Upselling Sales: To Sell is Human

Readers beware: I haven’t yet read the book, To Sell is Human.  My comments are based on a talk given by the author, Daniel Pink, at an Author Event at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

While I will certainly read the book, I came away from the event a bit disappointed in Pink’s latest effort to apply fresh thinking to the pedestrian concept of “selling.”   His thesis is that while 1 in 9 full-time workers is engaged in selling, the other 8 are also influencing and persuading others in their commercial and personal interactions.  He claims that while business schools teach the elements of commerce, few teach how to be more effective in sales.  While I totally subscribe to the need to embrace and elevate our “sales-selves,” my initial response is that Pink has engaged in a bit of publication “up-selling” to promote his views.  In his previous work (A Whole New Mind and Drive), Pink has made abstract concepts more accessible; I fear that in To Sell is Human, he has made a simple concept unnecessarily complex.

Pink spoke about the need to apply a “servant selling” perspective that increases the power of the seller by reducing it.  He suggests that prospective buyers no longer rely on sellers for information; instead, there is “information parity” in the relationship between buyer and seller. To be effective, the seller must be a more active communicator (an “ambivert”), pitching with questions, listening to offers made by the buyer, and ultimately, exchanging products or services that make life better.

I’m sure the book will offer engaging interviews, surveys, and anecdotes to flesh-out the somewhat contrived-sounding lists of personal qualities, skills, rules that Pink laid-out in his Free Library talk.  Perhaps my enthusiasm for the book was dampened by the nature of the interaction, which was a bit too traditional in its approach to promoting Pink’s reconstructed views of economic behavior.  I challenge the author to apply his new paradigm of effective selling to the conventional “meet the author” and “book-signing” event.

Daniel Pink’s book tour: To Sell is Human

Looking forward to attending Daniel Pink’s lecture @ the Free Library of Philadelphia on Tuesday, 1/22 @7:30pm: brave the cold and join me!

While I’m loathe to think of myself as a “groupie,” I have really been inspired by the perspective Pink has taken to the way we can understand our place in the economic world (A Whole New Mind); also, how we can understand what motivates us (Drive).

This book promises to offer some interesting perspective on a belief I’ve held for a long time: we are all selling something. A good friend, a pharmacist by profession, talked about this years ago as our children were beginning to find their places in the world of work.  Teachers are selling knowledge and thinking; mechanics are selling parts and fixes; mathematicians are selling equations and solutions… There is no shame in being a great seller; indeed, selling one’s value proposition is what career acceleration is all about.

While I like to think of myself as a service provider, I am clearly selling an approach to life and work.  If you can’t join me tomorrow, I hope you’ll read and comment on what I share on this site and on my new FB page: <>  I hope to be relevant and not redundant: your active participation will help me meet my challenge!


Back to School/Work, inspired by Mike Rose, Daniel Pink

Was inspired by Krista Tippett’s “On Being” interview with UCLA education professor & educational philosopher, Mike Rose.  The conversation celebrated the authentic integration of learning and work by honoring those whose work seems pedestrian – the waitress, the plumber, the mechanic.  Rose raises the banner for those whose work reflects their intelligence and ability to achieve tangible outcomes, without the benefit of certifications or degrees.  At the same time,  Rose is an advocate for  teachers and educational institutions that  integrate these learners into academia; for authenticating and adding value to “the academy” through the contribution of these workers/students.

I see some elegant connections between this approach to experiential learning and Daniel Pink’s explanation of what drives people, e.g., autonomy, mastery, and purpose (elements of Pink’s Operating System 3.0).  IMO, those seeking meaningful work can find some useful support and direction in  the work of these thinkers/writers/bloggers.  Check-out the APM interview with Mike Rose; the TED talk with Daniel Pink; embrace this thinking as you return to find meaning at school and work…


