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To Sell Is Human

To Sell Is Human

Daniel H. Pink



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Selling In the 21st Century: The Three Lessons

Selling In the 21st Century: The Three Lessons

  • Almost half of your time at work is spent in non-sales selling, which is really just trying to move others.
  • Honesty and service are taking over sales, because the internet has closed the information gap.
  • Use “Yes, and…” when talking to customers to make sure they stay positive and engaged.


3.3K reads

You Are In Sales Already

40% of your time at work is spent in non-sales selling, which simply means moving others somehow. For example, this could mean persuading them to help you with a project, convincing them of your idea, or influencing them to get on board with a particular strategy.

No matter what your job is – yes, you’re a salesperson!


2.08K reads

Honesty And Good Service

In 2016 and beyond, the only way to sell is to be honest and transparent.

To sell is no longer to guard information and hand out little pieces – it’s a service, helping people to navigate the wealth of information, explain it to them, and getting them to make the best decision, the one that’s right for them at the specific time.


1.56K reads

Say Yes, Not No

In improv theatre it’s really important to keep the audience in a good mood, they have to stay optimistic at all times and not feel discouraged. Customers during a sales pitch are the same way. If they feel affronted or like you’re talking down to them, they surely won’t buy from you.

But every time you let on you’re disagreeing with them, it signals to them that you’re claiming you’re smarter. So instead of using words like “no” or “but”, agree with their ideas and add to them and then improve and improvise how you can further move the conversation along.


1.26K reads

To Sell Is Crucial For Our Survival

  • The ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness.
  • The most effective salespeople are ambiverts, those who fall somewhere in the middle of the introversion-extraversion scale.
  • The most effective self-talk doesn’t merely shift emotions. It shifts linguistic categories. It moves from making statements to asking questions.
  • Anytime you’re tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you’re doing and upserve instead. Don’t try to increase what they can do for you. Elevate what you can do for them.


1.07K reads

Mimicing The Person

  • Watch. Observe what the other person is doing.
  • Wait. Once you’ve observed, don’t spring immediately into action. Don’t do this too many times, though.
  • Wane. After you’ve mimicked a little, try to be less conscious of what you’re doing.
  • Attuning yourself to others—exiting your own perspective and entering theirs—is essential to moving others.


1.12K reads

Interrogative Self-Talk

The most effective self-talk doesn’t merely shift emotions. It shifts linguistic categories. It moves from making statements to asking questions”.

On average, the self-questioning group solved nearly 50 percent more puzzles than the self-affirming group.

Interrogative self-talk, by its very form, elicits answers—and within those answers are strategies for actually carrying out the task.

Researchers say interrogative self-talk may inspire thoughts about autonomous or intrinsically motivated reasons to pursue a goal.


886 reads

Optimism And Pessimism

Agents who scored in the optimistic half of explanatory style sold 37% more insurance than agents scoring in the pessimistic half. Agents in the top decile sold 88% more insurance than those in the bottom decile.

The salespeople with an optimistic explanatory style—who saw rejections as temporary rather than permanent, specific rather than universal, and external rather than personal—sold more insurance and survived in their jobs much longer.


766 reads

Three Questions

When something bad occurs, ask yourself three questions—and come up with an intelligent way to answer each one “no”:

  • Is this permanent?
  • Is this pervasive?
  • Is this personal?

The more you explain bad events as temporary, specific, and external, the more likely you are to persist even in the face of adversity.


794 reads

Enumerate and Embrace

Enumerate. Try actually counting the numbers you get during a week. By the end of the week, you might be surprised by just how many nos the world has delivered to your doorstep. However, you might be more surprised by something else: You’re still around. Even in that weeklong ocean of rejection, you’ve still managed to stay afloat. That realization can give you the will to continue and the confidence to do even better the following week.

Embrace. Say out loud: I got all these rejections but kept going.


606 reads

Handling Rejection

Present yourself with a series of ‘What ifs?’ What if everything goes wrong? What if the unthinkable happens? What if this is the worst decision of my life? These questions could prompt answers you didn’t expect, which might calm you down and even lift you up.

One way to reduce their sting [of rejection], and perhaps even avoid one altogether, is to preempt the rejecter by writing [a rejection] letter yourself.

Once the rejection is in writing, its consequences can seem far less dire.

The letter might reveal soft spots in what you’re presenting, which you can then work to strengthen.


524 reads

The Present Bias

Our biases point us toward the present. So when given a choice between an immediate reward (say, $1,000 right now) and a reward we have to wait for ($1,150 in two years), we’ll often take the former even when it’s in our own interest to choose the latter.


611 reads

Your Future Self

Envisioning ourselves far into the future is extremely difficult—so difficult, in fact, that we often think of that future self as an entirely different person.

