Review: “To Sell is Human” by Daniel H. Pink

If you know me or have read about me you will know that I have a very strong background in sales. In my time I’ve learned to “prospect” complete strangers in a mall, cold call more strangers on the phone and objection handle harder than anyone else. All the time I’ve hated it, like most people do, but I’ve soldiered on because that is what you did to become successful. It was very clear to me very early on, if not consciously, that learning how to sell is how to make it in this world.

However I spent little time on thinking about selling as such, much less the methods. I did what I was told from within the various sales environments I was in (and I had some of the best sales training in the world) and pushed through. When Blair Singer met me and I showed interest in SalesPartners he was not surprisingly ecstatic. He knew the school I went through and deemed it the perfect fit, so did I. I mentioned I hated sales but that deterred neither him nor me, I went on to use the methods he put together to overcome my little voice, all the while not actually wanting to do this hard convincing of myself and other unsuspecting people.

I’m telling you all this background to show you how utterly relieved I am about Daniel H. Pink’s new book. My SalesPartners franchise didn’t succeed partly because I had a battle inside me, I felt some of the methods were outdated and yet I couldn’t formulate an updated version, much less use it. Blair is one of the best sales trainers there are and I’m eternally grateful for what I’ve learned through his trainings, I want to make that point clearly. I do feel though the time is right to move on from the old paradigm of cold-calling and objection handling and into a new world of sales.

daniel pink to sell is humanEnter “To Sell is Human”, the new book by Daniel H. Pink, who’s very well known for his best-seller “Drive” dealing with how to motivate people. In his new book he tackles sales as we know it and what an eye opener it is! He cleans up a lot of the “truths” about sales that have turned into myths in this new day and age.

Who’s better at sales, extrovert or introvert?

If you thought you need to be an extrovert to be successful in sales, you’re wrong. In fact he shows that being an extrovert actually causes you to lose sales! Introverts not surprisingly don’t fare well either. So who then makes the most sales? It’s the ambiverts! It’s those people who aren’t either or, who are what they need to be in the specific circumstances. (Do this test if  you want to know which one you are)

His book is full of these and other revelations about who sells how in this day and age. The truth is, and I’ve been saying this for a long time, we all are selling. Think for a moment of your last 24 hours and count the times when you’ve tried to persuade, influence or move someone to act. Yes, that does include getting your kid to eat his vegetables and your spouse to listen to you for a moment. Selling boils down to the ability to move people and Daniel builds this case extremely well in his book. It might not involve a direct sale of a product or service, which then is called non-sales selling, but it is selling nevertheless.

Jam-packed with new scientific study results he makes the case page by page on how sales has changed, how we can change and adept and what we can do to succeed in moving others. One of the main reasons things have changed particularly in the last 10 years is because of the internet. There used to be an information asymmetry in the old days being caveat emptor “buyer beware”, it is now the opposite, we entered caveat venditor. Today’s buyer comes packed with information to the vendor before he/she makes a purchase. As buyers we are no longer at the mercy of unscrupulous vendors, the world has become a lot more transparent and open.

(Sidenote: this is of course the reason for the rise of inbound marketing, as a business we have to provide the material the buyers are researching to be top of their mind when they are ready to make a sale.)

Even and particularly in the medical industry this has changed a lot too. Have you ever been diagnosed with some illness and then went to Google to search for details? Or even before you went to the doctor searched to find what your symptoms could mean? My own doctor has said to me before “Google this word to find out more”. In today’s world it is not uncommon for the buyer to have more information than the “salesman”.

In part 1 of Daniel’s book he explains this change in great detail. The chapter is called “Rebirth of a salesman” and it’s fascinating to read to be sure. However he doesn’t leave us hanging with knew information but no knowledge to apply it. In part 2 he goes into “How To Be” and part 3 “What To Do”. These chapters are full of great examples, tips and tricks to help move into this new world of sales, where it becomes about the other person more than ever before.

be of serviceBe of service

After reading the book this thought of mine was utterly re-inforced:

In the end sales means nothing else than to be of utmost service to those around us. — BH (Tweet this)

To be successful we have to honestly believe that the service we render leaves the person better off than before and ultimately that the world has become a better place than it was before because of this particular interaction we had with another human being, urging them to move. This is a philosophy that drives me every day, I live this through and through. So much so that I cannot work with any companies in a meaningful relationship who do not have this principle at their heart.

Reading Daniel’s book has reignited my passion for sales – moving others to act. It’s always been there and I’m looking forward to bringing sales training more centre stage in my offerings, in this new light of positivity. If you in any way interact with others and find yourself trying to convince them of an idea, a product or anything really, do yourself a favour and get this book. The exercises are brilliant, I have experienced each of them myself over the years, and they truly are very efficient. A great read, coming highly recommended by me.

Have you read the book yet? Or do you have any questions around sales? Leave your comments below!

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