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on December 31, 2012
What, another book about selling?

No, this is not "another" book about selling. I've read a lot of them, written a few of them, and I can tell you: This book stands alone in a special category.

Why? Because Dan Pink was just an eentsy-teentsy bit uneasy about the notion of himself as a salesperson when he started researching the book. He doesn't say so directly, but you can tell, reading between the lines.

Now, fast-forwarding to the end of the book, you can see he is TOTALLY comfortable with the identity of someone who sells. As a result of what he learned.

That's important -- because most people are uncomfortable with sales, whether that means being a salesperson, doing the act of selling, being sold something, or, in many cases, they are fundamentally uncomfortable that the activity of "sales" exists at all, anywhere in the world.

I know, because I sell for a living. I do it behind the keyboard of a computer, for the most part. As an advertising copywriter.

You might wonder if I'm selling you right now. My answer is no, and maybe, since I made a decision in my career long ago never to sell something to someone for whom I don't think that something is right; and always to do my best to give a person I think a product or service is right for, EVERY opportunity to consider getting it, so they will get it.

That's my definition of selling. Since I don't know you, I would have to break my own rules to try and sell you this book.

But I can give you five categorial "if-then" statements to tell you what kind of people I think this book is for, and what kind of people it is not for:

1. If you are committed to hating selling no matter what, forget about it. Don't read this book, seeing as Dan will make you hate yourself in the morning, because you won't have any reasons left to keep hating selling -- and all that hatred would have to go somewhere else, now wouldn't it?

2. If you like the idea of selling and/or selling is part of your job, but you think you're "just not cut out" for selling, I STRONGLY recommend this book. That's because Dan proves very logically and plausibly that there simply is no such thing as a "natural" when it comes to selling. He also shows that anyone can learn to sell effectively in a style that is consistent with their values -- a style of selling that lets them sleep well at night.

3. If you think you know all that there is to know about selling, don't get this book. You'll be disappointed that there's "nothing new." You have to think that, since you are predisposed to coming to that conclusion, regardless of the facts.

4. If you love to learn for the sake of learning, you'll love this book. Because you'll find plenty of new and delightful insights that will make this book worth reading for those insights alone.

5. If you are a top salesperson and you want to stay that way, you might as well get this book. It's all but required reading for you. Because Dan makes a distinction I haven't seen made as pragmatically anywhere else. A distinction that will help you sell more and keep you from making boneheaded mistakes that even the best of salespeople could get away with, and frequently did, as recently as a few years ago.

The distinction I'm referring to is the effect of the Social Web on everything we say, do, see, think, feel and experience. Yes, everything.

Specifically, the importance of all the readily available factual information about products and services online, as well as customer opinions (this one, for example; and those on: Yelp; Facebook; blogs; and the list goes on).

To his credit, Dan also provides information in the book about how to prosper in the new Social environment.

I was particularly pleased to see that Dan even ventured into the exotic realm of selling that is my specialty: advertising copywriting. He tells a charming if somewhat disturbing story about advertising legend Rosser Reeves, many decades ago. Reeves and a friend were sitting in a New York City park, when Reeves saw a blind man with a tin cup.

The man had a cardboard sign next to himself with the words "I AM BLIND" written on the sign.

Reeves made a bet with his friend -- that by adding just four words to the sign, he could greatly increase the amount and frequency of donations the blind man received.

His friend was skeptical, so he accepted the bet. Reeves then went up to the blind man and asked permission to make the change on his cardboard sign. The man agreed.

Reeves added the four words "It is springtime and"

"Almost immediately," Dan writes, "a few people dropped coins into the man's cup. Other people soon stopped, talked to the man, and plucked dollar bills from their wallets. Before long, the cup was running over with cash, and the once sad-looking blind man, feeling his bounty, beamed."

His sign now said: "It is springtime and I AM BLIND."

Mention of springtime made passers-by unconsciously (and immediately) compare THEIR situation to the THE BLIND MAN'S. They realized how fortunate they were, and how helpless he was. Empathy kicked in; and purse strings were loosened.

