Mars and Venus Part II. "Moving towards" or "Moving away from".

Without knowing a person's strategy, you could be emphasising all the wrong points.

What does moving towards or away from mean?

With all of us, two things matter. The first is engaging activities that please us. The second is avoiding activities that cause us pain. So when I say people are moving towards, I mean that they tend to spend most of their time trying to move towards pleasure.

On the other hand, some people predominantly spend their time avoiding pain. In NLP, this is often referred to as one of their strategies. I say predominantly, because most people will do both; however one of them figures more in their life than the other.

So what has this to do with selling, you may ask. Lots! Because if you are a moving towards type person, who is selling cars, you may wish to emphasize the looks, time from 0-60, the power of the engine etc. But what if the person is looking for reliability, a car that is safe, and has low fuel consumption? They would be a person who wants to avoid the pain of breakdowns, the danger in a collision and the high cost of fuel!

Without knowing a person's strategy, you could be emphasising all the wrong points. It is therefore vital to ask the person some questions, so as to elicit their strategy, so that you can emphasise points that match their way of thinking.

What questions to ask, to elicit someone's strategy?

In the above example, the obvious question to ask is; "what do you look for in a car?" Interestingly enough that question can work in a most situations, along with "what do you look for in a house" and "what do you look for in a relationship.

The answers will give you a very good idea as to whether they are a, "moving towards" or "moving away from", type person.

There are many questions that you can ask, indeed you should ask questions relevant to your business or offerings, so that not only do you get a clue as to a person's strategy, you also help in the sales process.

A question that I might use in my business would be as follows; "What do you look for in a sales coach?"

While there are many different answers, why don't you see which of these answers is most appropriate to you?

* I want someone to help me achieve my targets, so that I can buy that Lexus I have had my eye on.

* I don't believe I am reaching my true potential, and I want to ensure I don't miss my targets again.

* Can you see how the addition of "because my current car keeps breaking down" to the first response changes the emphasis from moving towards to moving away from?

What to do if their strategy is different to yours?

One of my clients had two partners who were selling the benefits of managed services for small to medium sized companies. One of the partners seemed to have the most success with clients who were looking for these types of services to avoid downtime and save costs.

While the other guy, found most success with customers who wanted someone to look after their IT systems, so that they could focus on what they were good at.

Given that most people can relate well to people who think the way that they do, it is not surprising that without this understanding, which they will often fail to convince someone who thinks differently.

The mere fact that you now understand one of the ways that people make decisions, and that it could be different to yours, in my opinion, you should find it a lot easier to sell your offerings.


First understand your own strategy. Then try out these simple questions with a few of your friends, to get an understanding of how they think. There is a good chance that you will be amazed at the insights these simple questions give you into people.

Translating these insights into questions that you can then use to move buyers closer to your products can still seem a challenge to some people, maybe then you could do with some help.

This series of articles will explore the different psychological buying patterns or your customers, and help you to identify how they make decisions.

Mars and Venus I - Introduction

Mars and Venus III - How does Venus know they got it right?

Mars and Venus IV – What makes sense to buyers?

Mars and Venus V - Buyers and Sellers Want to Close the Sale for Different Reasons


Peter Lawless is a renowned as public speaker, marketing consultant and coach and sales trainer in Ireland for people who want success. If you are reading this and decide to see great benefit from taking action on this article, how much more will you get if you just visit 3R for sales, training, marketing and coaching services?

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