To Sell is Human

To Sell is Human begins by reframing our understanding of what it is to sell. The author does this by analysing how he spends his days, who he interacts with, and the purpose of each action. The conclusion is that he spends the majority of his time trying to convince or influence the decisions of others, and he is a salesman. To Sell is Human explains why the modern world requires us to sell more than ever, but the rules of the game have changed. The old ABC adage of “Always Be Closing“ is redefined as “Atonement, Buoyancy, Clarity." Pink describes these elements as follows:

Atonement: the ability to bring your actions and outlook into harmony with the context you are in and the people you are interacting with.

Buoyancy: staying afloat amidst the ocean of constant rebuffs and rejection. One test is to ask yourself: “Can I move these people”, and if so, accept rejection as part of the process.

Clarity: the capacity to help other people see and identify problems they didn't know they had. Let's face it; customers have plenty of problems, not least “information overload”, and this can be used as a way for salespeople to differentiate themselves.

Pink backs his theories with research and uses behavioural science to correlate results with modern buyer habits. I liked the parts that discussed redefining the pitch process, the 6 successors to an elevator pitch, using techniques from stand-up improvisation to navigate tricky situations, and the mantra of modern sales professionals: “make it personal, and make it purposeful.” I highly recommend the audiobook; it was easy to follow and well-narrated by the author.