Summer Reading: To Sell is Human

Whether it's selling's traditional form or its non-sales variation, we're all in sales now.

To Sell is Human by Dan Pink

I just finished reading To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink as part of my summer reading list. This was a very interesting book with some serious implications to the working lives of most of today’s workforce. Below is a quick review of the book but the bottom line is: you should read it sooner rather than later.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics one out of every nine (11%) American workers works in sales. That’s 15,000,000 people in America alone. In fact, we have more sales people in America than factory workers even though manufacturing is a $2,000,000,000,000 (trillion) industry. Crazy, right?

Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human explores two key findings:

  1. People spend around 40% of their time at work engaged in non-sales selling.
  2. People consider the non-sales selling aspect of their work crucial to their personal success.

What is non-sales selling?

[non-sales selling involves] persuading, influencing, and convincing others in ways that don’t involve anyone making a purchase. Across a range of professions we are devoting roughly twenty-four minutes of every hour to moving others.

In short, non-sales selling involves moving others. This is an integral part of any job whether you are trying to get your kids to study, convince your boss to free up resources, work with another cross-functional group to accept your new idea on a project, or a myriad of other scenarios where you try to get someone else to part with their resources.

The new ABCs

The old ABCs of traditional sales, Always Be Closing has helped create a culture of salespeople being viewed as sub-human or unethical. This mentality will not work in today’s corporate environment.

Instead, Pink outlines the new ABCs of non-sales selling integral to your efforts to move others:

  • Attunement - Bringing yourself into harmony with others. Understand their needs and how you can serve them.
  • Buoyancy - Learn to deal with rejection and bathe yourself in constant feedback after each encounter where you attempt to move someone else.
  • Clarity - The ability to uncover information and challenges others didn’t know they had. And, helping them come up with a solution.

The one thing you should know

You are in sales now, whether you like it or not. Not the cheap-suit used car salesman trying to con you into parting with your hard earned cash type. But rather, the professional hard-working type that is living in a world where achieving results is closely tied to building relationships.

Your future success is closely dependent on your ability to move others in a way that is built on trust and mutual benfit.

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What do you think?