In To Sell Is Human, bestselling author Daniel Pink debunks the trope of the polyester-clad trickster as the face of sales in America. In fact, Pink found that most Americans now spend a good part of their job in “non-sales” sales, moving people by persuasion even if they aren’t trying to get them to buy a product. Pink explores how the increased accessibility due to the internet has made being a buyer better than ever and what salespeople need to do to be successful in a “caveat venditor” (seller aware) economy. Here are the 7 key insights from To Sell Is Human:
In modern sales, the low road is harder to pass.
The internet has introduced an age of information symmetry. No longer are buyers reliant on stereotypically sleazy cars salesmen to guide their purchases. Instead, sellers have to be able to curate information for customers in a way that helps them make a sale. It also means that it’s easier to see a dishonest dealing when it’s happening.
In order to sell, you have to attune yourself with the customer.
There’s no such thing as a “natural salesperson.” Selling is a collection of skills that we all develop. The best way to maximize your success at sales is to attune yourself to the customer. Sharing the customer’s perspective and trying to understand their feelings both gains trust and results in a better deal for the seller. Even mimicking a customer’s body language and tone — done subtly — can improve sales.
Ambiverts take all.
The notion that only extroverts make great salesmen is scientifically untrue. A study of nearly 4,000 salespeople found that those who fell exactly in the middle of the spectrum sold the most. These “ambiverts” win out over both extroverts and introverts because they possess the perfect mix of confidence and humility.
Flexible optimism is the key to success.
Being optimistic isn’t just about wearing rose-colored glasses, it’s about seeing setbacks as temporary. Disappointments are inevitable, but getting hung up on failures, or viewing them as indicative of some internal defect or universal unfairness can result in depression and poor performance. In fact, researchers found that optimism can boost sales results by a whopping 37 percent. One way to build your optimism is by using interrogative self-talk, or asking yourself if you can achieve something (and then using your answers as motivation).
The right framework is everything.
Framing sales by number of choices, putting negative adjectives after positive ones and even calling something “up and coming” rather than “the best” all increase sales. Labels are so important that one 1975 study found that simply telling a classroom of grade school children they were the neatest significantly decreased their amount of litter.
Pitching depends on the catcher and the pitcher equally.
The success of a pitch relies on the ability of the “pitcher” to make the “catcher” (a.k.a. your current or prospective employer/investor) feel like a collaborator in the idea. A pitch that rhymes or can be synthesized into one word has a better chance of sticking because it’s simply easier for the brain to process.
Service is human.
The idea that humans are only motivated by self-interest is, like the idea that extroverts are better salespeople, also just a myth. Adding an element of social good to a task can increase its results and provide the purpose behind the sale. Instead of just trying to “up-sell” a product, think about how you can “up-serve.”