A book review of To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink
The somewhat irrational distaste for selling receives a severe blow in Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human, a well-researched yet practical guide to increasing your ability to sell, or what Pink calls ‘moving others’. As a job seeker, you are on a personal selling mission, and Pink’s analysis of today’s hiring managers will show you how to sell is human, AND engaging, uplifting, and clear. He sold me. Go buy it now. It will raise your game, overnight.
The three tenets to Pink’s ‘How to Be’ were my biggest ah hah’s and the focus of this review. He accepts the reality that the new-information-driven economy has changed the rules of convincing others, showing how the shyest and most bashful professional may be in the best position to be a personal marketing guru who can move people to want them in their organization.
I said he was engaging; he calls it Attunement.
With attunement you demonstrate an ability to ‘bring one’s actions and outlook into harmony with other people and with the context you’re in’.
People with large egos (‘high power’) tend to view the world from their own point of view. Yet people who can give up their own point of view for another (‘low power’) have far greater capacity for attunement, one of the human secrets of moving people.
Low-power people can appear to lack self-confidence, yet their other-oriented approach gives them attunement skills, if they choose to recognize this capacity.
In today’s selling world (where readily available information rules), the ability to take another’s perspective (figure out what they’re thinking) creates a huge impact on moving others.
An example of an attunement strategy in the physical realm is to mimic what another is doing. They fold their arms, you fold your arms; they speak rapidly, you speak rapidly. They take a drink of water, you take a drink of water. It’s a well-known interviewing trick, and Pink explains why it is so powerful. I’ve tried it; Pink’s right: when done with subtlety – it’s like magic.
I said he was uplifting; he calls it Buoyancy.
Norman Hall is one of the last Fuller Brush door-to-door salesmen alive. Pink shadows him on a day of selling, and shows how buoyancy keeps Norman entertaining and productive, an approach and a mindset that Pink shows balances optimism and humor with realism and frustration.
The success ratio is 3:1. If you can maintain positive statements in your self-talk, positive opinions of your potential employers, positive actions in the face of rejection, AND maintain an awareness and openness that difficulties do exist – ‘sometimes in these situations, I get flustered by questions, so this time I’ll take a breath before responding,’ then your results can be, statistically will be higher.
Those with a ratio higher than 3:1 are kidding themselves about the challenges of their circumstance. Instead of ‘I will’ positive statements, what works better is to turn the positive declaration into a question. Instead of ‘I will have a job in 90 days’ say ‘can I have a job in 90 days?’ This approach to preparation encourages a creative and productive mindset, and makes it more likely to retain buoyancy.
And I said he was clear; he calls it Clarity.
Clarity on how to act in personal selling situations, what to say, what to ask. Pink underscores the power of great questions. In the sample case of Clarity, he recommends two ‘irrational questions’.
If you are speaking with someone about hiring you, you ask them ‘on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 ‘not the least bit ready’ and 10 meaning ‘totally ready’ how ready are you to make a decision? Whatever number they say, your follow-up is” ‘why didn’t you pick a lower number?’ This catches them off guard.
Asking why the number isn’t lower is the catalyst, and causes people to explain their reasons for picking the higher number, and allows them to clarify their personal, positive and intrinsic motives for making a hiring decision. Clarity leads to moving others.
Pink is a subtle salesman at heart, and most professionals stuck in the uncomfortable personal selling situation will be moved.
Pink’s ‘How to Be’s’ section and so much else in this book (available on Kindle too) make it a compelling read for a job changer, and a useful guide for getting hiring managers to say ‘I want to offer you a job.’