My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When you think of the word 'sales', the first image that most likely pops into your mind is that of a sleazy used car salesman, attempting to convince you to overpay for a car that will break down soon after it leaves the dealership. While that view of sales may have had some truth to it in the 20th century, researcher and writer Daniel Pink sets out to convince us that this is no longer the case.
The former speech writer for Al Gore tells us that far from being a world of 'us and them', we are now in some shape or form all in sales: whether it's selling a product to a buyer the old-fashioned way, selling our skills to a potential employer or selling an idea to have it supported and funded. In fact, one could argue that from the moment the first human met another human (and perhaps even earlier than that), we have always been in sales. Indeed, Pink alludes to this very point:
"The ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives. The capacity to sell isn?t some unnatural adaptation to the merciless world of commerce. It is part of who we are."
He goes on to talk about a shift in the balance of power when it comes to information, a point which anyone in the traditional sales business would be wise to pay heed to:
"The balance has shifted. If you?re a buyer and you?ve got just as much information as the seller, along with the means to talk back, you?re no longer the only one who needs to be on notice. In a world of information parity, the new guiding principle is caveat venditor?seller beware."
Although he talks about "honesty, directness, and transparency" now being the more pragmatic long-term route, most of us who have caught others attempting to take advantage of us, will know that there are still plenty of ignorant and less noble sellers out there - something that Pink reminds us of:
"The decline of information asymmetry hasn?t ended all forms of lying, cheating, and other sleazebaggery."
Following his look at how so many more of us are involved in 'selling' today and how the world of sales has changed, he goes on to give advice on how we can be better sellers - the first step being to see "rejections as temporary rather than permanent, specific rather than universal, and external rather than personal."
"Anyone who sells?whether they?re trying to convince customers to make a purchase or colleagues to make a change?must contend with wave after wave of rebuffs, refusals, and repudiations."
He continues to cover the psychology of selling and a variety of techniques that can be used to help in this area. Some of the advice will no doubt be common sense for many, while other points will be more fresh and valuable.
"To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources?not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end."
Overall, the content is well researched, well written, informative and an enjoyable read, making it a book that just about everyone can take something useful away from. Above all, even for the most hardened sceptics, it reminds us that whether we'd like to believe it or not, most of us really are in the business of sales.
'To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others' by Daniel Pink is available for purchase here and from all good book shops.