Review: “To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink

To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink

Are you in sales?

If you said ‘no’, you may want to rethink that. And Daniel Pink’s latest book, To Sell Is Human, is just the book to help.

According to Pink, “The salesperson isn’t dead. The salesperson is alive. Because the salesperson is us.” We’re all in the business of moving people, whether to buy products or our ideas; even if sales is not our formal role.

To Sell is Human is sure to join the ranks of Pink’s preceding works (Drive and A Whole New Mind) as a New York Times bestseller. He begins by demonstrating how all of us rely, in some way, on moving others to action. That is the art of selling.

That art form used to be summed up by the ABCs of selling: Always Be Closing. That was for a time, Pink says, when the seller had the information advantage. But caveat emptor (buyer beware) has become caveat venditor (seller beware) because the information advantage has now shifted to the consumer. Never before have there been so many ways for a consumer to gain knowledge about their prospective purchase, sometimes even more than the seller. And with social media, never has there been a time when a dissatisfied customer can so dissuade others from making the same mistaken purchase.

Instead of Always Be Closing, Pink offers a new way to recite the sales alphabet:

  • Attunement. Before someone will move to act, they must be understood. As Pink puts it, “the ability to move people now depends on power’s inverse: understanding another person’s perspective, getting inside his head, and seeing the world through his eyes.” That’s attunement and it takes a wholly different orientation to achieve it.
  • Buoyancy. The ability to “stay afloat amid an ocean of rejection” is a hallmark characteristic of a successful salesperson. But true buoyancy is more than mere doggedness. It’s a healthy integration of realism and optimism that significantly improves sales performance.
  • Clarity. Pink defines clarity, as “the capacity to help others see their situation in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems they didn’t realize they had.” Because information is now so readily available, the real value a salesperson brings, according to Pink, is less about problem solving and more about problem finding. Great salespeople know how to create clarity by asking the right questions from a different frame of reference.

To Sell is Human is a must read for everyone in sales. Wouldn’t that be you?

In my next post, I’ll explore how Pink’s ABCs of selling apply, as well, to finding our dreams.

How might you use Pink’s ABCs to move another to action? Think of your boss, your spouse, or even your teenager.

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