In To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others, Daniel Pink takes a fresh look at selling. Recent research shows that a range of paradigms on sales or selling aren’t adequate anymore. A lot of us are in selling, not only the 1 out of 9 that has a function name with ‘sales’ in it. Convincing and persuasing, in other words moving others to an action is core to most of our work. Do you like that idea? According to spontaneous associations with the concept of sales or selling you wouldn’t think so. But is that paradigm still valid? It comes from a ‘buyer beware’ age of information asymmetry. Nowadays we can search for everything on Google, check reviews or ask peers, before we go out to buy a product or service or enter a job interview.
Forget the ‘Always Be Closing’ mantra of sales persons, learn the new ABC: attunement (take different perspectives, think outside in), buoyancy ( the combination of ‘a gritty spirit and a sunny outlook’. How to float on the ocean of rejection) and clarity (get from problem solving to problem finding). Increase your effectiveness by reducing your feelings of power. Realize, that there’s no correlation between extraverts and sales performance. Most of us are ambiverts (sometimes introvert, at other times extravert). Be yourself, authenticity rules today. Think of the power of social influence with specific addressed messages or tips. Give people an ‘off-ramp’ for an easy way to act.
Leave the ‘I can do this’ self-help mantra behind. Instead, get into interrogative self-talk. ‘Can you do this?’ will trigger you to answer. Think of Bob the Builder‘s ‘Can we fix it?’ -> ‘Yes, we can!’. Make it personal. The elevator pitch isn’t that relevant anymore. You can meet people just everywhere, but beware of possible distractions. Six new ways to pitch are: the one-word pitch, the question pitch, the rhyming pitch, the 140-character Twitter pitch, the subject line pitch (which promises useful content or elicits curiosity), or the Pixar pitch (a six-sentence narrative structure supposedly used in all Pixar movies).
If these techniques don’t work, practice your improvisation skills: listening, saying ‘yes, and’ and make sure the buyer looks good. Don’t argue to settle a win-lose. And: serve first, sell next. Welcome, fellow sales people!
About the author
Daniel H. Pink is the author of a trio of provocative, bestselling books on the changing world of work: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, Free Agent Nation, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Dan’s articles on business and technology appear in many publications, including The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Wired, where he is a contributing editor. He has provided analysis of business trends on CNN, CNBC, ABC, NPR, and other networks. Dan also speaks to corporations, associations, universities and educators about economic transformation and the new workplace.
A free agent himself, Dan held his last real job in the White House, where he served from 1995 to 1997 as chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore. He also worked as an aide to U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich and in other positions in politics and government. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and Yale Law School. To his lasting joy, he has never practiced law. Dan lives with his wife and their three children in Washington, DC.