I don’t see why anyone in sales should take offence to being called a persuader, it is after all our job, to persuade people that yes it is time to buy, and buy from us. I wear the label of persuader much more proudly than one of being a mediator, a label many in sales would rather wear.
Based on a discussion I had recently with two experienced sales people who were trying to persuade me (sell me), on the fact that what they do is much more “mediate” between the buyer and their company. Mediate, really? Not sure that is what sales people are supposed to do, and as I asked I got the usual, intellectually trap-laden, politically correct snippet about relationships, and how it is the role of the sales person to look after the needs of the “client in the mix”. Hmm!?!
I know it may just be semantics, but words count for a lot in sales, especially in setting mind set and attitudes, as those two things go straight to how you behave, and it is the resulting action that counts in sales. And because of that you will get very different results if you set out to persuade or if you set out to mediate.
When we look at the Merriam-Webster definition of mediate we find it defined as:
: to work with opposing sides in an argument or dispute in order to get an agreement (US)
: to get (something, such as a settlement or agreement) by working with opposing sides in a dispute
: to have an effect or influence in causing (something) to happen
And mediator as:
: one that mediates; especially : one that mediates between parties at variance
Right off the top there is a disconnect, on the one hand we hear about “relationships” and “trust”, yet we see our role as that of the UN in the negotiations between North and South Korea.
Further I am not sure why there is a negative perception of “persuading”, it does not have to imply that you are pulling something over the buyer, it just means:
: to cause (someone) to do something by asking, arguing, or giving reasons
: to cause (someone) to believe something
You can do that, and still maintain or strengthen a relationship, especially if the buyer gains by taking action you persuaded them to take. If the strength of you belief in your product is so strong and compelling, that the buyer is moved to act, how is that worse than mediating, where there is an assumption of adversaries, one being your employer.
The same people who seem to lean towards any word other than persuasion for what they do a s sales people, are the same who are happy to interchange the word negotiate with appease, and in the process of appeasing, mediate away the last bit of margin left in the deal, and subsequent purchases that buyer makes.
The sad reality is that if these same sales people only put as much effort into persuading their buyers, as they do me in labeling their role, they would mediate less, and sell more. Besides, if you are dealing with buyer who require mediation, and see your company as the “opposing” side, you should fire those prospects, and prospect for new ones that see you as much as a partner as you see them.