According to Daniel Pink in his bestselling book “To Sell Is Human” we are all in sales. He makes his argument succinctly and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is unlike any of the other sales books you might have come across.

Part 1 of the book talks about how we are all in sales now

Sales has always had a negative connotation and words like Pushy are always associated with it. However if we understand that sales means the ability to move others then we are all in sales. According to the statistics 1 in 9 people are in sales (he says he now believes the other 8 are also in sales since everyone is trying to influence everyone else). From the time we wake up to the time we retire for the day we are constantly trying to move others to part with their resources. So we need to have the tools to sell well in this new economy. 

The earlier ABC’s of selling were Always be Closing. The new ABC’s of selling are Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. In a bygone era it was Caveat Emptor(buyer beware) as sellers had more information and were better informed but now it is Caveat Venditor which is seller beware as buyers have so much information and the internet has made it a level playing field. What the new economy requires is something the author calls non sales selling which is moving others without them knowing they are moved. 

Part 2 dives deeper into the new ABC’s of selling

Attunement: This is the ability to see others point of view. Empathy is the key to moving others. It goes without saying that the only way to move someone else is to make them want to do what you want them to do. Create a compelling reason for the other person to part with their resources or time. One method to attune successfully is to mimic strategically. Don’t make it obvious, giving a 10 sec pause but mimic your prospects actions and body language. 

Buoyancy: This is the ability to bounce back despite an ocean of rejection. The author gives the Bob the Builder as an example and the question you should ask before any important presentation or interaction is “Will I be able to do this”. Become better in interrogatory self-talk. He says this question is more important than pumping yourself too much by always saying I can do it. Salespeople who had an optimistic explanatory style in other words seeing rejection as temporary not permanent achieve more success in the long run. 

Clarity: Being clear is an absolute requirement for sales success. Unless you are clear on your offers and the decisions your target audience need to take you can’t achieve success. Earlier problem solving was the key but the current requirement is for you to be a great problem identifier. Curation is a more important skill considering the vast amount of information at our disposal. Asking questions has always been an important skill to possess. Clarity on how to think without information on how to act will leave people unmoved. 

Part 3 of the book focuses on how to do the above 

Pitch: The author argues that the elevator pitch is for an earlier era when we could only bump into the CEO or boss in the elevator. However now we can walk into our boss’s office anytime we want and we need new tools now to make our case compelling. Some of the examples provided are

  1. One word pitch: In the current times where attention spans are low we need to have one word which will move others. When someone says ‘search,’ you probably think of Google and when someone says ‘priceless,’ you might think of MasterCard.
  2. Pixar Pitch: This is an example from tinsel town. All the Pixar movies have the same narrative that is Once upon a time,,,.. Every day,. One day,… Because of that,.. Because of that, … until finally…Take for example the plot of Finding Nemo. Once upon a time there was … a widowed fish, named Marlin, who was extremely protective of his only son, Nemo. Every day … Marlin warned Nemo of the ocean’s dangers and implored him not to swim far away. One day … in an act of defiance, Nemo ignores his father’s warnings and swims into the open water. Because of that … he is captured by a diver and ends up in the fish tank of a dentist in Sydney. Because of that … Marlin sets off on a journey to recover Nemo, enlisting the help of other sea creatures along the way. Until finally … Marlin and Nemo find each other, reunite and learn that love depends on trust.
  3. Rhyming Pitch: An example provided is lawyer Johnnie Cochran’s famous remark to O.J. Simpson jurors in 1995: “If it doesn’t fit you must acquit.”
  4. Twitter Pitch: This is limiting your pitch to less than 140 characters. For example I read that the Steve Jobs pitch for an Apple product easily fits within 140 characters (iPod: “1,000 songs in your pocket.” MacBook Air: “The world’s thinnest notebook.”)


One of the methods provided is Yes and. which means instead of disagreeing with your prospect you can say yes to whatever is being said and then put your argument for consideration. Another strategy is Hear offers where he advises put yourself in others shoes to understand their viewpoint clearly.The final strategy is to make your partner look good which means try making sure both parties win.


Finally the author suggests asking the following two questions before any sale or interaction

  1. Will the person you are selling to be better off after your sale or interaction
  2. Will the world be a better place when your sale or interaction is over

Overall it was a thoroughly interesting read and had excellent strategies which can be implemented. Daniel Pink remains one of my favorite authors and lot of his work is based on research with practical suggestions. His other books which I like are A Whole New Mind, When and Drive.

Thanks for reading this post. The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.