To Sell Is Human – by Dan Pink

To Sell Is Human – by Dan Pink

‘The surprising truth about persuading, convincing and influencing others’

Dan Pink has done it again. We first reviewed ‘Drive’ back in 2016, and now we’re reviewing his book about sales and ‘non-sales selling’. Pink lays down the ABC of ‘how to be’ when selling: Atunement, Buoyancy, Clarity. Then, the three ‘what to do’ when selling: Pitch, Serve, Improvise. If you’re in the 1 out of 9 people that have ‘sales’ directly in their job description, you can use these to improve your technique. And even if you’re in the 8 out of 9 people that aren’t specifically in sales, you are still in ‘non-sales selling’ and can use these to influence and persuade people when selling your ideas.


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Here is a dot point summary of the book!

  • Leave aside sleep, exercise and hygiene, it turns out I spend a significant portion of my days trying to coax others to part with resources
  • Seeking resources other than just money
  • Like it or not we are all in sales now, wheteher pushing Buicks on a car lot or pitching ideas in a meeting
  • We are all engaged in ‘non sales selling’, persuading , convincing and influencing others to give something they’ve got in exchange for what weve got


  • We have moved from buyer beware to seller beware
  • Where only honesty, fairness and transparency are the only viable path
  • Pink wants to make us more effective at moving others and see selling in a new light


Part 1 – Rebirth of a salesman


Ch1 – We are all in sales now

  • Individuals can now do their own research and get buying advice from their social networks
  • We now rely on smartphones and websites to locate and purchase we need
  • We spend a lot of time persuading, invluencing and convincing others
  • We sell ourselves online, with facebook, twitter or tinder
  • Learning these skills or persuading, influencing and convincing others is crucial to individual success

A good algebra teacher at the start needs to convince her students to part their resources, time attention and effort, and will be better off at the end of the term


Ch2 Entrepreneurship, elasticity and ed med

  • Harvard University professor says  that the middle class employment wont be part of large organizations, but self sufficient artisans
  • These one or two person outfits need to sell services, creativity and expertise
  • 750K people have ebay as their primary income

Reason 1 – entrepreneurship / freelancing trend

The second reason we are all in sales is…


  • New breadth of skills demanded by established companies


  • People who don’t have authority from their job title have to find other ways to exer their power


Ch3 from caveat emptor to caveat venditor

  • Assymetrical information creates headaches
  • If the seller knows more about the product thantthe buyer, the buyer gets suspicious
  • Why is he getting rid of it? Am I getting hoodwinked?
  • Now buyers and sellers have access to the same amount of information
  • If you encounter a dirty dealing, you can smash them on FB or blogs
  • Most of the selling is done people show up, for traditional
  • When buyers know more than sellers, sellers are no longer protectors and purveyors of information
  • Theyre the curators and clarifiers of it – helping to make sense of the blizzards of facts


Part 2 – How to be


Ch 4 – attunement

  • Perspective taking is at the heart of the first essential quality in moving others today


  1. Increase the power by reducing it
  • Power leads to anchor too heavily on their own vantage point, insufficiently adjusting to the others perspective


  1. Use your head as much as your heart
  • Perspective taking and empathy as empirical twins
  • Think about what they are thinking


  1. Strategically mimic
  • Sign of trust, chameleon effect
  • Don’t get noticed
  • Be strategic and human, be strategic by being human


The ambivert advantage

  • Too extravert and too intravert perform the worst in sales
  • A study of ‘who sells the most’ showed that people in the middle, ambivert most successful



  • Practice strategic mimcry
  • Pull up a chair and think of the audience in presentaiton
  • Find uncommon commonalities


Ch5 – buoyancy

  • Any sales man, whether trying to convince customers or colleagues to make a change – must contend with the wave of rebuffs, refusals and repudiations
  • To stay affloat is the second essential quality of moving others, buoyancy
  • Don’t be like Law of the Attraction,, be like Bob the Builder
  • Most effective way to stay motivated is to shift from making statements to asking questinos

Positivity Ratios

  • Positive view broadens peoples ideas about possible actions, openning our awareness to a wider range of thoughts
  • Positivity in a sales encounter infects the buyer, making him less adversial and more open to possiblity
  • 3 to 1 up to 11 to one is the right range of positive to negative emotions



  • Ask the question, can I move these people?
  • List 5 reasons why your answer is yes
  • This is a sturdier and more substantive grounding than mere affirmation


  • Monitor your positivity ratio
  • Embrace no’s



Ch 6 – Clarity

  • The amount of people who havent made adequate preparations for their goldnen years stands somewhere between grim and alarming
  • Clarity, the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems they didn’t realize they had


Find your frames

  • A homeless man had a sign ‘I am blind’
  • When sign was changed to ‘It is Springtime, and I am blind’
  • People started giving bills


  • Clarity depends on contrast
  • The most essential question is compared to what?
  • Best way to introduce someone or sell someone is to have the negative information follow the positive
  • When people encounter negative information after having already received positive information, the weak info ironically highlgiths or increases the salience of the positive information


The potential frame

  • The potential to be good at something can be preferred to actually being good
  • Emphasize the promise of what could be accomplished tomorrow



  • In sales askign the right questions is better than having the right answers


Part 3 What to do


Ch 7 Pitch

  • No longer the elevator pitch. 50 years ago that was the only chance to encounter the CEO
  • Ask quesitons makes them think?
  1. The one word pitch
  • Nowadays only brutally simple ideas get through


  1. The question pitch
  • Ask sales prospect a question rather than statements, do you think it s agood idea?


  1. The rhyming pitch
  • Life is strife
  • Woes unite foes
  • Message sticks In tehir ind


  1. Subject line pitch
  • Every email we send is a pitch


  1. The Twitter Pitch
  2. The pixar pitch
  • Once upon a time… Every day… One day… Because of that…. Because of that… … Until finally…


Ch8 – improvise

  • Sales and theatre both have much in common, both take guts
  • The idea of turning people around is less probably or possible than ever
  1. Improv is all about hearing offers

Can generate ideas, incorporate changes quickly and easily, and communicate effectively and convincingly during sales presentations

  1. Improv makes you listen better
  • Not taught in schools
  • The assumption is that the ability to listn well is a natural gift for which no training is required
  • How extraordinary thatno effort is made anywhere in the whole educatoinal process
  • Good improv makes it look like everything is prearranged, they accept all offers made


  1. Say yes and
  2. Make your partner look good
  • Win win


Ch9 – serve

  • Be personal and purposeful, if your moving people
  • Not only we should be serving , we should be tapping into others innate desire to serve
  • Those who move others aren’t manipulators, but are servants, serve first and sell later
  • Will the person you selling to life improve?

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