To Sell Is Human: Summary

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To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H Pink

It’s something that courses through our veins. We do it for a purpose; we do it involuntarily. Every day each of us sells all kinds of stuff (thoughts, things, ideas) to others. Daniel Pink explains how in To Sell is Human.

We are all salespeople.

Don’t believe that?

Read on to find out why Daniel Pink thinks that “selling” is in our very nature.

Funny information leaked out astonishing facts – the author of “To Sell is Human” Daniel Pink Pinpoints Labor Statistics results in this book. 10% of U.S population is integrated into sales (take into consideration that these numbers are official – the unofficial stats are way higher). What encourages people to pursue the philosophy no one can say for certain. Perhaps it is in our genes. What worries him is that this number decreases over the years. GetNugget with its book summary acknowledges the power of e-commerce in today’s digital world. The sale businesses have a new shape, totally unpredictable one.

Pink refers to one big dilemma of which actually fall under the sales category. Making a sale is only one aspect of the entire process. Presenting the goods, influencing other people and ultimately convincing them to buy are also vital parts of the sales procedure.

Mysteriously named by the author “non-sales selling.” “To Sell is Human” is a book which indicates the importance of a sales nation. This book summary will embolden you to make the first steps towards rediscovering your “sales” identity.

First, let me introduce you to the author of To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. He believes that:

“The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaptation to the merciless world of commerce. It is part of who we are.”

Daniel H. Pink is a behavioral expert with a background in politics and economics (he was a chief speechwriter for then-Vice President Al Gore). 18 years ago he left all that behind, deciding to strike out on his own instead.


“Whether it’s selling’s traditional form or its non-sales variation, we’re all in sales now.”

Since then the business and technology environment has gained revolutionary insight from him. Five of his books (including To Sell is Human) have appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list. The praise his writings have received and the millions of volumes sold around the globe, along with his extremely popular TED Talk and his valued articles and lectures, all stand to prove Daniel Pink’s unique vision.

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Hope that got your attention! This is a man who knows what he’s talking about.

The main aim of To Sell is Human is to change everything you thought you knew about selling. Everything you thought you knew about it is being dismantled and rearranged in an unexpected manner. In the last 10 years, the art of selling has suffered some major changes, mostly due to the technology boom.

Pay attention: it hasn’t disappeared but changed. Pink sheds light on the art of selling in order to help you become more efficient in this new world. He goes to the very core of the implications of being a (successful) salesperson in the 21st century and has the research to back his statements up every step of the way.

The days of being “only” a salesperson are long gone, because:

“Whatever our profession, we deliver presentations to fellow employees and make pitches to new clients.”

To sell is human

Here are the key concepts of Daniel Pink’s book:

  • The non-sales selling is developing at a more rapid pace than traditional sales.
  • Entrepreneurship, elasticity, and Ed-Med are the keys to why “we’re all in sales now.”
  • Caveat venditor – the seller is accountable for its products/services – is the law these days.
  • The new ABCs of moving others are Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity.
  • When serving a client, you need to:
'Make it personal and make it purposeful.' @DanielPink Click To Tweet
  • In today’s digital world, the elevator pitch is useless.
  • Improvisation Theater develops a salesman’s persuasive potential.

To Sell is Human is comprised of three parts, each made up of three chapters. The 1st part reexamines the sales, by identifying the mutations made by the expansion of the Internet. Pink conducted a survey with the primary goal of unveiling the amount of time and energy a full-time employee is devoting to moving others. One of his findings revealed that:

“Across a range of professions, we are devoting roughly twenty-four minutes of every hour to moving others.”

More is discussed on the rise of entrepreneurship, Ed-Med (Education and health services), and elasticity among enterprises. Pink also depicts the road from caveat emptor to caveat venditor, with the assistance of compelling case studies. The 2nd part explains the most valuable qualities for an effective salesperson – the new ABCs: Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. At the end of each chapter tips, tests, and useful sample cases are presented. In the last chunk of Pink’s book the inner workings of how to pitch, improvise, and services are exposed.

To sell is human

As I wrote earlier, the elevator pitch is ineffective. Daniel Pink comes to the rescue by devising six potential replacements:

  1. The one-word pitch. Think of only one word that describes your brand, idea, or product. Nowadays people’s attention spans are very limited. Make your time count.
  2. The question pitch. Questions make people more prone to give you an answer. It’s a call to action. A statement can be taken passively, without any intention of involvement. Still, make sure to have a strong choice of words. We wouldn’t want to backfire, would we?
  3. The rhyming pitch. The secret is in our brain’s modus operandi. It processes rhymes fluidly, easily. Rhymes stick with us, even when we don’t want them to.
  4. The subject-line pitch. Some days you receive dozens of e-mails. What makes you open one? A great subject line. When composing your own follow these tips: utility, curiosity, and specificity.
  5. The Twitter pitch. It’s straightforward, succinct, and easy to respond to. In 140 characters or less you can capture the essence of your idea, making it more appealing to those who don’t want to spend countless hours in conferences. And they can respond at the click of a button.
  6. The Pixar pitch. Composed of 6 consecutive sentences, this is the one I find most appealing. Maybe because of the storytelling aspect of it, which helps us reconnect with our childhood bedtime stories: “Once upon a time… every day… one day… because of that… because of that… until finally…”.

To sell is human

Now let’s discover some of the theories of To Sell is Human, which can be applied in the field of moving others:

The three fundamental rules of Improvisation Theater are:

  1. Hear offers. You must put yourself in the shoes of the person in front of you to fully understand their point of view. The focus must be on them, not you.
  2. Say “Yes and.” It gives you possibilities and opportunities, a place to start. This way you are searching for a solution, not trying to demolish the whole idea by finding the plot holes.
  3. Make your partner look good. Always find mutual benefit. Go past the “I want the bigger piece of the cake” train of thought. It never ends well. Honest relationships bear more fruit in the long term than two ships passing in the night. And you know it.

The 3 key questions you need to respond to when you’re preparing the pitch:

“What do you want them to know?”

“How to learn what to do?”

“What do you want them to do?”

These are crucial in defining your objective and strategy.

Here we go. End of the line. It goes without saying that Daniel Pink’s book is revolutionary. There are a lot of surprises inside To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. I could mention the intriguing case studies, the endless endnotes (see what I did there?) full of information, and lots and lots of other things that make it such an excellent read.

Instead, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite nuggets, and allow you to read the rest for yourself:

 “Treat everyone as you’d treat your grandmother, but assume that Grandma has eighty thousand Twitter followers.”

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