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Customer Review

489 of 523 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To sell is human; to give a referral, divine, December 31, 2012
This review is from: To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others (Hardcover)
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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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 2, 2013 9:53:12 PM PST
Jose Rivera says:
You rock!

Posted on May 12, 2013 4:22:10 AM PDT
T. Miller says:
Brilliant copy. Bought the book!

Posted on Jan 8, 2014 6:13:13 PM PST
Scott says:
Great insight from a credible source inside the industry.

Posted on Feb 3, 2014 12:52:12 PM PST
You sold me! I would look forward to reading books you write!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2014 3:34:22 PM PST
Thanks, Melissa.

I'm afraid my reviews are much better than my books, but, my books are
still pretty good:

Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich: Create Winning Ads, Web Pages, Sales Letters and More

The Money-Making Copywriting Course

The Story Behind Awesome Story Telling

Posted on Mar 2, 2014 10:36:29 AM PST
Colby Clark says:
Thank you for your great feedback - bought the book!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2014 8:13:44 AM PST
Quick question. I am in the process of pitching a TV commercial to an agency. I came across Pinks book as I was looking up pitch ideas. I am getting storyboards done now and I have contacts in New York that work for big agencies, but I have to put together a winning pitch to give my contacts who essentially will be sending it to them. Would you recommend Pinks book or one of yours?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2014 9:04:21 AM PST
OK, great question.

IF it is an "image" (branding) ad, I would recommend neither book. Perhaps
Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by
Oren Klaff as a starting point, and, for memorability (brands are supposed to be "remembered,") consider
The Micro-Script Rules: It's not what people hear. It's what they repeat... by Bill Schely.

IF it's a _selling_ ad (infomercial, short-form infomercial, direct-response ad), Dan's book could be
very helpful, and I'd recommend this one of mine: Breakthrough Copywriting: How To Generate Quick Cash With The Written Word.
My book will show you exactly how to structure the content of the ad, and will give you a lot of ideas for pitching
as well.

Hope that helps.

Posted on Apr 12, 2014 7:29:17 PM PDT
Excellent and extremely helpful review. What you typed helped me immediately, and I'll get the book. Checking out your books as well. Thank you for taking the time to write such a powerful review.

Posted on Aug 14, 2015 3:29:08 PM PDT
What a great and well written review. I am a trial lawyer and the only books I read to help me at trials are sales books. I read copywriting books to help me write my legal briefs. Your review was so well written I bought the book immediately and will be buying your books as well. Thank you !
Steven Goldstein
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