The instant and heart-wrenching comparison people made in their minds came from the contrast Reeves (with his trademark diabolical brilliance) set up with those four words: "It is springtime and"

Thus, the principle of contrast is vividly demonstrated. Contrast turns out to be one of the most important elements of a sales argument ever discovered.

The book is chock-full of other examples that not only give you immediately usable techniques, but also create lots of "aha's" that you can use to strengthen your sales repertoire.

As you can see, I'm a big fan.

But before I wrap up, a mandatory disclosure...

I know Dan Pink. He is a friend of mine. He has written about me in Fast Company Magazine and in one of his earlier books. We once had coffee at Starbucks on Chestnut Street in San Francisco.

We also both have the dubious life advantage of having nuclear physicists for fathers.

So if you were looking for an objective review, you'll have to read another one. Of course I'm biased in his favor.

Dan did not compensate me to write this review, although I did receive an advance copy of the book, at my request.

And while I am biased, please understand this: I also have a professional reputation in the areas of selling, marketing, strategy, and entertainment.

So while I would not go out of my way to slam this book if I didn't like it, I would also not risk damaging my reputation by recommending any resource on Amazon unless I fully believed in it myself and thought it would be of use, and of interest, to others.

The good thing about this book is it comes with a guarantee. If you don't like it, Amazon will take it back less shipping costs and give you a refund.

I hope I have given you enough information to help you make a good decision.
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on January 1, 2013
Dan Pink has a knack for providing provocative books about the changing world of work, and in this case, changing the way we look at the art and science of sales. Pink breaks it all down superbly in this new masterpiece.

Since Amazon doesn't have the Table of Contents, here's a look at what's inside:


1. We're All in Sales Now - Some 1 in 9 workers still earn a living in traditional sales. The other 8 in 9 are engaged in "non-sales selling." We devote upward of 40 percent of our time on the job to moving others.

2. Entrepreneurship, Elasticity, and Ed-Med - Elasticity in job roles ensures a lot of non-sales selling. The fastest growing industries are educational services and health care (ie. Ed-Med.) Jobs in these areas are all about moving people.

3. From Caveat Emptor to Caveat Venditor - We've moved from a world of caveat emptor (buyer beware) to one of caveat venditor (seller beware)-- where honesty, fairness, and transparency are often the only viable path.


4. Attunement - Bringing oneself into harmony with individuals, groups, and context. Illustrates the three rules of attunement and why extraverts rarely make the best salespeople.

5. Buoyancy - Learn from life insurance salespeople and the world's premier social scientists what to do before, during, and after your sales encounters.

6. Clarity - The capacity to make sense of murky situations. One of the most effective ways of moving others is to uncover challenges they may not know they have.


7. Pitch - The six successors of the elevator pitch and how and when to deploy them.

8. Improvise - Understanding the rules of improv theater deepens your persuasive power.

9. Serve - Essential principles for meaning in sales: Make it personal and purposeful.

Again, Pink serves up a great new book for business readers and I strongly recommend it. Another new one in this genre that I really liked was Leadership 2.0
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on December 31, 2012
Years ago, Daniel Pink, got my full attention with his book, A Whole New Mind, that argues for the embracing of the creative in our workplaces, in our education system and in our culture. As I recall, I read that book in two days.

Then came Pink's highly successful book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Using some of the latest social science research, Pink made the highly complex and heavily researched concept of motivation accessible to the reader by breaking down some commonly held assumptions around motivation and then offering ideas on how to utilize the research findings in our daily lives. As a trained educator and ardent observer of human behavior, I was already aware of much of what he discussed in this book but found the information useful both professionally and personally. Both of these books were on my recommended reading lists for my students.

Daniel Pink's writing style is engaging and highly accessible. At times, he seemingly reads the mind of the reader and offers simple metaphors and typical human activities to illustrate a particular finding or concept. He presents occasional glimpses into his personal experiences and incorporates just enough humor to make you smile as you read. His writing is informed by a clear mission and is well-organized, so a reader finishes his books with some textbook-like information written in a pseudo-self help style.

