Chapter 1 - Overview of the Green Light Model

"How do you do it, Don?" Her face wore the same perplexed expression I had seen on the faces of countless rookie sales people. "When you do it, it seems so easy."

Behind my back they said I was a natural born salesman. I knew I wasn't. I learned just like everyone else. Now, after over 20 years of selling, I seriously considered the question. "How could I teach others how to make the sale time after time?"

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) training was the key that I needed to make this communication technology available to anyone who wants to learn to sell professionally. NLP gave me the tools to model great salespeople and sales managers and understand what was actually causing them to be successful. NLP modeling allowed me to sort out the "differences that made a difference" between their winning behaviors and ordinary sales people's occasionally successful behaviors.

The top people are consistently the 20% of the sales force that bring in 80% of the business. The 80% of the sales force that brings in 20% of the business are typically using ordinary social skills that force them to work hard for little reward. As a mentor of mine once observed, "Even a blind monkey finds an occasional banana". Modeling is necessary to separate personality (which is interesting, but not necessarily important to sales success) from behaviors and responses that are critically important to sales success.

NLP was the key to training methods that allow the transfer of these discoveries to anyone willing to experience the discomfort of learning new behaviors. Learning concepts and catch phrases in seminar situations is much different from developing new behaviors that can actually change the results of the next sales interaction. There are wonderful speakers, books and tapes with absolutely valid concepts and ideas available to everyone who wants to take the time to study them. But until these ideas are embedded in your automatic behaviors, they will not change your daily sales results. NLP training methods allow people to change their responses immediately and permanently.

For example, most sales people are great ‘talkers’ and marginal ‘listeners’. Most salespeople know that they need to be better listeners. Some have even taken "Effective Listening Skills" courses. Those skills do not necessarily become an integral part of their sales activity. NLP training techniques make it possible for a naturally poor listener to become a great listener in their next sales call. Not only do they actually listen to the prospect, the prospect is aware that they are really listening. Every skill that is necessary to become a top sales performer is represented in the Green Light Selling model, and can be delivered with NLP training techniques.

What Makes a Sale?

The world is full of prospective buyers of your goods and services. But what makes the sale? Once I began picking apart what successful salespersons did, I realized it isn't necessary to teach more about products in order to show others how they can sell better. The key is in the structure: How you present the information and the order it is presented in. All salespeople can benefit from a fuller understanding of the structure of selling. Green Light Selling helps you gain insights into this concept of structure. Whether you have been a salesperson for a long time or you are just getting in the field, the Green Light Selling model presented here has the potential to revolutionize your style of selling much as the invention of the automobile revolutionized transportation.

First, you must change how you approach the very basics of how you sell. Changing your focus on what happens during a sale causes a change in your perception and subsequently an improvement in your sales abilities. Focusing on the structure of the sales situation automatically makes you more effective. All people who enter the field of sales have probably, at some time, riveted their attention to product description. They may have learned the ‘buzz words’ and ‘trade secrets,’ and then used them to present their product or service in a way that sometimes did and sometimes did not result in a sale. Using the times that were successful as a basis, they then decided which method worked for them and then continued to do more of that.

In fact, less successful salespeople usually use that same method over and over whether it fits their current customer or not. That is how they lose sales. For example, they may have decided that what worked was presenting a good demonstration. This is effective for about 25% of the population. Or, they may have decided that the best technique was telling everything about their product. This works for about 20% of the people. That leaves 75% and 80% of the time when their selected approaches lead to dead ends. No sales. Those are pretty high odds in favor of failing!

No single sales gambit or technique works on all prospects! Salespeople tend to repeat what they have learned whether it accomplishes what they want or not. The difference between successful salespeople and the rest is in what they repeat. Successful salespeople don't just repeat techniques, they follow a winning sales structure. There is one structural model that usually works for everyone. That structure is the Green Light Selling model and following it will work for you too!

The Strength of Structure

There is a natural order to the way an objective can be accomplished. Consider how a house is built. The basic structure begins with a foundation, moves to the floor and walls, and eventually ends with a roof. There must be adequate support at the base for the roof to balance properly. Leaving out any of the required steps in the building process can make the whole building unstable. Following all the steps results in a solid building that lasts for many years. Once the house is finished, the inside may be filled with a variety of furnishings which reflect the owner's individual style. Wallpaper, paint, and accents make the structure warm and personal inside. A soundly built structure remains intact even though the contents may change many times during its lifetime.

In the same way, an effective structure for selling follows a natural directional flow from entrance to exit and creates a strong selling foundation. Leaving out even a single step can weaken the structure and jeopardize your chances for making a sale. The Green Light Selling model is a blueprint for a properly built selling structure with an entrance, five steps, and an exit.

