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To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others Paperback – December 3, 2013
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"Full of aha! moments . . . timely, original, throughly engaging, deeply humane."
—strategy + business
“A fresh look at the art and science of sales using a mix of social science, survey research and stories.”
—Dan Schawbel, Forbes.com
"Artfully blend(s) anecdotes, insights, and studies from the social sciences into a frothy blend of utility and entertainment."
"Excellent…radical, surprising, and undeniably true."
—Harvard Business Review Blog
“Pink has penned a modern day How to Win Friends and Influence People... To Sell Is Human is chock full of stories, social science, and surprises…All leaders—at least those who want to ‘move’ people—should own this book.”
—Training and Development magazine
"Vastly entertaining and informative."
—Phil Johnson, Forbes.com
"Pink is one of our smartest thinkers about the interaction of work, psychology and society."
"A roadmap to help the rest of us guide our own pitches."
“Like discovering your favorite professor in a box…packed with information, reasons to care about his message, how and why to execute his suggestions, and it's all accentuated with meaningful examples… this book deserves a good, long look.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"An engaging blend of interviews, research and observations by [this] incisive author"
—The Globe and Mail
About the Author
Daniel H. Pink is the author of four books, including the long-running New York Times bestsellers Drive and A Whole New Mind. His books have been translated into thirty-three languages and have sold more than a million copies in the United States alone. Pink lives with his family in Washington, D.C.
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Awesome sales book. I especially liked how he spent the first third of the book talking about how pretty much everyone in the world today is in some form of selling. You might not see yourself as a "traditional salesman," but whatever you're line of work is, your survival/success will depend on how well you can "move people" (i.e. get them to part with their resources, such as time/money/energy, in exchange for some value you can provide to them).
I'm following this book up with "Instant Influence" by Pantalon, which Pink references and recommends as additional reading in this book.
Disclosure: I've read most of the classic books like Influence by Cialdini, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Bettger, Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff, etc. and still found this one to be extremely helpful.
The measure of any book is the value you can get out of it - i.e. what can you apply to your life/goal from the author's work/recommendations. I definitely found quite a few ideas that I could apply to a venture I'll be undertaking in the very near future (fundraising for a new hedge fund).
Pink starts out by telling us how his book is for more than just salesman. The reality though, is that everyone is in sales. You may not make cold calls or get people to buy things, but you are seeking to motivate people everyday. Whether that is a boss, a child, a spouse or a friend.
For leaders, this concept is enormous, but it is even more important for pastors. Every week, when a pastor preaches, they are seeking to move people. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, they seek to help people move from where they are to their next step with God. This takes motivation. According to Pink, this takes sales. While pastors will bristle at this idea, it is also true. Call it motivation or sales, it is the same thing. According to Pink, "The average person spends 40% of their life trying to move others. We're persuading, convincing, and influencing others to give up something they've got in exchange for what we've got."
One of the problems Pink points out that we have when it comes to communicating is that we don't help people identify the correct problem. This is huge for preaching, helping people see what they could fix. Pastors often answer questions people aren't asking, and therefore don't move the people they are preaching to.
Another takeaway for me as a preacher is helping people to see what a truth could look like in their life 5 years from now. I've started to say in sermons, "Imagine what your life would be like if you believed ____________." People are often unmoved, not because they don't understand something, but because they can't see the benefit or goodness of something.
Here are a few things that jumped out:
-One of the most effective ways of moving others is to uncover challenges they may not know they have.
-To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources--not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.
-The correlation between extraversion and sales was essentially nonexistent.
-You have to believe in the product you're selling--and that has to show.
-Once positive emotions outnumbered negative emotions by 3 to 1--that is, for every three instances of feeling gratitude, interest, or contentment, they experienced only one instance of anger, guilt, or embarrassment--people generally flourished.
