IS TO SELL REALLY HUMAN. NEW TECHNIQUES ON HOW TO CLOSE A DEAL.
To Sell Is Human
To sell is human is a best seller by an American author Daniel Pink.The reason for choosing it was that I kept on hearing good stuff about both the book and the writer, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to finally get my hands on itand learn the new and revolutionary aspects of selling.
To be honest, I was not impressed with the book at the beginning at all. The style and the manner of delivering the information was pretty boring. It was making me lose interest and motivation for continuing. Nevertheless, I kept on reading with the hope of getting something new and useful. After barely surviving the story about an old man selling cleaning brushes for almost forty years, the avalanche of words started to finally transform into a surprisingly significant message: no matter who you are or what you are doing, you are most likely in sales too. However, the significance of it I understood later. My first natural reaction to the statement was an eye-roll, as there is nothing I hate more, than people making something a greater deal than it actually is. But then, the author started throwing statistics followed by indestructible facts at me, until I felt absolutely disarmed and had to surrender by giving the book a chance. Still being unforgivably biased, I decided to do the same thing that had inspired Daniel Pink to start writing this very book – look back on how I spent my time. I was so ready to prove the guy wrong, because it was clear to me that a full-time student young girl cannot be linked to sales in any imaginable way. Well, instead, I found myself totally confused – not only the author made me think that I am in fact a salesperson, because I discovered quite a number of matches between what people do in sales and what I do, but the product I’m selling is me.
I shall admit, this discovery was unpleasantly surprising, as I had always thought of sales as something that involved trying to get financial profit at all costs, therefore selling seemed dishonest and slimy, often annoying. So, am I being dishonest and slimy, often annoying? Doesn’t the perception of the world as a one huge shopping mall cheapen it and make existence pointless in the end? The author probably foresaw readers asking this question, because he immediately provides the answer – this perception is completely outdated: sales nowadays usually don’t involve a purchase, but a movement. Pink refers to the phenomenon as “non-sales selling” and describes the term as the ability to influence, persuade, and change behavior, while striking a balance between what others want and what you can provide. It is something that make people part with their non-financial resources, such as time, attention, and effort to make a move, to create a change. You neither take something away from someone nor steal, but obtain a healthy, mutually beneficial result. Nevertheless, one drastic difference I still cannot avoid is that sales are often easily measured – either you get the money or you don’t, while moving others is subtle, a change cannot usually be seen immediately, it is almost impossible to analyze or describe. Do we spend most of our time making some kind of impact on others – yes, can this process be referred to as selling, even if the adjective “non-sales” is used – not that I think so.
As far as the out-of-date notion of sales goes, it is such an easy concept to understand, that the art of deal-making would evolve with the advancing of the global economy, digitalization and the explosion of the widespread internet connectivity. However, I saw salesmen as evil creatures, who tried to persuade me into spending money on something useless, and, according to the writer’s research, I wasn’t the only one. But it ironically enough happened to be Dan Pink who made me try to look on selling from a different point of view. I realized that today’s world is too transparent to sell through manipulation. Successful salesperson should not doubt the quality and credibility of the selling piece. He just cannot embellish the product, as he is not the source of information anymore, because we live in the era of informational parity, rather than informational asymmetry. And it is obvious that a new epoch calls for new techniques, requires something more than a suit and tie, demands to take psychological approach. Rather than irritate people, salesperson need to learn how to instead agitate them, and challenge to do something those people want to do themselves. To be able to do that, seller must understand other people’s perspective, know how to get inside of their head and see the world through their eyes, and it requires a delicate balance between inspecting and responding, as well as admitting that it is the customer who has the power. It is necessary for salespeople to possess such features that enable them to have positive approach, communicate accessibly and know how to outline the initial problem, before finding the solution. In other words, they need to master the art of attunement, buoyancy and clarity.
This is the image of a 21stcentury’s salesperson and sales in general I build up in my head after reading the book. But I don’t think I’ve ever met somebody who matches this description perfectly, nor experienced sales that were conducted this way. It may be so due to my inexperience, or because it’s generally easier said than done. We all know the right way, but do we always follow it? For example, in my opinion the line between attunement and lying is so blurry, that the realization of crossing it comes long after doing so. My point is that it takes infinite amount of work and self-control in order for selling to be human, so, despite the efficiency of it, still a number people choose the easier, more slimy way.
To conclude with, this book made me question my, the outdated one, perception of salesperson for the first time in my life and contemplate why the need for them has not abated after all these years. In this way, the book was kind of revolutionary for me. Although I don’t think I will reread it in the near future, I definitely will be more approachable and attentive when salesman comes up to me next time.