NLP Modal Operators From A Marketing Perspective.


There are three big categories of modal operators:

  • possibility

  • necessity

  • desire

The pattern of potential customers making decisions depends on the sequence in which they use these modal operators. Depending on their familiarity and trust with a particular product or service, they might be more or less interested in investing in it.

The first thing that some clients must consider to consider a product/service is whether there is a desire for it or if it is possible. Some people decide they want something and then look for how to get that done. But this is a small amount of the population. They are usually people who want to get things done, and they have the means and determination to make it happen. They think somewhere in the world, there must be someone who thought of their desire, and all they have to do is to find it. These are the people who know what they want. Their sequence of acquisition is as follows:

  1. Do I want it?” If not, then they don’t care if it exists or not. If yes, then there must be someone offering it. They want it. Therefore they will get it or make it happen.

  2. Is it possible to find it?” If not, they might have the idea for a business if more people have this wish. But, if they want it, it is possible, and they find that possibility, then…

  3. Does it serve my needs?” If not, then they keep on searching. If yes, then they buy it. They don’t waste too much time on the comparison. They want it, search for it, buy it, own it, and that’s the end of the story.


Most people must first be aware that something is possible. For example, if you try to sell vision training to a person who has worn glasses for 20 years, it might be impossible to find that person who doesn’t believe the services offer what they claim. These people must first understand that something is possible and how that helps them. The sequence of acquisition is as follows:

  1. Is it possible?” If it is, then wow, what does that mean? It means that I have to readjust my sense of reality. Some people are not able to do that. They don’t understand how some new technologies work and don’t care to know because it might make their beliefs and life experiences look silly. If they decide it is not possible, they deserve to be left alone in their ignorance. But, if you prove to someone that your product/service can really do what it does, that does not automatically imply they will want to buy it.

  2. Do I want it?”. Does the potential customer consider any value in what’s offered? If not, then it doesn’t matter that it’s possible. For them, it isn’t because they don’t want it. So the mere demonstration of possibility does not impact the potential client’s life unless…

  3. Why do I need this?”. What need(s) does this product or service satisfy? When presenting something proactive to a client that needs to be convinced of the value and the utility, one must consider the suffering that will happen unless the client decides to act on that possibility.



The traditional buyer does not buy something unless there is a need. This client must be in pain to decide to need something so much to buy it. Each marketer must understand that if a consumer really needs something, it doesn’t matter. There isn’t enough money for it. They get it. The borrow. They work like crazy. They need it. For them, the sequence of thinking is as follows:

  1. Do I need it?”. If not, they don’t buy it because they can’t afford it. If yes, then they wonder:

  2. Is it possible?”. They start searching for mechanisms that would enable them to fulfill their needs. If they don’t find it, they stop searching and get frustrated. Subconsciously, they try to satisfy that need in other ways, compensating or patching. If it is possible, they ask the question:

  3. Do I want it?”. In this step, the potential consumer knows their need can be fulfilled and evaluates if there are enough resources and if it is currently worth acquiring the solution. If they want it, then they might do a study in the market and take into consideration what suits their desires best. The nightmare of a salesman is a potential client that thinks it is possible for his needs to be fulfilled but doesn’t know what he wants. This is where clients’ education from the marketers’ steps into place.


A particular confusing thinking sequence for both potential customers and suppliers is the person who uses this sequence:

  1. Do I want it?”. The client might want it, but what that is, is so unclear that they might expect the supplier to untangle all of their thoughts and offer them exactly what they want without even answering some questions. These people might have problems with reality, especially if the next question they ask is:

  2. Do I need it?”. Here comes the inner conflict: if they want it and don’t think they need it, they will suppress that wish until it unexpectedly bursts, becoming an impulse acquisition or a frustration. Then, when and if the client eventually decides it is both desirable and necessary, they ask the question that verifies the reality in the end:

  3. Is it possible?”. If it isn’t, all the thinking, wanting and needing, and inner conflicts about it have been in vain. Some people decide very early in life to self-sabotage their buying strategies with this sequence, significantly if their definition of “possible” is downgraded to money and everyday experience.

Another conditioning perspective is the one that starts with recognizing a need and deciding to allocate specific resources for that. This goes like this:

  1. What do I need?”. This can start with an honest investigation of one’s psychological and physiological needs. Do you know how much of the population actually knows their needs? Very, very little. So, more likely, these needs will be expressed or confounded with…

  2. What do I want?”. Once this is determined to a certain extent, comes the question:

  3. Where can I get it?”. Now you see that this is a step that directly checks the reality, that is, the possibility. The more unclear the first two formulated, the more likely the consumer will buy something they don’t need and/or want. The cycle gets repeated until the client either concludes that what he wants/needs isn’t possible or doesn’t like it/need it. Time passes, and frustration accumulates until they wonder how other people can get the correspondence between want and need. I consider these buyers deserve to be either educated or left alone, but they require a lot of resources from the salesmen, and they don’t have many resources.

The marketer, businessman, or salesman perspective can be represented by the following sequence, which can be challenging but very rewarding for the supplier.

  1. Is it possible?”. Really? They didn’t know that! How cool can that be!

  2. Why would somebody need that?”. If the decision makes sense, it means others see value in it. Therefore it’s a good product. If the decision doesn’t seem to make sense, they concur it’s just some fluff some eccentric people might get fooled into buying, but not them.

  3. Why would I want this?”. Once a need is established, the client can compare all the options for fulfilling the specified requirements. If the presented product satisfies their criteria, they buy tons of it and can recommend you to others too. But, to do that, you must be a good salesman. So, if they find out something is possible that satisfies specific needs, they will choose what they want according to their criteria, and they will eat salesmen on breakfast until they find precisely what they want. And if they don’t see it, they might be able to create it.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, 2017-present

One thought on “NLP Modal Operators From A Marketing Perspective.

  1. Generally I do not read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice post.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.