By Tom Reilly

Janus, the Roman god of entrances and exits and the namesake of our first month of the year, is often depicted as having two faces—one looking backward and the other looking forward. Janus words, sometimes called contronyms, are words that have opposite connotations. Persuasion is a contronym, a two-faced word. For some people, to persuade has a negative connotation: seduce, force, or cajole. For other people, to persuade has a positive meaning: encourage, inspire, or motivate. In Value-Added Selling, persuasion is a good thing. It plays an integral role in how salespeople communicate value to customers—their end-to-end, total customer experience.

Distance is a key dynamic in persuasion.

Distance applies to the psychological space between the message, the messenger, and the receiver of that communication. The distance between the message and the receiver determines how quickly the buyer accepts the premise of the argument. In other words, the message must resonate with the buyer. How? It must be customer-centric. The message should reflect the needs of the buyer. There must be a significant overlap between the buyer’s needs and the seller’s solution. Does the seller’s solution satisfy the buyer’s needs and wants? Next, does the seller speak the buyer’s language? This means presenting a solution in a way that connects with the buyer. Using buyer buzz words of value tells the buyer that the seller understands the buyer’s priorities and speaks the buyer’s language.

Distance also applies to the messenger—the sender of the message. This depends on the degree of trust between seller and buyer. The seller’s knowledge, expertise, credibility, and integrity affect trust. Does the buyer trust the seller? Will the seller deliver on promises? Does the seller demonstrate empathy and understanding? Buyers want to do business with those whom they trust. If the buyer trusts the seller and wants to do business with the seller, price becomes less of an issue.

Distance affects how buyers receive the seller’s solution. Salespeople are more persuasive when they deliver customer-centric messages in a way that connects with the buyer. Salespeople seal the deal when they establish trust as a credible and valuable source to the buyer.

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