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summary_to_sell_is_humanDan Pink, a New York Times bestselling author, is one INBOUND 2015 keynote speaker that we at Denamico absolutely can’t wait to hear.cHis book To Sell Is Human (2012) is one of our team's favorites.

Are you getting ready for INBOUND 2015 but wishing you had more time to read the books by the keynotes? If so, we've got you covered. Here's a 5-minute summary of To Sell Is Human.

Dan Pink's To Sell is Human [5-Minute Summary]

Ch. 1: We’re All in Sales Now

In the last 10 years, the nature of sales has completely revolutionized. Now that consumers are empowered to research and purchase products online, door-to-door salespeople have all but vanished, and traditional sales practices are archaic.

But the number of people doing sales for a living isn’t shrinking - it’s growing.

One in nine workers (about 15 million people) in the USA are in sales, but Pink argues that the other eight in nine are also in sales of a different kind. Pink describes “non-sales selling” as influencing or motivating people in ways that don’t lead up to a purchase. Examples include physicians persuading patients to follow a remedy or lawyers convincing a jury of a verdict.

To prove his point, Pink commissioned a study that showed that people spend 40% of their time at work doing some kind of non-sales selling.

Ch. 2: Entrepreneurship, Elasticity, and Ed-Med

In chapter two, Pink digs deeper into why we’ve all ended up in sales. He says it’s related to new trends in the workforce.

Modern technologies like smartphones give us instant access to a worldwide storefront. That’s why entrepreneurship and startups are on the rise, along with sites like Etsy, Kickstarter, and eBay that empower innovators. And these entrepreneurs are responsible for their whole operation - including sales.

Large organizations are also changing. Workers now need to have elastic instead of fixed skills. Even engineers, ecologists, and executives are responsible for moving, persuading, and motivating others. And the fields of education and medicine (Ed-Med) are becoming increasingly about selling: teachers have to motivate their students, and doctors have to guide their patients to remedies.

Ch. 3: From Caveat Emptor to Caveat Venditor

These Latin phrases mean “buyer beware” and “seller beware.” In the old model of sales, the salesperson had all the knowledge about a product, and the customer could easily become a victim.

In the new world of sales, buyers have all the power. They can research products, read reviews, and if they get duped by a salesperson, they can easily warn away other potential customers by posting their experience online.

The role of salespeople has changed. No longer are they the primary source of information about a product. Instead, they serve as guides helping consumers navigate the wealth of information available.

Ch. 4: Attunement

The secret to successful sales in this day and age is attunement - understanding your buyer’s perspective.

Pink makes a clear distinction between understanding the buyer’s feelings and the buyer’s thoughts. Studies show that getting inside how someone thinks is the most effective way to motivate that person.

Ambiverts (people in the middle of the extroversion/introversion scale) are the best at sales because they are skilled at listening and getting inside the buyer’s head.

Ch. 5: Buoyancy

Successful sellers are also buoyant. Anyone trying out sales will hear “no” on a regular basis. You have to be able to handle rejection in order to survive. Pink offers three strategies for staying buoyant in the face of negativity.

  1. Practice interrogative self-talk, meaning ask yourself how you’re going to achieve your goals, instead of merely stating what they are.
  2. Be positive. People respond positively to positivity, so having a sunny outlook makes you better at motivating others.
  3. Stay optimistic about failures. Tell yourself that they are only temporary and caused by externals.

Ch. 6: Clarity

To be effective at motivating others, you need to be clear about how you want them to think, and you need to be specific about what action you want them to perform. It all comes down to how you frame your unique selling proposition.

Adding relatable comparisons, focusing on a product or person’s potential, and strategically mentioning negatives about the item you’re marketing can all add to its appeal. The key is to clarify your buyer’s motivation and speak to that.

Ch. 7: Pitch

The elevator pitch went out with the old model of sales. Now, pitches are about trying to start a conversation, instead of trying to get someone to immediately act on what you say.

Pink gives examples of six pitches that work in today's marketplace: the one-word pitch, the question pitch, the Twitter pitch, the rhyming pitch, the subject-line pitch, and the Pixar pitch. All of them are geared to helping you start a conversation that will ultimately motivate your listener.

Ch. 8: Improvise

Pink offers some surprising advice to those wishing to be better at motivating others: learn how to improvise. He says improvisation classes are actually great skill-builders for businesspeople.

They teach you how to listen, how to mimic, and how to make someone respond positively, all of which are relevant to sales and marketing.

Ch. 9: Serve

Serve first, sell later is the moral of the last chapter. If you want to move others, you should start by trying to help them. Pink says two questions should dictate how you sell:

  1. Will the buyer’s life improve?

  2. Will the world be a better place?

Answering “yes” to both is what “servant sellers” do. Caring about others and helping them solve their problems and achieve their goals is what great selling looks like.

A Great Read for Everyone

To Sell Is Human is not just for sales or business people - it’s for anyone wanting to become more effective at persuading others. And because non-sales selling is a large part of what most of us do everyday, this book can help a wide range of people achieve their goals.

What are you looking forward to about Inbound 2015? Let us know in the comments section. See you there!

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