Jun 102017
 
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How To Sell Better If You’re Not A Salesperson

Most everyone in business would like to know how to sell better. If you don’t perceive yourself as a salesperson, but you still need to sell, it’s that much more important that you arm yourself with tips and tricks to get the job done.

Here we’ll go over several tricks (“hacks, tips) you can use to learn how to sell better, even when you don’t really want to be selling…

A Few Tips On How To Sell Better…

… even when you’d rather be doing almost anything besides selling:

 

How To Sell Better Tip #1

Realize that you don’t need to be an extrovert to be good at selling.

There is a common misconception that only backslapping, glad-handing people that say hello to everyone they see, can and should be salespeople. That mindset is outdated in a day and age where the world is much more complex and has many more channels for “selling” to prospects. Do these sorts of salespeople still exist? Of course they do. Do you need to take this approach to be effective at selling your products and services? Absolutely not.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #2

Work with an organization that appreciates different approaches.

If you want to be good at sales, and let’s be serious, everyone who’s an entrepreneur is selling to some degree, work with, or better yet, create an organization that appreciates that all selling doesn’t need to be of the stereotypical used car variety. A great deal of your success in selling as a non-salesperson will be a function of working with a team that appreciates non-salesy selling. If you’re being pushed to be pushy and that’s not what you’re all about, then you’re probably working with the wrong organization (even if you created it).  Change it, or move on.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #3

Change your definition of selling.

Rather than seeing selling as pushing something on someone who doesn’t want what you have, see it as a combination of education and helping others. Go into it knowing and acknowledging that your product or service may not be for everyone, but commit to using the process of educating your prospect, and educating yourself about the needs of your prospect, to only help those who are in need of what you offer.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #4

Become a thought leader in your field.

Use blogging and social media to develop a reputation as a thought leader in your field. You will then have people coming to you seeking your expertise, rather than you having to go to them asking for business. Once this dynamic changes, you will be amazed how much easier it becomes to make the sale. In fact, you likely won’t feel as if you’re selling much at all. If you truly become a thought leader, many people will arrive pre-sold.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #5

Make sure you are selling a product and/or service that you believe in 100%.

If you’re a thinker – and you probably are, or you wouldn’t be reading this to educate yourself – then you need to believe fully in what you’re selling, or it will likely be very obvious to your prospect(s) that even you are not completely sold on what you’re selling. In my experience, it’s hard for cerebral types – thinkers – to fake their enthusiasm for something they don’t believe in.

On the other hand, when thinkers fully believe in what they’re representing, their passion and sense of mission for getting it out there to the world is palpable and contagious.

Do you believe in what you’re selling? Be honest. If not, change it so you do believe in it 100%, or change what you’re selling.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #6

Put your big boy (or girl) pants on.

Listen, if you don’t perceive yourself as a salesperson, that’s fine, but if you’re going to be effective as an entrepreneur, as already discussed, you’re going to be selling, in one form or another, a good portion of the time. So, suck it up! Stay mission focused. Realize that in order to accomplish your goals and dreams as an entrepreneur, selling is part of the deal! Learn to sell in a way in which you are comfortable and effective. Undoubtedly, particularly in the beginning, you will step out of your comfort zone plenty, but as time goes on, as an intelligent and adaptive entrepreneur you will come up with a selling approach that works for you. Embrace it and continue to grow in the important craft of selling.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #7

Learn to have fun will all aspects of selling.

Bottom line is that certain aspects of selling are not very pleasant. Being rejected is not something many people wake up in the morning actively seeking out. Over time, though, you can learn not to take yourself, or your prospects, too seriously. It’s highly unlikely that what you’re selling, particularly in a sale to a particular prospect, is life or death. Learn to focus on the big picture of your goals and dreams and rather than letting rejection or “failure” in a particular sale get you down, take it for what it’s worth – a learning opportunity – and move on. If you can learn to enjoy, rather than dread your interactions with prospects and other important constituencies of your business, your life will be that much more pleasant and your effectiveness in selling and beyond will likely reach levels you never thought were attainable.