As you carefully follow these steps in your daily selling, you will find that most of your qualified opportunities will produce sales. Just as the basic structure of a house remains the same, the Green Light Selling model remains the same even though the words or content varies from person to person and product to product.

Understanding the Green Light Selling structure may be difficult or easy, depending on your natural way of thinking. If you do not ordinarily pay attention to structure, you will find this book especially helpful.

Amateur Versus Professional

"Amateurs hope. Professionals work."
- Garson Kanin"

In any field, there is a noticeable difference between practiced amateurs and professionals. Amateurs may begin their approach just as professionals by doing Step 1. Both may continue following Step 2. After Step 3, a little irrelevancy may creep in as a prospect mentions a recent trip to Hawaii. The amateur may respond by mentioning their Hawaiian trip, also. The two may continue talking about vacations for a while. One topic leads to another and soon the sales amateur feels as if they are good friends. In fact, an amateur may consider they are such good buddies that, at this point, he attempts to close his sale. The prospect will then usually back off quickly and say, "I need to think about this a little more. Say, can we get together some other time?" The amateur's common mistake is either forgetting a step or thinking the rest of the steps are unnecessary.

Know Where You Are

It is imperative to know where you are in the selling process at all times. When using the Green Light Selling model, you must start at the beginning with your Entrance and follow ALL 5 Steps to your Exit at the end of your transaction. No matter how many side excursions you take, you MUST always come back to the step you were on when you left or you will probably lose the sale! If you attempt to build your roof before your walls and foundation are complete, you'll end up having to tunnel your way out in the dark. Remember, Entrance, ALL 5 Steps, then Exit. When you finally reach your Exit, you'll know you have covered all the relevant material in a specific order.

Here lies the difference between the Amateur and the Professional…

A professional never skips steps!!
We suggest that you learn the 5 simple steps of the Green Light Selling process. Make sure you always use each one in the proper order. If you decide later to add steps or rearrange them, you must have a way to evaluate the effectiveness of your changes and whether or not the changes are useful to you. Throughout the course of this book, you are introduced to the Green Light Selling model one step at a time. Practice each step until you are comfortable with it and have assimilated the step into your personal style.

Now, let's touch on the whole model briefly before you learn each step in depth.

The Green Light Selling Structure

The structure consists of seven phases: an Entrance - Five Steps - and an Exit.


The Green Light Selling model begins with an ENTRANCE. In fact, your Entrance is almost a complete sales process all by itself. This is how the tone of the sales relationship gets established. During the first few moments of an interaction, you begin to ‘teach people how to treat you’ (Wayne Dyer). For example, you should say "Hello" and then wait for a reply. If you do not wait for a reply and just rush on to begin to tell your story, you are teaching the other person that they do not need to respond to you. If the prospect formulates this habit in those first moments, you may continue to have non-responsive problems with your customer from then on.

"To be persuasive, we must be believable.
To be believable, we must be credible.
To be credible, we must be truthful."

- Edward R. Murrow

The Entrance focuses on the relationship that you must develop to keep your customer. In Chapters 2 and 3, you learn specific language patterns that ensure everything you do from the first moment communicates that you fully expect "a symmetrical relationship" where both the salesman and the prospect give and take. You learn the importance of giving some information and then asking for information. You will also see why you should not get too far ahead in your giving. Chapter 3 offers additional pointers on how important it is to focus on the end-point (Exit) of your sale from the very beginning (Entrance). Just like a swimmer, once you are in the sales waters you must keep your eye on the shore (Exit). Otherwise you lose your way and sink!

Step 1. Rapport Frames.

Rapport could be described as a "deep abiding interest and communication" between two or more people. Without rapport, the sale is destined for failure. During Step 1, three important levels of rapport are established. You learn why prospects sometimes drop out of rapport with you and how to re-establish a positive working relationship. The concept of three distinctly different levels of rapport has been very helpful to individuals wanting to enhance their communication techniques. The rapport skills outlined in Chapter 4 help you refine your sales interactions for efficiency, effectiveness, and a profitable, long-term association.

Step 2. Buying Procedure - Backtrack / Conditional Close.

Chapter 5 details information on Backtracking and Conditional Close techniques. Backtracking is similar to the familiar technique used in other sales trainings called "restate the objection." You learn some modern linguistic enhancements that make the Green Light Selling concept work even more elegantly and with incredible precision.