-Next time you're getting ready to persuade others, reconsider how you prepare. Instead of pumping yourself up with declarations and affirmations, take a page from Bob the Builder and pose a question instead. Ask yourself: "Can I move these people?" As social scientists have discovered, interrogative self-talk is often more valuable than the declarative kind. But don't simply leave the question hanging in the air like a lost balloon. Answer it--directly and in writing. List five specific reasons why the answer to your question is yes.
-The problem we have saving for retirement, these studies showed, isn't only our meager ability to weigh present rewards against future ones. It is also the connection--or rather, the disconnection--between our present and future selves.
-The third quality necessary in moving others today: 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.
-We often understand something better when we see it in comparison with something else than when we see it in isolation.
-So if you're selling a car, go easy on emphasizing the rich Corinthian leather on the seats. Instead, point out what the car will allow the buyer to do--see new places, visit old friends, and add to a book of memories.
-Clarity on how to think without clarity on how to act can leave people unmoved.
-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.
-Questions can outperform statements in persuading others.
Overall, a worthwhile book for leaders or preachers.
Instead, Pink is proposing something that I have been struggling with for the past five years and suggesting to anyone who would listen: traditional sales isn't any longer anyone's job. It's everyone's job because sales has fundamentally changed. Pink states that "Most of what we think we understand about selling is constructed atop a foundation of assumptions that has crumbled." He further states that sales has changed more in the past 10 years than it had in the previous 100 years.
Pink replaces the old standard ABC rule in sales; "Always Be Closing" with a new ABCs-- Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. He proceeds to explain what he means by each in the following chapters of the book. Briefly, attunement is bringing oneself into harmony with individuals, groups and contexts. Buoyancy is the quality that combines grittiness of spirit and the sunniness of outlook. It's what allows salespeople to overcome the "ocean of rejection" they face every day and still function. Clarity is the capacity to make sense of complex situations, that gray area we all try to avoid. Salespeople become problem finders rather than problem solvers.
To Sell is Human is broken into three parts: Part 1 is Rebirth of a Salesman, Part 2 is How to Be and Part 3 is What to Do. He develops a new category he introduces as "non-sales selling" where we (all of us not in the traditional sales position) are "persuading, convincing, and influencing others to give up something they've got in exchange for what we've got." i One of the more important changes that Pink underscores is that the salesperson is no longer needed as a curator of information. Sellers are able, if they so choose, to be as well informed about the products and services as the salesperson. He coins the phrase caveat venditor - seller beware.
At the end of each chapter in parts 2 and 3 are dozens of techniques assembled from fresh research and best practices around the world. Pink maintains that the ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is a crucial ability that is required for our survival and wellbeing. The capacity to "sell" isn't some unnatural adaptation to the merciless world of commerce. It is a part of who we are.
On a personal note, I found this book to be both refreshing and humorous. Refreshing because Pink gave me a way to think about and express what I have been seeing and talking about for a long time now. Specifically that sell is a four-letter-word. More and more people are turned off by traditional sales (even the so-called "consultative selling" is now seen as manipulative.) And I found the book humorous because I found that I was laughing at myself. Pink introduces us to Norman Hall. Hall is shadowed as he goes through his usual (and traditional in many ways) sales job in San Francisco. Hall is the very last Fuller Brush Salesman. Why that made me laugh is because I am old enough that I brush my hair almost every morning with a Fuller Brush that my mother gave to me one Christmas when I was a young teenager. I have been using it ever since. I remember the Fuller Brush man (and yes, they were all men as far as I know) ringing our doorbell and brining new products into the house for my parents to purchase. By the way, what product do you still use that was purchased more than 50 years ago?
Since I spent many years as a professional salesperson, the passing of the traditional sales model is, for me, more disturbing than the passing of our usual business models or the accelerating obsolescence of products. There is no going back though, and those who work in the sales function would do well to read Pink's view on how things have changed. For those of us not in a direct sales function would do well to understand that fundamentally we are all selling in one way or another. Indeed, to sell is human.