This conceptual shift demonstrates the third quality necessary in moving others today: 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.


519 reads

Less Is More: The Problem With Too Much Choice

Of the consumers who visited the supermarket booth with twenty-four varieties of jam, only 3 percent bought any. At the booth with a more limited selection, 30 percent made a purchase”.

Adding an inexpensive item to a product offering can lead to a decline in consumers’ willingness to pay.

Framing people’s options in a way that restricts their choices can help them see those choices more clearly instead of overwhelming them with more.


479 reads

Buying An Experience

  • Several researchers have shown that people derive much greater satisfaction from purchasing experiences than they do from purchasing goods.
  • Even when people ponder their future purchases, they expect that experiences will leave them more satisfied than physical goods.
  • Framing a sale in experiential terms is more likely to lead to satisfied customers and repeat business.


480 reads

The Blemishing Effect

Adding a minor negative detail in an otherwise positive description of a target can give that description a more positive impact.

The blemishing effect seems to operate only under two circumstances.

First, the people processing the information must be in what the researchers call a ‘low effort’ state. That is, instead of focusing resolutely on the decision, they’re proceeding with a little less effort—perhaps because they’re busy or distracted.

Second, the negative information must follow the positive information, not the reverse. Once again, the comparison creates clarity.


474 reads

The Potential Gain: Banking On Uncertainty

People often find potential more interesting than accomplishment because it’s more uncertain.

When you’re selling yourself, don’t fixate only on what you achieved yesterday. Also, emphasize the promise of what you could accomplish tomorrow.


516 reads

The Off-Ramp Push

Once you’ve found the problem and the proper frame, you have one more step. You need to give people an off-ramp push, a specific request accompanied by a clear way to get it done.

Clarity on how to think without clarity on how to act can leave people unmoved.


449 reads

The Curation Process

Seek. Once you’ve defined the area in which you’d like to curate, put together a list of the best sources of information. Then set aside time to scan those sources regularly.

Sense. Creating meaning out of the material you’ve assembled. Make an annotated list of Web links or regularly maintain a blog. Tend to this list of resources every day.

Share. You can do this through a regular e-mail or your own newsletter, or by using Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. As you share, you’ll help others see their own situations in a new light and possibly reveal hidden problems that you can solve


373 reads

Successors to the Elevator Pitch

The One-Word Pitch

The ultimate pitch for an era of short attention spans begins with a single word—and doesn’t go any further.

The Question

By making people work just a little harder, question pitches prompt people to come up with their own reasons for agreeing (or not). And when people summon their own reasons for believing something, they endorse the belief more strongly and become more likely to act on it.


387 reads

Make It Rhyme

If you’re one of a series of freelancers invited to make a presentation before a big potential client, including a rhyme can enhance the processing fluency of your listeners, allowing your message to stick in their minds when they compare you and your competitors.


409 reads

Pitching By The Subject Line

  • The researchers discovered that participants based their decisions on two factors: utility and curiosity.
  • People were quite likely to “read emails that directly affected their work”. But they were also likely “to open messages when they had moderate levels of uncertainty about the contents, i.e. they were ‘curious’ what the messages were about.
  • Utility worked better when recipients had lots of e-mail, but ‘curiosity [drove] attention to email under conditions of low demand.
  • Along with utility and curiosity is a third principle: specificity.


368 reads

The Pixar Pitch

After someone hears your pitch, ask yourself:

  • What do you want them to know?
  • What do you want them to feel?
  • What do you want them to do?


535 reads

Rules Of Improvisational Theater In Sales

Hear Offers

Once we listen in this new, more intimate way, we begin hearing things we might have missed. And if we listen this way during our efforts to move others, we quickly realize that what seem outwardly like objections are often offers in disguise.

Say “Yes and”

Instead of swirling downward into frustration, ‘Yes and’ spirals upward toward possibility. When you stop you’ve got a set of options, not a sense of futility.

Make Your Partner Look Good

Today, if you make people look bad, they can tell the world. But if you make people look good, they can also tell the world.


344 reads

Real Sales Is Service: Upserving Others

  • This is what it means to serve: improving another’s life and, in turn, improving the world.
  • Do your customers, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?
  • If the person you’re selling to agrees to buy, will his or her life improve? When your interaction is over, will the world be a better place than when you began?
  • Anytime you’re tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you’re doing and upserve instead. Don’t try to increase what they can do for you. Elevate what you can do for them.


385 reads



Diplomatic Services operational officer

To Sell Is Human shows you that selling is part of your life, no matter what you do, and what a successful salesperson looks like in the 21st century, with practical ideas to help you convince others in a more honest, natural and sustainable way.


To Sell Is Human

To Sell Is Human

Daniel H. Pink



When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Daniel H. Pink



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