To Sell is Human

Everybody’s selling something, be it a product, image, idea etc. [i]

I’m reading Daniel H. Pink’s new book To Sell is Human and loving it. I tell my folks all the time that they are always selling to the client, to their co-workers, or to me. Whether it’s our services, an idea, or their performance, they should be cognizant of how they present themselves, their thoughts, etc. because all of it plays a role in the outcome. Pink talks throughout the book about the importance of moving people and the powers of persuasion and he makes the case that broadly, we are all in sales. I’ve made this point to employees, co-workers, and clients a hundred times and I love the way he presents it. So many people have the image of the stereotypical used cars salesman in their head and think of sales in terms of getting over on someone. I know that in my business this simply wouldn’t work and the rise of the information era has greatly reduced the effectiveness of this type of sale. Today’s buyers are perhaps the most informed customers to walk the face of the earth and vendors should and do recognize this new empowerment. Pink also broadens the scope of what is generally considered sales to include what he calls non-sales selling, “persuading, influencing and convincing others in ways that don’t involve anyone making a purchase.”

This is the area I have been pushing with clients and employees for a long time. We all spend a good amount of time working on convincing others to choose a path we would prefer, even if it’s simply trying to convince your spouse to see a movie you’d like to see or your child to eat veggies. Given its relative importance and the huge portion of our lives dedicated to these types of activities, most of us spend relatively little time devoted to building skill in this area. Pink then walks through an approach to non-sales selling that is truly unique and that I believe every single person could benefit from. All of this is done with a unique storytelling style that makes for easy reading and remembering. Pink is quick to provide insightful statistics and historical references that really add to his points. I thought one of the most interesting sections is where he is describing the sales industry. Interesting tidbits include:

  • The U.S. Department of Labor counts 1 in 10 Americans as working sales
  • The number of people with sales jobs is 5 times as many as work for the US federal government.
  • If the nation’s salespeople lived in a single state it would be the fifth largest in the United States
  • Australia, the UK and the EU all have about 10% of the workforce officially categorized as sales
  • Polls show people outside of sales spend about 40% of their time in selling related activities (persuading, influencing, and convincing)

The book is full of other interesting numbers and he builds a compelling case that most of our lives center around things that could in some form or fashion be considered selling. He covers some of the changes that have led to this and why it might not be such a bad thing. In general, I’ve loved the book, which I intend to finish this evening. I’d be curious what others think of the book if they’ve read it and I’d be interested in particular in the thoughts of those whose jobs fall well outside of the traditional sales category. Do you think selling is important to what you do? What are you selling if it isn’t a product? How are you working to build non-selling sales skills?

[i] Photo By: Nacmias Auto Sales, Service, and Repairs Rich Nacmias

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply