To Sell Is Human | Book Review

Book of the Year.

“the ability to move people now depends on power’s inverse: understanding another person’s perspective, getting inside his head, and seeing the world through his eyes”

from page 72 summarizes Daniel Pink’s recent book. This is the same author with the powerful & quirky motivational video based on the book Drive – about the real sources of motivation. Do not let the title repel you, this book is written for people who don’t believe they sell, or don’t believe they can sell well. It is really a book about influence and leadership.


The first part of the book Rebirth of a Salesman persuasively argues we re-think classical definitions of sales; the second part How to Be updates the Always Be Closing (old ABC) model with Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity (new ABC model); and the third part, What to Do, contains the best chapter of the book – Pitch. Parts two and three finish with sample cases on pages 85, 115, 143 & 175, 199 and 223, respectively.

We Influence Today Rather than Sell

On pages 20 - 21, the concept of moving is introduced and Gallup findings:

People are now spending 40 percent of their time at work in non-sales selling – persuading, influencing, and convincing others in ways that don’t involve anyone making a purchase. Across a range of professions, we are devoting roughly twenty-four minutes of every hour to moving others.

People consider this aspect of their work crucial to their professional success – even in excess of the considerable amount of time they devote to it.

Finding the Right Problems to Solve

The essence of pages 128-132 – The quality of the problem that is found is a forerunner of the quality of the solution that is attained, or that the discovery and creation of problems rather than technical skill sets apart the more creative from others, is powerful. This is why building high-performance teams and reaching the performance stage is so vital today.

Pink cites survey findings that employers seek problem finders rather than problem solvers – likely reflecting our dynamic business environment and the desire for an empowered workplace.

Academy Leadership Parallels

The page 22-23 findings are analogous to Academy Leadership Category II activities (important, not urgent): After processing information, many adult full-time workers (37 percent devoting a significant time) are teaching, coaching, or instructing others. And also rated these activities more vital [emphasis added] than processing information. Organizations transformed by this process have “elasticity” (pp. 32-37) having “products people buy”  rather than “products people are sold,” and corresponding flatter, agile organizations focused on moving others.

The breakthrough CarMax success story (p. 60-62) underscores a communicating and information sharing centered business model for educated buyers (Energize2Lead™).


Read all of Chapter Seven (getting past the elevator pitch) – if nothing else in the book, and seriously consider each of the exercises in the Sample Case p. 175-183.

Link to Daniel Pink’s Motivational Video

Book of the Year.

JE | June 2013