Reading Daniel Pink’s new book To Sell is Human might change your mind. According to Pink, teachers, physicians, entrepreneurs and others are all in the business of selling. My only worry is that our conditioned aversion to the idea of sales will prevent more people from reading the book.
The book’s premise is that most of us are in sales if we spend a significant part of our time trying to persuade people to part with resources (whether money, time, behavior change or attention). It includes a wealth of insights and practices to be more persuasive. In his usual method, Pink backs everything up with interesting anecdotes and relevant research, so it’s a fun read as well.
Many of the techniques and recommendations are appropriate for one-on-one situations. As marketers, we sell to entire market segments rather than individuals – which is why using buyer personas can be helpful. But the fundamental principles of sales apply even when you’re talking to a market segment.
For example, Pink writes about ‘attunement’ being one of the first principles of sales success in today’s environment. Attunement means bringing your actions into harmony with your buyer’s perspective. This is a core idea behind content marketing.
He also discusses six successors to the elevator pitch – I plan to try them all. The question pitch highlights the power of questions when used correctly. And I can hardly wait to try writing a ‘Pixar’ pitch for one of my clients.
There’s a lot to gain from this book – both on a business and professional level. I will take some time to process and revisit it. In the mean time, I’d suggest you add it to your reading list for 2013.