The Unfair Advantage

"So why do you see different results? The answer is found in your words and how you use them"

- The Unfair Advantage, page 2

Duane Lakin is a psychologist and business consultant with over thirty years of experience serving business leaders as an industrial psychologist. Since the mid 1980’s he has been looking at ways to make NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) useful to sales people. The Unfair Advantage is a book that is targeted towards sales people who want to learn how to be more effective and successful at selling. Specifically, this book answers the question in the intro quote: Why are some people more effective as change agents and getting others to take action than others? Duane outlines NLP techniques that use linguistic and non-verbal patterns of communication that have led to consistent success and are seen amongst people that are considered top sales reps. The idea is that by following the same linguistic and nonverbal patterns of communication that lead to consistent success, any person can create change and be successful in communicating with others. This book will be of value to any sales rep regardless of experience level, as long as the reader is willing to spend the time to learn the techniques most needed for them and ensure that they clearly understand how to communicate with the different language preferences.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

It’s the words, not the message

"Your choice of words can either invite resistance or it can create trust. If you invite resistance, no one will hear your ideas. If you create trust, you gain the confidence of you audience. People will listen to what you say"
- The Unfair Advantage, page 30

Have you ever had the experience where you say something and people are reluctant to agree, but then someone else in the group says almost the same thing (maybe a few words were different) and people were all of a sudden more open to considering the idea? Duane suggests it is the words, not the message, that can create the resistance experienced when people are not on the same page. People have different preferences for communication (kinesthetic, visual or auditory) and while many of us have a preference, we usually have one that we favor over the others and this is used most commonly in our day to day speak.

I really found this section of the book helpful because it applies to both the written and spoken word. This is applicable to my prospecting efforts because at work it is common practice for our team to share best practices about what emails or voicemails elicit the most responses. In the past I would just simply apply something because it was said to work without ever realizing why. Now this information has allowed me to take that a step further and make sense of why these strategies worked and confidently come up with my own that increases my response rate.

Why not try a new approach. When prospecting a new account try sending an e-mail that contains a mix of kinesthetic, visual, and auditory language and see if you get more responses. (Keep in mind you that have to get them to open the email first so a catchy subject line may be needed.) Once you know their preferred language preference you can tailor future messages to them more accurately.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life


"Remember selling requires the skill to read your clients, speak their language and sell them as they want to be sold"
- The Unfair Advantage, page 74

I found that becoming conscious of the type of words people use was one of the differences between this book and other sales books. One of the techniques I found really interesting was the notion of pacing, leading and then pacing again (it takes practice!) as a means to avoid objections or increase overall agreement. One way to avoid objections is to break the pattern and avoid their preferred language. Pace their initial word choice to build rapport and then lead them to a different language to bypass resistance.

Consider making five calls matching a prospect’s communication at the beginning of a call and then change your language style to a different one for the rest of the calls before asking for the order or next appointment. Next, try five calls without this specific strategy and note the difference. Record the number of objections and how you feel each call went and then compare to see the difference.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Past purchases

"We all have great reasons for buying products, services, or ideas. The only problem: those reasons usually come after we have decided to buy"
- The Unfair Advantage, page 104

This gives some food for thought for salespeople selling a product or service because it serves as a reminder that the customer has purchased in the past. This is a great point because it develops the strategy that the prospect will buy based on their past purchasing decisions. If they bought a house once, they will buy a house the same way. The next time around the buyer may ask better questions or analyze the details more completely, but the actual buying decision will follow the exact same strategy as before. Therefore, find out how the person bought the last time.‎ I found this advice useful because it gives some direction as to what type of questioning to apply to experienced buyers so that I can better understand how to help them this time around. This is crucial because as a salesperson you often run into multiple variables that determine whether someone will buy your product or service or not and having a tool that ads more predictability to that process can enhance the salesperson’s confidence and shorten the sales cycle‎.

The Unfair Advantage is for those who want to learn specific strategies to get better results from their communication. This book is not about asking specific questions to get your customer to buy, it is about understanding their preferred form of communication and finding a way to get in sync with them and ultimately get the sale. If you are interested in learning tools and techniques that are not typically taught as part of a sales training program, the information found in this book will help you take your game to the next level.

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Marc Gaudett

ABOUT Marc Gaudett

Marc was born and raised in Scarborough, ON. He completed a Physical Education and Health degree with a minor in Psychology from The University of Toronto...
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