When Pink announced the publication of his latest book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, I was eager to see where he would take us on his latest journey through the world of social science research. His basic premise is simple: he argues that humans spend considerable energy each day trying to get others to do what we request: purchase, buy in, comply, agree to and even obey. One professional he interviewed stated it succinctly: "Almost everything I do involves persuasion." Whether you directly sell products, participate in teamwork efforts, attempt to direct the behavior of others or run your own business, you are, in effect, selling or more specifically, moving others to do something.

Pink details the repulsion most of us experience with the typical professional sales approach (think used car salesman) and labels it "the white-collar equivalent of cleaning toilets - necessary perhaps but unpleasant and even a bit unclean." He reviews the historical protocol for selling and determines that it is officially dead. The immediate access to information via the Internet has completely altered the balance of power in direct sales exchanges. Consumers know far more and will, in the middle of your sales presentation, look up what you just said on their smart phones. Pink's book offers strategic advice on how to adapt to the world of the "caveat venditor."

Overall, the book presents succinct insights and strategies for those who are in the profession of sales. My initial response to his findings was a tad snarky: the old adage of "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar" appeared to sum up the notions he presented: if people like you, don't feel threatened, believe that you are listening (rather than waiting to speak) and respond by acknowledging needs and desires...well, it all seems obvious, doesn't it? But that is what Dan Pink does best: redirects our attention to what seems obvious but not necessarily occuring, supports it with research-based evidence (apparently necessary because in our culture trusting our human instinct and experiences is not enough) and then completes his pitch with storytelling, offering human examples to seal the deal.

My disappointment with the book is that he tried too hard to combine the art of selling with the art of persuading. His attempt to include the areas of education and healthcare were significantly short-changed in this 236 page book. Some of the concepts he presents could prove effective with surface-level issues in these two complex areas but the influencing of behavior change and human buy-in is worthy of far more examination. Maybe even a new book by the consummate "explainer" of cultural changes.

(Disclosure: I received a free advance copy in exchange for writing a review and helping with promotion of the book.)
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on December 31, 2012
This book is definitely not just about traditional sales, Dan Pink describes selling as moving people to take action, and therefore this book can be applied to any situation: teachers getting kids to listen to their stories, parents to get kids listen to them, or people getting their friends to take action.

You can't talk about sales without discussing sales at auto dealerships, and the first few chapters of his book describe great in-depth stories on how old-school sales at auto dealerships happened in the pre-internet era, and what makes dealerships successful in sales today. I work for auto dealerships and this helps clarify the situation of what is happening to auto dealerships today (going out of business or not).

Many people have the skills to be good at sales, there are a few exercises in the book to test this. But the best part of the book is really the last few chapters that give a clear how-to on how to sell. Advice that is practical and gives direction to how to sell better, and at the same time it's not too complicated to execute. It is based on skills that all people can obtain, as everybody is in sales.

We know the elevator pitch, in the book, Dan Pink offers a pitch makeover, and shares 6 different formats on how to pitch and a clear direction on how to create pitches that sell.

One of the pitch formulas (the Pixar Pitch) shown in the book To Sell is Human for the book itself:

"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 caveat venditor. Because of that, we had to learn the new ABC's - 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 accommodation to a merciless world of commerce. It's part of who we are - and therefore something we can do better by being more human." - To Sell is Human

The most valuable trait that I learned from the book and will transform my business is that its not just about serving my client; it's about creating a better world, it's about making a difference in the world of my client.

This essence transforms selling from something I have to do, in something that I want to do. This is a book that can transform how you see sales and shift your perspective in selling from a necessary evil, in something that can make the world a better place. If a book is capable of moving a person like that, isn't that worth it?
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on December 31, 2012
Let me first say that I received an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I gave to Sell Is Human four stars because I'm not allowed to post two separate reviews. If you are one of the eight out of nine people in America who does not formally sell for a living, then it is a five-star book and this first half is for you. If you make your living in sales, it's a three-star book and you can skip down to the second half.

