We have reviewed Daniel Pink’s best-selling books in previous blogs, and his latest book, To Sell is Human, is another look at motivation and business in an ever evolving and techological world. It is also a book about the salesman in all of us and of maintaining integrity in whatever we are “selling,” as it benefits us all.
Mr. Pink provides statistics from the US government reporting that one in nine of us works in sales. According to the author, however, the other eight is also working in sales, to some degree, by persuading and convincing others. This “non-sales selling” is the act of persuading, convincing and influencing others to give up something they have in exchange for what you have to offer. Pink breaks this art of selling or “non-selling” into three parts: attunement, bringing oneself into harmony with others and understanding them, buoyancy, the art of staying afloat, even when handling rejection and clarity, taking problem solving to problem finding, uncovering challenges that you may not have known were there.
Today, sales has changed in a world where information is instantaneous. Instead of the death of the salesman, this actually can make sales more critical. And, there are emerging markets, such as China and India, where the middle class is growing and the need for salespeople expands. The technologies that were to make a salesforce obsolete, have actually turned more of us into sellers. Pink notes websites, such as Etsy, where small craftspeople can sell their goods to an international market. Pink also writes about some companies, such as the software company Atlassian, where all employees, including the techs, are involved in selling and invested in the product. Pink believes that positivity is the key to buoyancy. It heightens creativity and intuition and when coupled with a belief in what you are selling, it can be the key to success.
One of the more interesting aspects of Pink’s book focuses on clarity and problem finding. He claims that the people most exposed to creative breakthroughs are problem finders. They go beyond the immediate solution and look at the whole picture to assess your needs. He uses the example of shopping for a vacuum cleaner. Your real need is to have clean floors and the solution may be a cleaning service or something other than the original vacuum cleaner you were seeking.
Pink also writes at length on the importance of listening. It is impossible to attain true listening skills without some degree of connection. He stresses the need to slow down and take time in responding, in order to understand the other’s needs. Here, he points out the benefit of “up-serving’ as opposed to “up-selling.” It is doing more for the other person than he expects. According to Pink, this is transforming a mundane interaction into a memorable experience and is what makes an optimal experience out of selling and what makes it human.
Like his previous books, Pink gives a different perspective on technology and business today. Some of his thoughts on selling have been around for a while, especially those regarding positivity and perseverance, and sometimes the author is putting his own spin on recent methodologies of selling. Still, the book is worth reading, since it provides insight into business today and in a changing world. It is filled with interesting examples to back up his theories and is an enjoyable read.
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