 

What other tricks have you used to sell better as a non-salesperson?

 

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Sep 252011
 
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Selling Tip #1 - You Had Me At Pathos

Selling Tip #1 – You Had Me At Pathos

Today’s selling tip is the first in a series, which should help get you, your sales team, and your company on track to closing more sales.  This tip was prompted by a flurry of requests I’ve received lately for sales meetings and purchases, from people I hardly know, or don’t know at all.  How presumptuous, don’t you think?  It never ceases to amaze me how some people will get in touch with you, and in that initial contact, they will ask you to buy something from them or do something for them.  The standard answer is, you guessed it, a resounding “NO”!

We’re going to take a quick journey back to ancient Greece, in order to understand why such an approach will ALMOST NEVER work, at least under “normal” circumstances.  Who would have thought that the Greek philosopher Aristotle could help you be a better salesperson?  Well, if you want to be more persuasive, and by extension better at sales, marketing and negotiating, it’s worth thinking a bit about three categories that Aristotle used to describe means of persuasion.  Those categories are Ethos, Pathos and Logos.  The descriptions below are from a longer article I wrote focused on Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.

Ethos refers to the character or credibility of the speaker – or writer – the person trying to get their message or argument across.  The listener or reader is going to have an impression of the level of credibility of the person trying to persuade them.  This impression will be based on past interactions, reputation, and the manner of communication, among other factors.

Pathos relates to emotion.  It is an attempt to persuade by appealing to the emotions of the person(s) you are trying to persuade.  This appeal can be based on analogies, metaphors or stories that evoke the emotions of your reader or listener.  It is well known that humans are accustomed to learning and passing on knowledge and wisdom through stories, so being able to weave a good story that touches someone emotionally is an excellent way to win them over.

Logos refers to logic.  In this case, you are trying to persuade someone by using a well-reasoned, logical argument.  You are persuading based on the belief that your audience will respond to an appeal that is structured in a logical, left-brain manner.  Using this form of persuasion is seductive, as it gives you the (usually false) sense of comfort that if you can just make your argument “tight” or “bullet-proof” enough, then your audience will have no choice but to be persuaded.  Unfortunately, it’s not usually that simple.

As you’ve undoubtedly realized by now, these three categories usually do not work well independently.   In other words, it’s unlikely that by just using one of these forms of persuasion you are going to persuade your audience, or at least not as consistently or to the extent you would like to.

Ok, so how can you apply this is in your selling scenarios?  This is a selling tip after all, right?  Here are some thoughts on making ethos, pathos and logos work for you when you are selling, or just persuading in general.

First, do not just show up and ask for the sale.  I do not “know you from a hole in the wall” at the very beginning.  Would I buy from someone I know nothing about and who knows nothing about me?  Not usually.  The circumstances would have to be quite unique, or I’d have to be under some sort of duress.

Next, think about how you can establish your credibility, or ethos.  Why should I listen to you?  Who are you?  Don’t go into a huge diatribe about how you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread – that will only alienate me further.   Instead, give me a few points about your background that will be relevant to me (assuming I’m the prospect or the “persuadee”).  As I said, don’t go over the top, or I’ll think you’re an ego-maniac and tune you out.

Third, think about how you may be able to touch me emotionally (pathos), or make some sort of emotional connection with me.  Frankly, you may want to try to do this before you go into a bunch of information about your background.  If you make an emotional connection first, I’ll be more interested and more likely to listen to your description of your background, making it easier for you to establish your credibility (ethos).

A word of caution here:  you MUST really care.  Any fakeness or lack of sincerity in trying to make a connection with your prospect will be sniffed out early and easily.  Human beings have a built-in “B.S. detector” and when they think someone is “putting them on” or “snowing them,” defense mechanisms will be put up so quickly that you won’t know what happened.  So, if you’re insincere and just looking to make a quick dime off people you meet, change your ways, or find a new profession.  You are a dinosaur in the selling profession and most any other position that involves persuasion.  True empathy and connection are the only effective and reasonable approach in today’s “connected world”.

