To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink, Riverhead Books, 272 pages, $26.95, Hardcover, December 2012, ISBN 9781594487156
Dan Pink dedicates his new book, To Sell is Human, to booksellers. As one of those booksellers that Pink kindly acknowledges, I long ago embraced my seller-self. But what is most intriguing about this book is how Pink recasts “selling” to show us that we are sellers in every aspect of our lives, whether we are convincing the kids to do their homework before dinner, our friends to splurge on a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas, or our bosses to sign off on a work project. The book’s epigraph (opening quote) from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman sums it up nicely:
The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is, you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that.
In the first section of To Sell is Human, Pink provides the context:
The very technologies that were supposed to obliterate salespeople have lowered the barriers to entry for small entrepreneurs and turned more of us into sellers.
And, once Pink gets you on board with the idea that, regardless of your occupation, you are in sales, the second section of the book presents research on the psychological and sociological aspects of sales that can help put you in the right frame of mind. One of the greatest challenges of sales is learning to tolerate the high percentage of rejection, so you’ll “learn from a band of life insurance salespeople and some of the world’s premier social scientists what to do before, during, and after your sales encounters to remain afloat.” And finally, in the third section, Pink deals with the actionable nitty-gritty we all recognize sales to be: pitching, improvising, and serving.
Pink’s advice is doled out in digestible doses—brief sections, pithy paragraphs, amusing anecdotes—that make taking our sales medicine all the more tolerable. And for all its sales talk, To Sell is Human is a large-hearted book. Sales, he concludes, should do one or both of two things: improve a life, or improve the world. And I think our business book world is indeed improved by the addition of Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human.