The majority of readers will definitely enjoy and profit from the book. Pink writes engagingly, and fills the book with fascinating research findings and compelling stories. It also provides a much-needed explanation and perspective on the profession and practice of selling. If you think you don't sell for a living, take a close look at how much of your day is spent trying to convince others of your point of view. And if you think selling is somehow beneath you, remember that what Plato said about politics is what Pink tells us about selling: those who refuse to participate in it end up being led by their "inferiors."

The theme of the book can be summarized as follows:

* Selling is something we all do in our work and personal lives.
* Selling is talking someone into something that leaves them better off as a result.
* It has to be done right, because the balance of power has shifted from the seller to the buyer.
* When it's done right, it's a worthy and noble calling.

If you're a "non-sales seller", you will certainly pick up a lot of useful insights and tips from the book.

If you are a sales professional, especially one involved in complex corporate sales, you will probably also enjoy reading the book and will learn some new things, but don't confuse it with a complete book on the art of selling. You might also be put off a bit by some of the statements that are pronounced as great discoveries. For example, he tells us that the three qualities of attunement, buoyancy, and clarity "are the new requirements for effectively moving people on the remade landscape of the twenty-first century", as if we did not know that we're supposed to listen, keep an optimistic attitude, and frame our messages properly. And, did you know that when you're mapping the customer's decision process you're engaging in "social cartography"? In addition, the book rightfully pans manipulative sales techniques, but then fills the book with many suggestions to do just that, such as mimicking the other person, touching them, even occasional swearing and rhyming. I'm afraid that some of the good will the book creates towards the sales profession may be erased when readers come across these embarrassing suggestions.

On the plus side, Pink has come up with some interesting insights from social science research that even experienced salespeople can profit from. For example, we learn that salespeople who are neither too introverted or extraverted are the most successful, and I like his suggestion to use interrogative self-talk to conquer nerves before a sales call or presentation.
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on January 3, 2013
As someone who loved A Whole New Mind, I was excited to receive an advanced review copy of To Sell is Human. Just like A Whole New Mind blew my mind and helped me to embrace my right-brain gifts, To Sell is Human has helped me to look at sales in a whole new, empowered way (thank goodness, considering the traditional way of thinking of sales makes me cringe!).

Dan has an incredible talent for distilling research and data down to core concepts and actionable steps. Plus he throws in some good humor and well-told stories to illustrate his points, too. His easy-to-follow framework for "moving others" includes the 3 qualities of Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity (How to Be) and the 3 skills Pitch, Improvise, and Serve (What to Do). Each chapter ends with A Sample Case including resources and tips to help you implement the ideas right away (something that I find really helpful).

Being the right-brainer that I am, I was pleasantly surprised to see some "softer skills" like listening, mirroring, asking questions, and even doing improv show up in a book about sales. Just like with a Whole New Mind, it was nice to these more right-brain aspects being valued in the business world.

A few of my favorite take-aways (there were many more) included learning about ways to problem-find rather than problem-solve to help frame offers in a more compelling way. And his section on Buoyancy gave me some valuable perspective on how to deal with the rejection that inevitably comes with putting yourself out there.

As a creative entrepreneur, I think To Sell is Human is a fantastic and accessible resource to help you feel more comfortable selling yourself, especially when you reframe it to being of service - "make it personal and make it purposeful." I've already shared some of the ideas from the book with my clients and community and they've been excited about it.

As someone who spent a decade in corporate America, I also can see how concepts like the 6 different ways to effectively pitch (from the Twitter Pitch to the Pixar Pitch) could help leaders and managers gain organizational buy-in on internal initiatives.

Whether you're officially in sales or not, in this day and age it's vital to effectively influence and persuade others. That's why I would recommend To Sell is Human to anyone looking to make a difference and move others. Order a copy for yourself and let it inspire you to make the world a better place with what you have to offer.

