The Philosophy of the Sale

Who is the world’s foremost leading expert on sales? The Brooks Group? Their entire organization is dedicated to sales. Is it Walter Friedman, Harvard business professor and author of “Birth of a Salesman”? Or is it Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO? He certainly knows how to sell a product. But what if we told you that the world’s foremost expert on sales died over 2,000 years ago in 322 B.C.? His name was Aristotle.

A rhetorician, according to Aristotle, is “someone who is able to see what is persuasive.” He wrote a major work — now studied all over the world — on how to persuade. Tom Szaky at The New York Times says it’s “to become the chief convincing officer.” “In the end,” he says, “these two titles are synonymous, because selling is really the art of convincing someone to believe in and buy into your concept.”

Success in sales can be boiled down to three Greek words we learned from Aristotle: Logos, Ethos, and Pathos.


Logos means “word” in Greek. This one’s straightforward. In speeches and in sales, it refers to what you actually say — your reasoning. What are your talking points about your service or product? Do they make sense to your clients and customers?


Translated into English, this word means “character.” In rhetoric, it describes a speaker’s credibility. It’s an essential part of rhetoric, but it’s also an essential part of sales.

Picture this: You’re in the middle of a massive project when you hear the “ding-dong” of your doorbell. You open the door to find some stranger in a uniform with “BugRid” written on the back, standing on your porch with a billion pamphlets. How likely are you to buy? Now picture the neighbor kid, one who used to babysit your dogs on the weekends you were gone. He’s fresh out of high school, raising money for college, and standing there in an ill-fitting “BugRid” tee with the same offer. Are you more likely to buy?

People purchase from those they trust.


This aspect of rhetoric has to do with people’s viewpoints, the way they think, and what they believe. It’s Greek for “suffering” or “experience.” In sales, pathos is appealing to your demographic. You wouldn’t sell a slinky the same way you would a sports car, would you? They’re both “toys,” but their target markets are completely different. So your tactics have to be too.

Aristotle may not have made millions cashing in on some big idea — though if he were alive and charging for rhetorical advice, he might have — but he certainly knew how to persuade, and that’s the heart of sales.

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michael rozbruch tax and business solutions academy