Ponos and Chronos – Ancient Advice to Drive Modern Sales Success?

At a recent sales training, I had the pleasure of having Demetrios Miras in the class. Being of Greek heritage, Demetrios approached me after the session to tell me how much he liked the discussions about Aristotle, and how proud he was about how much the ancient Greeks could teach us about modern selling.

Indeed, 2,600 years ago Aristotle taught us three important ways to “win friends and influence people,” and amazingly, these three ancient “selling” techniques align perfectly with the three “buy buttons” of the brain, as revealed by modern neuroscience:
  • Logos (Logic) and the New brain (Neocortex) - use of reasoning to convince your buyer and the conscious portion of their decision-making, that the purchase is rational. Financial justification is vital to win over your buyer, proving that the “cost of do nothing” is untenable and the return on investment (ROI) is substantial and quick.
  • Pathos (Emotion) and the Reptilian Brain (Cerebellum) – use of simple visuals, contrast and storytelling to gain the buyer’s emotional connection to your conversations and proposals, making you more memorable, gaining empathy and sparking action.
  • Ethos (Trust) and the Middle Brain – use of success stories, references, 3rd party validation to provide a positive “gut feel”, gaining credibility and impressing on the buyer that you are someone worth listening to, and are trustworthy to buy from.
Demtrios pointed out that Aristotle had even more wisdom to impart, with two more important “purchase motivators” that sales reps could further leverage in their conversations and proposals:
  • Ponos (Pain)– In this “do more with less” economy, your prospects are under extreme budget and resource pressure, and are often struggling to just “keep the lights on” versus considering new innovative projects. Often your prospects aren’t fully aware of the issues you are trying to help them address. As a result, a good amount of your conversations and proposal content needs to focus, not on your solution and its benefits, but educating and proving that the status quo pain / need has to be addressed. Success means assuring you are aligned with known issues and helping to make these a priority, while helping to uncover issues that could be costly if not addressed. The key: helping the buyer answer the question “Why Change?” by illuminating the “Pain”.
  • Chronos (Time Period) – it is important to not only convince a buyer that they should change from the status quo (Why Change?), and that you are worth buying from (Why You?), but to convince them that waiting is not an option (Why Now?). Making the buyer conscious of Chronos, that time is money, is imperative to winning and accelerating the purchase decision. Your prospects don’t have unlimited budget and resources, and your proposal is not the only one they are considering. You have to convince the prospect that your proposed project is a priority above all others, and that every day / week / month of delay has a tangible cost.
In the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the bride’s Dad, Gus Portokalos would always say that “the Greeks invented everything”, and as I learn more about Aristotle and what he can teach us about modern selling (let alone Plato), Gus may have been right, and certainly Demetrios Miras has much to be proud of with his heritage.

According to Gus, “There's two kinds of people: Greeks and everybody else who wish they were Greeks ”.  When it comes to selling, we may all want to be Greek, or at least sell like one.


Thank you Demetrios Miras for your insights on how much Aristotle can be applied to modern selling situations!










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