Fourth, notice that it’s only after ethos and pathos are in place that you move into providing the logic of why someone should buy from you or take some other action that you want them to take.  As I said at the outset, if you show up and don’t establish credibility and a connection with your prospect, but instead just move right into “sell mode,” you are likely to have less than impressive results.

The ethos, pathos, and logos approach I cover in this selling tip are equally applicable online and in-person.  Regardless of the medium through which you are communicating with your prospects, if you don’t establish a connection and your credibility before trying to sell or persuade, you are not likely to get anywhere.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Aug 312011
 
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How To Sell More With Cognitive Dissonance

Even though the vast majority of people will tell you that they “don’t like to sell,” when pressed, they’ll still admit to you that they’d like to know how to sell more, right?

Selling anything is a very uncomfortable process for many people, almost as bad as public speaking.  This is not the article to go into all the reasons for the overwhelming discomfort felt by most when they even think about having to sell something to someone.  In brief, at the core of the discomfort is a fear of rejection and a great hope that the prospective customer will just figure out that our solution is better.  For those of you who have fought the sales and marketing battle for any period of time, it’s understood that most prospects don’t “just figure it out”.

So, if you don’t love to sell, this article will not fully help you overcome that feeling, but it will give you a better understanding of a tool that you should be using constantly to conquer even your most hardened, “objection rich” prospects.  That tool is cognitive dissonance, or as I sometimes like to call it, “cog diss” or “Socratic cog diss”.

Ok, so what is this cognitive dissonance?  It is defined by Webster’s Dictionary (merriam-webster.com) as:  psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.  In other words, you cannot believe two different (and inconsistent) things at once.  If you give it a try, you’ll realize that almost always, your mind will grind to a screeching halt and basically force you to choose one or the other opposing belief.  If it doesn’t, or you refuse to make a choice, your mind will send you (figuratively) around and around in circles until you finally make a choice between the “incongruous beliefs”.

What does cognitive dissonance have to do with sales and marketing, you ask?  Everything.  In sales and marketing, whether subtly or very directly, we are trying to convince a person or a group of people to make a purchase, or take some other specific action.  In order to do so effectively, we must persuade them to believe that going with our product or service is the right thing to do.  We must convince them, or better yet, have them convince themselves, that purchasing our solution will best solve the issues that they want to solve.  We know we’re not offering the only solution, but we want the prospect to come to the conclusion that we’re offering the “best solution”.

In order for the prospect to think that our solution will best solve the problem or issue they are facing, it is likely that we will have to help them change what they already believe!  Chances are that when you show up on the scene, whether it be virtually or in person, the prospect does not have the preconceived notion that you are the best solution and the sale is “yours to lose”.  Does that happen to you often?  If it does, then congratulations, as you and your company have done a great job of positioning your brand and offerings in the marketplace.  For everyone else, listen carefully.  Just about the only way for you to overcome the “objections” running around in the mind of the prospect, will be to introduce cognitive dissonance to the “conversation”.  Let me give you an example to clarify.

Let’s say that you sell financial planning services.  To keep it simple, let’s say that you focus just on helping clients optimize their investment portfolios, based on their risk appetite and other key factors, such as age, current and desired future lifestyle, etc.  If you sell such services, one of the common objections you probably run into is, “thanks, but I have that covered with a financial planner friend of mine that I’ve been using for ten years”.  This objection is not uncommon in all kinds of industries, with the prospect’s essential belief being, “I don’t need another solution; I’ve got this covered”.  There are probably few prospect objections more difficult to overcome than this, particularly in this specific case, where the clever prospect plays the “friend card” and also refers to the long-term “10 year” solution already in place.

In such cases, and in all cases where the prospective customer has convinced himself or herself that they’re “all set,” the best tool that you can put to use, and perhaps your only real hope, is cognitive dissonance.  How do you do it?  First, you must do your homework and understand in great detail the true risks the prospect faces with their “all set” attitude.  Next, you must ask a series of questions in an unobtrusive and inoffensive way that cause the prospect to understand that maybe they don’t have it all covered after all.  Finally, you must demonstrate with as much certainty as possible that your solution offers a much higher probability of satisfying the concerns that they have about potential risks they face and benefits they seek in making this purchase.

