To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink

The following quotes are taken from To Sell is Human:

Once upon a time only some people were in sales. Every day, they sold stuff, we did stuff, and everyone was happy. One day everything changed: All of us ended up in sales – and sales changed from a world of caveat emptor to a caveat venditor. Because of that, we had to learn the new ABCs – attunement, buoyancy, and clarity. Because of that, we had to learn some new skills – to pitch, to improvise, and to serve. Until finally we realized that selling isn’t some grim accomodation to a brutal marketplace culture. It’s part of who we are – and therefore something we can do better by being more human.

Sales has changed more in the last ten years than it did over the previous hundred. Most of what we think we understand about selling is constructed atop a foundation of assumptions that has crumbled.

The conventional view of economic behaviour is that the two most important activities are producing and consuming. But today, much of what we do also seems to involve moving. That is, we’re moving other people to part with resources so that we both get what we want. This is “non-sales selling” –  selling that doesn’t involve anyone making a purchase – we’re persuading, convincing, and influencing others to give up something they’ve got in exchange for what we’ve got.

The technologies (internet, smartphone) that were supposed to make salespeople obsolete in fact have transformed more people into sellers – knocking down barriers to entry for small entrepreneurs. The net effect is more creative than destructive.

What an individual does day to day on the job now must stretch across functional boundaries (“elasticity”).

To move people fully and deeply requires not looking at others as a pawn on a chessboard but as a full participant in the game.

The balance has shifted from a world of information asymmetry, caveat emptor – buyer beware – to a world of information parity, caveat venditor – seller beware.

How to Be

ABC – has evolved from :Always Be Closing, to: Attunement, Buoyancy, Clarity.

1. Attunement

– the ability to bring one’s actions and outlook into harmony with other people and with the context you’re in. Like operating the dial on a radio. Attunement hinges on 3 principles

1. Increase your power by reducing it – power leads individuals to anchor too heavily on their own vantage point, insufficiently adjusting to others’ perspectives. The ability to move people now depends on power’s inverse: perspective taking – getting inside their head, and seeing the world through their eyes. Start your encounters with the assumption that you’re in a position of lower power. That will help you see the other side’s perspective more accurately , which, in turn, will help you move them.

2. Use your head as much as your heart – perspective taking seems to enable the proper calibration between pushing too hard and feeling too deeply, allowing to adjust and attune ourselves in ways that leave both sides better off.

3. Mimic strategically – human being are natural mimickers. Very important that you mimic subtly enough that they do not know what you’re doing. 3 keys to practice strategic mimicry – 1. Watch – observe what the other person is doing. 2. Wait – once you’ve observed, don’t spring immediately into action. Let the situation breathe. Ex – wait 15 seconds til you lean back in your chair too. 3. Wane – after you’ve mimicked a little, try to be less conscious of what you’re doing. Should be natural after a while. * the goal here isn’t to be false, but to be strategic by being human.

The Ambivert Advantage ambivert = these are people who are neither overly extraverted nor wildly introverted. Studies have found that ambiverts are the most success are sales. Extroverts often talk too much or listen too little, which dulls their understanding of others’ perspectives. Introverts can be too shy to initiate and too timid to close. Introverts are geared to inspect, extroverts are geared to respond. Ambiverts have the balance of inspecting and responding.

2. Buoyancy

3 keys
1. Before: interrogative self-talk – although positive self-talk is more effective than negative self-talk, the most effective self-talk of all doesn’t merely shift emotions, it shifts linguistic categories. It moves from making statements to asking questions. The interrogative form elicits answers (asking yourself whether you can give a great speech instead of trying to tell yourself you are the best at giving speeches). Also, interrogative self-talk inspires thoughts about intrinsically motivated reasons to pursue a goal, leading to better decisions. “can I move these people?” – Answer this question and write down 5 reasons why it’s a yes. These answers will remind you of your strategy and provide you with more grounding than mere affirmation.

