NLP Sales Tip – How To Use “Move Towards” & “Move Away From” Language To Influence A Prospect

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

four arrowsWe all have a number of internal filters that information from our senses passes through.

Language is one of our internal filters, which influences how we think and enables us to communicate with others and with ourselves.  If you listen to the kind of vocabulary that your prospects use, you can detect some of their filters in action, which enables you to match your vocabulary to theirs, and improves your ability to influence them by ‘speaking their language’.

“Towards” & “Away” From Filter

‘Towards’ people like setting and working towards achieving goals. They know exactly where they’re going, although they may have trouble recognising what should be avoided along the way. You’ll hear them talking about their aspirations, their goals, their projects, probably with great enthusiasm and they may well have a lot of projects running concurrently.

Have you come across these prospects?

If you want to influence or gain the co-operation of a ‘Towards’ person, talk to them in terms of their aspirations and how you could help them to achieve their goals.

Like this:

“You mentioned earlier that you wanted to win the UK quality award. By using our XYZ product this will guarantee that you will achieve a 100% pass rate in your quality score”

‘Away From’ people know what they don’t want and what they want to get away from.  However, they can be so concerned with avoiding undesirable things, that they have no defined idea as to what they do want.  They may sound like whingers – always complaining about things that aren’t right in their life or their work.

The best way to influence or gain the co-operation of an ‘away from’ person is to talk to them about how you can help them avoid those things they know they don’t want.

Like this:

“You mentioned earlier that the quality issues you were facing were an issue for you. By using our XYZ product this will guarantee that you will have a 0% failure rate in your quality score”

Did you notice how the same scenario can be used in 2 different ways?

The first one would be “turned on” with 100% pass rate. The second prospect would be “turned on” by a 0% failure rate.

Subtle differences that make a BIG difference!

You may be wondering now whether you are a Towards or an Away From person.

Often, we can be a mixture of both, depending on which option we feel most strongly about.

Start to analyse what you do things for.

What I mean by this is are you always wanting to gain things, to achieve and move forward? Or are you doing things because you don’t want bad things to happen or consequences to occur?

For example, think about these questions:

Why do you wear your hair/clothes/make up like you do? (To look attractive? Or To not look a mess and feel inadequate in front of others?)

Why are you saving for your retirement? (So you can go on holidays or buy that little sporty two-seater? Or Do you fear being old and poor?)


Listen in to the language that your prospects and clients use.

If you continue to preach the benefits of what your products and services will bring to a prospect and what they can achieve by using your company but they are a move away from person then you are not going to connect with them as good as a sales person who uses the benefits and features to highlight what they will avoid by using their wares.

Remember, this is a little thing that will make BIG difference to sales.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Arzt Samui at

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 4 March, 2014

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