For anyone who’s thought about switching jobs or careers in the last few years – at least enough to pick up a book about it – the name “Daniel Pink” might ring a bell.
The author of the New York Times’ best-selling Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink is back with his latest tome To Sell Is Human, out December 31.
There are a lot of authors in Pink’s niche: Seth Godin (Tribes), Hugh MacLeod (Ignore Everybody), Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project), they are the book industry’s equivalent of a “Brat Pack,” a number of authors spouting similar New-Age-lite messages that demonstrate how we can use the latest research in behavioral psychology to upgrade our lives and careers. They are the ones whose work we look to when we, frankly, want to pack up our battered briefcases along with our defeated selves and leave the office for greener pastures.
In To Sell Is Human, Pink tackles another branch of the social sciences: selling and persuasion. Part self-help, part social-science commentary, the book is compelling. Pink split the book in two parts, using the first section to argue that humans have always been in the business of selling – but “selling” doesn’t mean just peddling wares. We sell ourselves (job interviews, dates), our ideas and opinions. Pink sees society’s notions surrounding the “slimy salesperson” as out-of-touch, the result of years in which “asymmetrical information” prevailed, situations in which sellers had access to more information on their products than buyers did. (If you were buying a used car, think pre-CarMax, when only the dealer knew if he was selling you a lemon or a peach.)
In part two, Pink draws on a plethora of results from studies in the behavioral-psychology realm to explore presumed attributes of successful salespeople. (Surprise! The best salespeople aren’t extroverts or introverts. They’re ambiverts.) Techniques for selling are both detail-oriented (pitches that rhyme are good) and more conceptual in nature. Pink re-appropriates playwright David Mamet’s ABCs of selling to communicate a new strategy. Instead of “always be closing,” Pink proffers a less memorable but perhaps more effective acronym, “Attunement. Buoyancy. Clarity,” on which he expounds.
The Verdict: To Sell is Human strikes a chord because it works to debunk the stigma of “sales.” Selling and persuading, acts that seem self-serving but also unfortunately necessary, might actually be just two more ways human beings communicate and interact with one another. If done right, Pink says, the outcome can enrich both buyer and seller, and there just might be some art in the whole thing too.
Date released: December 31, 2012
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Author: Daniel Pink