2. During: positivity ratios – positive emotions broaden people’s ideas about possible actions, opening our awareness to a wider range of thoughts, and makes us more receptive and more creative. Where negative emotions help us see trees, positive ones reveal forests. Once positive emotions outnumbered negative emotions by 3 to 1 – people generally flourished.

3. After: Explanatory style – flexible optimism. what to do when something bad happens –  1. Is this permanent? 2. Is this pervasive? 3. Is this personal?

3. Clarity

the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems they didn’t realize they had. Today, when information is abundant and democratic rather than limited and privileged, the ability to solve problems matters less because most can find their information without any assistance. The services of others are far more valuable when I’m mistaken, confused, or completely clueless about my true problem. In those situations, the ability to move others hinges less on problem solving than on problem finding. The people most disposed to creative breakthroughs are problem finders. For sellers to avoid irrelevance through information equality with the buyer, you need to find the right problems to solve. In the past, we had to be good at accessing info and answering questions. Now, we need to be good at curating info and asking questions.

One way to create clarity is the blemished frame – revealing weak negative info after already giving positive info ironically highlights the salience of the positive info.

When selling ourselves – rather than listing achievements, we should emphasize our potential. Turns out that the potential to be good at something can be preferred over actually being good at the very same thing.

Clarity on how to think must be accompanied by clarity on how to act – the off ramp for people to see a clear path of action.

The New Skills

1. The Pitch

– the success of a pitch depends as much on the catcher as on the pitcher. The most valuable sessions were those in which the catcher becomes so fully engaged by a pitcher that the process resembles a mutual collaboration. The purpose of a pitch isn’t necessarily to move others immediately to adopt your idea. The purpose is to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both of you.

1. The one-word pitch – with attention spans nearly disappearing, companies’ aim needs to be to define the one characteristic they most want associated with their brand around the world, and then own it. That is “one-word equity”. When anybody thinks of you, they utter that word. When anyone utters that word, they think of you. Ex: search = Google. Priceless = MasterCard. Nowadays, only brutally simple ideas get through.

2. The question pitch – when I make a statement, you can receive it passively. When I ask a question, you’re compelled to respond, either aloud if the question is direct or silently if the question is rhetorical. People are prompted to come up with their own reasons for agreeing (or not). If the underlying argument is weak though, this type can backfire.

3. The email pitch – needs to have either utility or curiosity, and always specificity.

4. The twitter pitch – must engage the recipients and encourage them to take the conversation further – by responding, clicking a link, or sharing the tweet with others. Highest rated tweets = when the tweets asked questions of followers. Also tweets that provided useful info & links, especially if fresh and new material.

2. Improvise

Sales and non-sales selling have transitioned from the stable, simple, and certain conditions that favoured scripts to a a way of dynamic, complex, and unpredictable conditions that favour improvisation. 3 rules:

1. Hear offers – Overcoming people’s objections & changing their opinions about the sale is becoming less possible & less valuable. We need to truly listen, to take in everything someone says as an offer you can do something with. And if we listen in this way during our efforts to move others, we quickly realize that what seem outwardly like objections are often offers in disguise.

2. Say “Yes and.” – this creates more possibility. Versus “yes but” which leads to frustration.

3. Make your partner look good – The only way to truly influence others is to adopt a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. With information-parity now, pushing for a win-lose can often lead to a lose-lose. Making your partner look good actually makes you look better. To win an argument is to lose a sale.

3. Serve

1. Make it personal – We do better when we move beyond solving a puzzle and into serving a person. Ex – giving your cell phone to the customer in case anything comes up (puts a face to the service). Always act as if it’s the other person doing the favour in a transaction. You can even imagine that the other person you’re dealing with is your grandmother.

2. Make it purposeful – We have an innate desire to serve. To improve another’s life and, in turn, improving the world. The best leaders serve first (Pope Francis). Those who move others aren’t manipulators but servants. Will the move make their life better and/or the world a better place? Don’t try to increase what they can do for you. Elevate what you can do for them.



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