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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Book Review Dan Pink’s To sell is human


Pink asks a profound question about the basis of selling:

“Who is doing who a favour?”

Is the Salesperson doing the Customer a favour,
by bringing much needed goods and service to the table?

Or, is the Customer doing the Salesperson a favour, by buying their goods and services?

After reading the book, I do not think it matters,
as this is not the Basis of Selling, anyway.

His final advice is: “Treat everyone like your Grandmother!” This is a loaded concept.



I would have just stuck to the Golden Rule:

  • One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. Or.
  • One should NOT treat others in ways that one would NOT like to be treated

The Golden Rule contains the essence of Selling, Selling is reciprocal,
and Selling and Buying are done together.

Selling is NOT something we do TO Buyers,
Selling is something we do WITH Buyers!

The nonsense themes in the book are:
  • Everybody sells. No they don’t!
    What he means is everybody TRY’s to influence or ATTEMPTS to persuade,
    and mostly we don’t do a very good job of it!
  • The “Fuller Brush” story is a red herring, it is not relevant.
    Door to door is “hawking”, always was, always will be.
    I speak from experience, something which Pink’s lack of shows throughout the book.
  • ABC never worked, Pink’s ABC will NOT work either. Selling is not about simple rules.

The end theme is the Salesperson’s Burden: “Leave the world a better place”, to sell is human.
This may be countered by another cliché to err is human


Pink does deliver some good, if not common, sense

  •  Improvisation. Although in the Behavioural Approach to Selling
    we have called it “Interactive Competence” for 4 decades.
    The ability of the salesperson to align their behaviour to their objective.

BUT, in Sales it is NOT about ACTING (improv),
it IS about INTER-ACTING, Inter Active Competence.

Selling is about what you DO, not WHO you are.

  • His writing on Greenleaf’s “Servant Leadership” should be encouraged for Sales Managers!


Although the book lists extensive references
and refers to “research” his conclusions are fundamentally speculative.

Pink ‘sows’ together a Patchwork to offer his ‘view’ of selling [or moving people]
from Brush Salesmen to pay rises.

There is no method, or system, just ideas and thoughts.

I read the book twice, firstly as an Evidence Based Sales Consultant,
then secondly through the eyes of a Sales Novice.

As a Sales Consultant, I would have score it as a Red 3/10
i.e. slightly more DYSFUNCTIONAL than FUNCTIONAL,
an experienced Sales person would be worse off after reading it.

However, as an ‘empty vessel’ I would have scored it as AMBER 6/10
because of the section on IMPROV.

This could be a solid base from which to learn Interactive Competence.

Dan Pink’s ‘To sell is Human’, would not be in my Top Ten,
but it is in the Sales Section in my Library.

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