas need to be conveyed and embraced.

A simple example may suffice: Say you are selling a box on ‘price:performance’ and the audience just isn’t buying it – it could be that they don’t care so much about cost but are VERY concerned for reliability and availability (this may be indicated by their existing choice of box – or by the very nature of their business). A simple re-frame might be “The real value of our box comes from the fact that at our prices, customers with the need can readily run multiple redundant systems at comparable cost to running single-point-of-failure configurations from other vendors. For those needing highest system availability, high levels of system redundancy is clearly the best path.”

With that reframing – the sell is now about reliability/availability, something this client is sensitive to, and with the added attraction of being able to run redundant devices just like the Internet/Military/Aerospace industry does (choose the best fit for the client) you have not only caught their interest but increased the size of the deal!

Key to mastering the ‘art of reframing’ is to understand that there are as many potential perspectives as there are people in the audience – so to win over that audience may require more than one reframe. Naturally such reframes should not be contradictory – they must support each other.

As with so many things these days – there is a lot of useful study material on the Internet, and I would recommend reading the following to develop your own understanding of reframing and its applicability. Here are some I think worthy of your time.

Of course, you may want to browse around from these places – and explore the likes of Milton Erikson and the evolution of NLP – worthwhile in my view.