The Conditional Close is similar to J. Douglas Edward's technique called the "Sharp Angle Close," but the Green Light Selling technique is much softer and can be used more often without losing rapport. It also demonstrates that you are taking the customer's needs seriously. Of course, you learn specific language patterns as well as the underlying structure of this excellent information gathering process. In Chapter 6, you learn how to uncover your customer's Buying Procedure - the method(s) your prospect has used before to make their buying decisions. If you have ever had a sales opportunity "go sour" after you'd done 90% of the work, you will love these techniques. You learn how top sales people keep complex sales campaigns on track - all the way to the close.

Step 3. Needs Elicitation.

In this step, the prospect tells you their needs and requirements. You will be able to comfortably listen to the prospect's ‘wish list. ’ Because of the unique integrated nature of the Green Light Selling model, even outrageous customer requirements (that are light years from reality) can usually be handled gracefully. Specific instructions for learning this step are offered in Chapter7.

Step 4. Get To Intent/Translate.

After the prospects have offered their ‘wish lists, ’ the next step is to make sure you understand the function of each specified item. Even seasoned salespeople make serious mistakes at this point. For example, if a product weakness has come to your attention recently (in the form of an objection), that weakness will stand out in your mind. If a prospect begins to suggest requirements in this area of weakness, you may over-respond and jump to erroneous conclusions. This reaction often leads to defensive behavior that can create unnecessary problems for you.

With the questioning and clarification techniques discussed in detail in Chapter 8, you learn to ‘translate’ the impossible into the ‘do-able. ’ You develop deeper rapport and more appreciation for your customer's real needs. You discover new ways to meet your prospect's needs by following simple and effective linguistic processes.

Step 5. PivotPoint™ Presentation / Close.

During this step, the prospect's needs are connected to the features of your product or service. In Chapter 9, you find that there are two basic ways to tell the prospect about your product. One way is the most natural and comfortable way to discuss your product - and the least effective. The other way, called the PivotPoint™ Presentation, may be more difficult for you, and yet it is much more persuasive to your prospect. You discover how to get the greatest possible mileage out of your product's features with this method. In fact, you can expect to close 75% to 85% of your viable prospects because your product will be presented with more impact.

In Chapter 10, we explore new insights into the closing process. After following the PivotPoint™ Presentation process faithfully, you will notice that the "once feared close" is almost automatic and anti-climactic. You learn a proven closing technique to help you succeed with the many different kinds of buyers you encounter throughout your sales career.


The Exit can be an important part of the entire process. Too often, skilled salespeople lose future business because of a sloppy exit. Consistently getting closure on each transaction and setting up the potential for future interactions is the hallmark of top sales performers.

Green Lights All The Way

To present the sales model clearly, we have defined each step of the Green Light Selling model and each step actually dovetails smoothly into the next. Learning the Green Light Selling model requires practice - similar to first learning how to drive a car - and yet with practice, it becomes automatic. When you first learn to drive, it is necessary to concentrate on each step individually. Once you have mastered each step, you begin to think of the second step and begin implementing it while you are finishing the first step. Eventually, you get so skilled that even while you are shifting into gear, you are also glancing in your rear view mirror, paying attention to the road ahead, and pushing on the gas pedal without skipping a beat.

When you first think of rapport frames (Step I in the Green Light Selling model), you will be aware of your speech and its effect on your prospect. As you gain more expertise in choosing your words and gauging their effect on others, your skills become polished and automatic. For Green Light Selling to work, each step in the process needs to be practiced until it becomes natural for you and your style.

"Don't give up whatever you're trying to do - especially if you're convinced that you're botching it up.
Giving up reinforces a sense of incompetence, going on gives you a commitment to success."

- George Weinberg

Just reading this book will not bring you sales success. Practicing the model will. Practice helps you make the sales process flow correctly and helps you recognize when the flow has choked up. For example, going backwards in a conversation to add something you forgot to say creates confusion in the mind of the listener, much as stroking a cat the wrong way creates static electricity.

The natural directional flow of language and processes in the sales structure requires that you start at the beginning and move through all the steps to a successful end each and every time. Attempting to back up to cover forgotten ground can be disastrous.

Learning the Green Light Selling model and following the 5 specific steps moves you and your prospect from beginning (Entrance) to close (Exit) in an orderly fashion. Before long, your timing clicks in and you are moving through all the intersections with green lights glowing for you all the way. The more discipline you put into practicing the Green Light Selling model, the sooner you will soar with the Sales Masters.

Key Points To Remember

  1. Learn the steps
  2. Never skip steps
  3. Practice your Entrance, all Five Steps of this process, and your Exit until it automatically becomes natural for you and your personal style

2. Word Selection