Now back to the financial planning services situation, to make the example more concrete.  Let’s say that your prospect tells you they’re “all set”.  Rather than walk away with your tail between your legs, ask them for the chance to ask them a few questions, in order to “confirm that they have some key emerging market risks covered”.  They’ll object again, with a strong desire to “protect their certainty” – by the way, no one likes to be in a state of cognitive dissonance – uncertainty is uncomfortable.  Assure them that you’ll be brief and won’t waste their time.  When you sit down with them or speak with them on the phone, your job will be to “sow the seeds of doubt” (cognitive dissonance) in the top five areas of risk that they likely face in their “all set” state of mind.  Given that the tax code and other factors related to financial planning change with great frequency, you probably won’t have a shortage of potential “doubt seeds”.  Choose and utilize those that you believe to be most relevant to the prospect.

There are a couple of caveats to using cognitive dissonance in your sales and marketing.  First, and perhaps most importantly, you will have to find a balance between pushing hard enough and not being condescending.  You’ll need to test this.  Being condescending is not likely to get you anywhere.  Finding just the right mix of “cog diss” is likely to get you results beyond what you’ve ever achieved in the past, so it’s worth seeking and finding the balance.  Second, don’t expect miracles.  Moving prospects off of long held beliefs and objections is very difficult.  In most cases, you will not get through to them, particularly on the first foray.  Think of it as a war, not a battle.  Keep “going after” those deeply held, but usually not-very-well-thought-out, beliefs of your prospective customers, and with perseverance, it will likely yield excellent results.

The key to remember in this cognitive dissonance approach is that it is very hard, if not impossible, for people to keep “incongruous beliefs” in their mind for very long.  They simply cannot co-exist simultaneously in someone’s mind without “driving them crazy”.  Your job then is to make sure that the beliefs you are trying to introduce must win at some point in the battle or the war, otherwise the pre-existing beliefs will have won, de facto.  Sometimes the prospect truly is “all set” and well-served, but in many industries, that is the exception, rather than the rule.  If what you’re offering truly is the better solution, you will feel very comfortable regularly providing the seeds of cognitive dissonance, so that your prospect can come to the right conclusion and buy from you!

We have had great success with this “cognitive dissonance approach” and mindset in our businesses.  I’m very interested in your thoughts, comments and feedback about your own experiences.  Please leave a comment or feel free to contact me at the email address below.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com.

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Aug 202011
 
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Just Remember: Hope Is What You Are Selling

If you would like to improve the results of your sales and marketing, just remember that hope is what you are selling.  There is very little certainty in life, so with every purchase we make, we are hopeful that it will give us certain results.

There is a deep psychological basis for this “hope,” which is rooted in what you often hear characterized as “people make decisions for two reasons – to avoid fear or to seek pleasure”.  If we explore this a little deeper, the avoiding fear piece seems pretty straightforward; it is, at least in large part, the famous “fight or flight response”.  The “seek pleasure” part is a bit more complex though, as the “pleasure” can come from an extremely wide variety of sources, including the simple hope that certain aspects of our lives will improve or we will get a feeling of comfort and peace, even if for just a short period of time.

Let’s look at a few examples of how we make certain purchases to seek the “pleasure” of hope for a certain feeling.  The first example would be buying and eating candy or junk food.  Why do we do it when we know it has no nutritional value and in fact can be very bad for our health?  We do it because we are hoping that it will give us a pleasurable feeling.  We hope that it will quickly satisfy our sense of hunger and relieve our headache caused by low blood sugar.  We hope that it will satisfy our “sweet tooth” or make us feel happy and soothe our anxiety when we’re depressed or upset about something.  We don’t do it for purely rational reasons; we do it largely for emotional reasons, as we are hoping it will give us a certain feeling.