(Disclosure: I'm part of the volunteer book launch team and received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher. The comments and opinions expressed in this review are my own and have not been edited or approved by anyone. I liked the book so much I bought my own copy.)
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on February 2, 2013
I loved Pink's first two books. Unfortunately this one's pretty thin conceptually, reads like an aggregation of pop culture research and wisdom, and lacks a compelling purpose. Yeah we get it: persuasion is a form of selling. Sharing ideas, theories and beliefs all involve something that at the least common denominator could be loosely categorized as selling. And you attract more flies with honey than poo. Not exactly rocket surgery.
I recently heard Mr. Pink on NPR and essentially he gave away the store in 30 minutes of chat. Find the podcast and save some money.
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on January 3, 2013
First, some disclosure: I received an advanced copy of "To Sell is Human," and I interviewed Daniel Pink on my podcast "Social Triggers Insider." That said, there are three main reasons why this book is a must-read:

1. Even though the official statistic is "1 in 9 people" are in sales, the truth is, everyone is in sales. 1 in 9 people earn a commission for it, the other 8 live and die by their ability to sell... and they don't even realize it. Whether they're negotiating a raise from their boss, convincing their child to do homework, or turning a prospect into a client, their success depends on their ability to sell someone on something--and Dan Pink shows those people how to do it.

2. There are some huckster salesman that give honest people like a bad rep. What's weird is, I thought these hucksters were just bad people, but I've come to discover otherwise. It turns out there are sales trainers who teach their students to lie to get the sale, but this book will shows the liars that there's a better way.

3. Many mainstream books like this are "high level." They tell a great story, share interesting research, and give you ideas on how oyu may apply this to your life. Dan Pink's book is different. Between the "frames" for selling, and the 6 new types of pitches (they replace the elevator pitch), you get a complete tool-belt of strategies and tactics that you can begin using TODAY. Additionally, he's got these great "Sample Cases" mixed throughout his book where he shows you exactly how to use some of the tactics and strategies he shares.

That all said, I'm happy to have read this book, not once, but twice. I also admire the fact that he paid special attention to all of his sourcing because I'm the type of guy who reads all the source material..
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on July 17, 2013
in reading the first half of the book, I found myself agreeing with a lot that Pink has to say. But anybody that works in Silicon Valley probably has experienced the "everybody is a salesperson" mentality firsthand. So this was perhaps stating the blindingly obvious. Still, it was an easy read, somewhat entertaining and occasionally thought-provoking.

Where he lost me is at the end of the section on Attunement. There is a graph where "Grant plotted total revenue over the three months against employees' scores on the 1-to-7 scale" of extraversion. 25 data points beautifully aligned along a parabolic curve. Too beautifully aligned to be real statistical data. As Pink cites the source, I looked up Adam Grant's paper (available on his Wharton School of Business website) and lo and behold, the graph is there, Fig. 1: a "regression analysis showing a predicted curvilinear relationship between extraversion and sales revenue". In other words what Pink is selling as data, is actually a model. Grant is kind enough to provide the statistics for the model showing a correlation coefficient (R^2) of 0.32. For those unfamiliar with statistics, an R^2 of 1 is a perfect fit and for anything below 0.5, you need a better model. To Grant's credit, he doesn't claim that his model is good, only that it is better than the proposed alternatives. (And the statistical data in Fig. 2 really highlights how little correlation there is with the model in Fig. 1. Just the fact that the model and data are plotted in separate graphs by itself is a big red flag that the fit is poor. If the model is good, you plot it on top of the data.)

Does Pink understand the data in Grant's paper? At the very least, passing Fig.1 off as data is sloppy. A less kind interpretation is that it's the kind of old-fashioned, information-asymmetry driven, misleading salesmanship he decries in the opening sections of the book. And yet, here he is, going against his own advice.
I couldn't read the rest of the book. I mean, would you buy advice (or a book) from this guy?
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on January 7, 2013
I was disappointed with this book despite the positive reviews. As an entrepreneur, I found it to be boring, shallow and very light on sales insights and psychology. Chapter 7 on Pitches was way off the mark and would lead sales/business people in the wrong direction with quite a bit of misguided information.

I bought this book because it had such a high review rating, and I was surprised to find that it not deliver for me on content . I would never leave a negative comment unless I felt like others should be aware.
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