Book Review: To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

Published on January 27, 2021 by Sushant Shekhar


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Daniel Pink’s book, ‘To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others’ offers a new perspective on the world of sales.

The book has strategies and techniques for sales that seem counterintuitive at first but begin to make sense when Pink provides scientific literature to back his claim.

His book isn’t just for salespeople; anyone can gain new insights from this book and use them in everyday life.

Pink begins by expanding the common understanding of the word “selling.” Selling isn’t limited to salespeople. Everyone is involved in sales in some way or the other. Persuading and influencing others has become a part of our lives.

For example:

Managers influence their employees to do something new.

Parents persuade their children to help out at home.

We are always trying to convince others. We are “selling” to other people that our vision for doing something is the right one.

With this crucial understanding in mind, the book, To Sell is Human, has become a useful read for anyone.

Selling has changed

Another critical factor that makes the book relevant is that we live in an age of information parity.

A long time ago, the sales world had customers who knew almost nothing about the product. Salespeople would leverage this fact in their favor. No one can try to con a customer at this age because he/she will find out the truth and choose another alternative product.

Therefore, the sales process and how salespeople pitch their product has changed.

The seller should believe in the product

Selling ability enhances if the seller truly believes that the product will improve the customer’s life.

Some products may be more interesting than others, but that doesn’t matter if improvement energizes the seller. A practical understanding of the issues that a product can solve lets the seller believe in the product, and this belief shows in his/her pitch. 

Don’t take rejection personally

Another tip for sellers is not to take rejection personally. There may be many reasons for refusal. Sometimes these reasons are not related to the seller’s ability in any way. This view on rejection doesn’t leave the seller dejected and helps him/her get better outcomes in the future.

Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity

Daniel Pink provides a new understanding of the sales acronym ABC (Always Be Closing). ABC in Pink’s book stands for Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. 

Attunement means perspective-taking. It relates to how well a person can understand and empathize with the people he/she is trying to persuade.

Buoyancy is the ability to bounce back from the rejection faced when selling.

Clarity refers to the ability to filter information, make sense of it and create patterns from it that allow the seller to make better pitches.

To Sell is Human: Selling Techniques

With these critical pieces of information in mind, Pink explains selling techniques that make persuasion and influence easier.

1. Interrogative Self-talk

One way to prepare for a pitch meeting is to use interrogative self-talk.

Usually, salespeople build themselves up by saying, “I can do this”. But, Pink suggests that asking questions such as “Can I do this?” is a better way to prepare oneself. By asking questions like this one, the salesperson can find their reasons for pitching the product.

Questions allow salespeople to think about how best to sell the product and rehearse the pitch in their minds. This gives them more confidence and becomes more effective than affirmative statements. 

2. Motivational Interviewing

To Sell is Human by Pink, details how a technique that he calls motivational interviewing helps in persuasion goes beyond the world of traditional sales. 

He gives an example in which he tries to persuade his daughter to clean her room. By asking the right questions, his daughter learns about the reasons for cleaning her room. This interaction makes her understand that cleaning the space is essential.

This technique is much better than the carrot-and-stick method that is usually used by most parents.

3. Be attuned to the customer’s motives

The goal of every salesperson is to find and clarify another person’s desire to act.

Before jumping into selling the product, the salesperson needs to be attuned to the customer’s motives. Then the salesperson can provide comparisons that would explain what the customer stands to gain from the product. The salesperson compares the customer’s everyday experience to their possible experience. This sparks the customer’s interest in the product.

Without attunement and clarity, the customer may feel that the salesperson has nothing essential to offer them.

4. Alternatives to Elevator Pitch

Daniel Pink explains several other pitches that are as effective as the elevator pitch.

The one-word rise can be instrumental in this age where everyone is busy and has a short attention span.

The rhyming pitch uses taglines that rhyme in their pitch to appeal to their customers. Rhyming words increase one’s “processing fluency,” which leads to customers remembering your pitch even after a long time has passed.

The question pitch elicits the customer’s reasons for believing in something and strengthens this belief.

Summing up the book ‘To Sell is Human’

1. A salesperson must genuinely believe in the product and in its ability to improve the customer’s life.

2. Sellers must not let rejection affect them personally.

3. Every salesperson must use attunement or perspective taking, buoyancy meaning the ability to bounce back from rejection and clarity in the pitches (ABC).

4. A better way to prepare oneself before pitching the product is to question oneself.

5. A salesperson must provide comparisons that clearly explain what the customer gains from buying the product.

Buy the book here: Amazon

To conclude, Daniel Pink’s book, ‘To Sell is Human’ is a must-read for all salespeople. Another positive for this book is that even people who are not involved in the sales area can read this book to hone their persuasion skills. Throughout the book, Daniel Pink explains his ideas and techniques for effective selling and persuasion with several anecdotes. His arguments apply to everyone and can be used by anyone to have an effective sales interaction.

About Author
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Sushant Shekhar

Founder of SalesBlink.io


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