Now let’s look at a much more expensive purchase:  a luxury car.  Why do we spend two or three times as much money on a luxury car, when there are other perfectly good cars that will get us from point A to point B just as quickly and as safely?  We do it because we hope that having such a car and riding around in it will make us feel good about ourselves.  We hope that it will give us a sense of importance and status in society.  We may also hope that it will give us a sense of exhilaration when we step on the gas pedal and go from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds.  We hope that having that luxury car will give us a wide variety of feelings that will make us happy.

We’ve talked about some products, but how about services, even business services.  Are they purchased based on hope as well?  Absolutely.  Just about every purchase that is made in the business world is also based on hope.  As I stated in the beginning, and as you are no doubt aware from your own experiences, there is very little certainty in life.  This is equally true in the business world.  Take, for example, the purchase of strategy consulting services, or coaching services.  What is the hope of the buyer of such services?  Depending on which class of services, the hope is likely for better performance of the business or of the particular executive contracting the services.  The contracting executive could also be hoping to alleviate the workload of his team and free them up for other tasks he hopes to focus on more.  In either case, the purchaser may hope that the improved results lead to a bonus for him or her.   That bonus would then allow them to make other purchases that they hope will give them other good feelings.  You see how the cycle continues.

So now that we’re talking about hope and expectations, we get to another very important point to bear in mind in your sales and marketing:  prospective buyers love testimonials.  Why is that?  Well, given that there is no true certainty that what you’re offering will give them the feeling(s) and results they hope to obtain, they want to hear stories of others who have used your products or services and enjoyed the exact results they are seeking.  This is often referred to as “social proof”.  It’s pretty straightforward, but often overlooked.  Prospective buyers are just trying to close the gap between hope and certainty.  They know they are unlikely to close the gap 100%, but they’d like to get as close as possible, before taking a closer look at your offering and ultimately, taking the risk and pulling the trigger on making a purchase.

This leads us to another fundamental point:  customers are buying benefits, not features.  This notion of hope can help us gain further understanding into why it is so important not to make the common marketing mistake of focusing on the features, rather than the benefits, of your offering.  Prospective customers simply don’t care about the features.  They want to hear about the benefits that are aligned with the feelings and results they are hoping to achieve by buying your product or service.

When you are planning and executing your marketing and selling, make sure you dig deeper to understand the hopes and aspirations of your prospective customer.  This applies equally whether you are selling to consumers or businesses.  Regardless of whether we’re talking about a bottle of perfume or a high-speed copy machine, every prospective customer has hopes attached to their potential purchase.  You must understand at as deep an emotional level as possible what those hopes and aspirations are, and you must then position your offering to be the one that best satisfies them.  If you approach all your marketing and sales from this “hope” perspective, you are likely to be very pleased with the results you achieve.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.  Leave a comment below.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com.

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Apr 082011
 
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Who would have thought that the Greek philospher Aristotle could help you be a better business person? Well, if you want to be more persuasive, and by extension better at sales, marketing and negotiating, it’s worth thinking a bit about three categories that Aristotle used to describe means of persuasion. Those categories are Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

Ethos refers to the character or credibility of the speaker – or writer – the person trying to get their message or argument across. The listener or reader is going to have an impression of the level of credibility of the person trying to persuade them. This impression will be based on past interactions, reputation, and the manner of communication, among other factors.

Pathos relates to emotion. It is an attempt to persuade by appealing to the emotions of the person(s) you are trying to persuade. This appeal can be based on analogies, metaphors or stories that evoke the emotions of your reader or listener. It is well known that humans are accustomed to learning and passing on knowledge and wisdom through stories, so being able to weave a good story that touches someone emotionally is an excellent way to win them over.

Logos refers to logic. In this case, you are trying to persuade someone by using a well-reasoned, logical argument. You are persuading based on the belief that your audience will respond to an appeal that is structured in a logical, left-brain manner. Using this form of persuasion is seductive, as it gives you the (usuallly false) sense of comfort that if you can just make your argument tight enough, then your audience will have to be persuaded. Unfortunately, it’s not usually that simple.

As you’ve undoubtedly realized by now, these three categories usually do not work independently. In other words, it’s unlikely that by just using one of these forms of persuasion you are likely to persuade your audience, or at least not as consistently or to the extent you would like to. Why is that? Let’s consider an example to understand why these three almost always work together.

Let’s consider the example of someone that comes to you on the street, trying to persuade you to give them a few dollars because their car has run out of gas. For all of us who have lived in a big city at some point in our lives, this has likely happened at least once or twice. So what happens in this scenario? Well first, presumably you do not now this person at all, so they start out with very little credibility (Ethos). Strike one. Next, they have a very short time to get your attention and to use much logic (Logos). Strike two. Finally, they may stir up a bit of emotion in you, as you may have run out of gas at some point and had to look for help. Or you may just feel bad for them for being in an unfortunate circumstance.

So would you give this person money? What are some of the factors that may affect the degree to which they can persuade you? To begin with, if they’re dressed like you or dressed very well, you’re likely to give them a bit more credit (Ethos). Next, if they tell you a story that is more likely to relate to an experience you’ve had, or to your current situation, they may have more credibility and may at the same time touch you a bit more emotionally (Ethos, Pathos). Finally, if they tell you up front “this may sound a bit crazy,” you’re not likely to expect much logic or reasoning (Logos), so you’ll likely hold them to a lower standard on this category and the short time they have to give you a logical story won’t necessarily count against them as much.

What are some of the things that could work against them? How about if they’re dressed very shabbily, perhaps to the extent that you may even doubt that they have a car at all? How about if you’ve heard this story many, many times before, at least one or two of which were found to be complete fabrications? And what if in the short time they have to give you any semblance of logic for their plea, they give you a story that makes no sense to you at all, either based on the vocabulary the’re using or the numerous faults in their reasoning? All of these could cause you to say “no” (at least in your head) before they even start talking.

In this example, we’re talking about someone who walks up to you on the street looking for money. What does that have to do with business? With sales and marketing? With negotiation? Well how different is this scenario in reality than the many times people try to persuade you each day, whether it be in-person, by telephone, television, radio, or internet? In all of those cases, just as with the person who approached you on the street, each of the persons or organizations trying to persuade you is going to have varying levels of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in your mind. An unknown person or organization that comes to you, regardless of how they come to you, is likely to have very little credibility (Ethos) in your mind at the beginning. True, they may be able to make an emotional appeal (Pathos) and you may be moved, even though you don’t know them well. They may also be able to put together a solid, logical argument that you see as having merit (Logos). But even so, are you likely to buy from them, or be persuaded by them?

What can you do to increase the likelihood that when you are making appeals to individuals, they are going to be persuaded by you? The answer is in the combination of Ethos, Pathos and Logos. Any one of these approaches used in isolation is not nearly as powerful as when it is used in combination with the others. What you need to do is use Ethos, Pathos and Logos either all at once, or better yet, in a sequence that makes sense.

What is the right sequence in which to use Ethos, Pathos and Logos when you are trying to persuade others? There are many approaches that can work. One that is tried and true is to first use Ethos, then Pathos, then Logos. The idea goes like this: first you must be a credible source before the audience will even open their ears and begin to listen to your emotional and logical appeals. You can build your presentations, marketing and sales pitches in such a way that they follow this sequence. You may also get away with, and in some situations even be better off with, first appealing to their emotions, then letting them know that the appeal is coming from a credible source, and then finally giving them your logic for why they should take a particular action. One thing that is clear though, is that if you try to give them logic before you’ve even touched on emotion or credibility, you’re not likely to get too far in persuading them.

There are myriad ways that you can work toward establishing Ethos, evoking Pathos, and delivering sound Logos, but regardless of how you decide to approach it, hopefully this article has given you a solid grounding in the concept Aristotle put forth over 2,000 years ago. Hopefully too, you will not try to use just one of these categories of persuasion, but rather use them together to maximize your persuasive potential.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions on the concept of Ethos, Pathos and Logos. Please leave a comment below or by clicking on the top right corner of this post.

Paul Morin
Twitter: @PaulAlanMorin

CompanyFounder.com
Twitter: @CompanyFounder.com

Email: paul@CompanyFounder.com.

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