Apply Pink to Talent Acquisition, Career Transition, & Access to Education

I’m still working through my response to A Whole New Mind… and Drive… Now I’m challenging myself (and you) to apply the “new Operating System” to the field of talent acquisition, career transition,  and student success.  Pink claims that Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose are the basic elements of our new “Conceptual Age.” He indisputably demonstrates that these elements have displaced the traditional concept of rewards and punishment as motivation for solving all but the most routine problems.  I want to dig deeper; I want to think and discuss how these three elements can be applied to the dilemma facing individuals who wish to navigate the world of  employment, higher education, and entrepreneurship.  From where I sit and work, I see a disconnect between our 21st-C. workforce, which is creating the Conceptual Age, and the processes that govern recruitment, transition, and access to education.  I think the latter are stuck in the Industrial or the Information Age. How can we integrate the gatekeeping process with the Conceptual Age?

While I want to be an advocate for Pink’s “Operating System 3.0,” it has been my experience that few of those charged with admissions or recruitment actually seek-out those who admit to a preference for autonomy vs. teamwork; those who prize mastery over multiple task management; those who are purpose-driven vs. driven toward tangible outcomes. Is there a disconnect  between what science knows about human behavior and the talent acquisition process that is embraced by colleges, universities, and 21st-C. employers?  Do “fancy pants” consulting firms talk the talk of innovation while actually promoting more of the same management systems, supported by traditional incentives?

Can you chime-in with some thoughts about how Operating System 3.0 can become an engine of a more mindful transition process?  I’ll be coming back to this from time to time; your comments and ideas are what will make this discussion “pop.”

Confessions of a customer evangelist: promoting Kawasaki

It is amazing to find that sometimes, you have been ahead of the curve and didn’t know it. I worked in a neighborhood bookstore as part of my "portfolio career" (a.k.a.,lots of jobs; little money) in 2002-2003. I was going to graduate school full-time and making the break from corporate life to consultancy. One of the benefits of my $8/hour job was access to pre-release copies of books. I was the only one in the shop that gravitated to the business books, and by now you know that I’m going to tell you that Creating Customer Evangelists… was one of the treasures I found. I recommended it several times, and even loaned it to someone who probably didn’t "get-it," ‘cuz I need to buy another copy after sending the link to a client!

Truth be told, I’m not comfortable with the "good news" connotation of customer evangelism, but the idea that clients are likely to enthusiastically promote my services if I make it easy for them to do so is almost a "no, duh."  I incorporated the term, "buzz," into my vocabulary; I even had to define and defend it in a presentation at Temple University. My sense of urgency about this now stems from yesterday’s global summit honoring "The Brand Called You," the 1997 Fast Company article that I’ve been sending to prospective clients for several years. To kick-off the 12-hour teleseminar (it was recorded, so look for it online), Guy Kawasaki facilitated an excellent session, "Evangelizing Evangelists to Build a Business and Build Your Brand."

Few business books stay with you the way this one has for me. This book’s authors are Ben McDonnell and Jackie Huba; Kawasaki wrote the forward and introduces the book’s discussion of customer evangelism and viral marketing through engaging case studies (no dull Harvard Business School  curriculum for you). I recall the one about Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks, and will have to wait to get another copy of the book to remember the rest. Okay, so I guess I am sharing "the good news" after all.  Buy the book; tell ‘em Karen sent you!

(As a cyclist, I had to add the picture of "Bike Friday," one of the products that has been successfully marketed through customer evangelism – not sold through retail bike shops!)    Bike_friday_customer_evangelism_2_3

Author comes to BCCC-Women’s History Month

Bucks County Community College is hosting author Carolyn See on Friday, March 9, 2007 – Library Auditorium, 8pm, FREE. 

Sponsored by the community college’s Women’s Center, the author appears as part of National Women’s History Month.

Ms. See will read from her recently published novel, There Will Never Be Another You, which links the personal tragedy of a husband’s death with the implosion of the Twin Towers on 9/11. 

The book was published in May 2006, and has earned accolades from many sources, including Oprah Winfrey and fellow authors. Joan Didion , author of several books dealing with the response to public events, called See’s work, “a book about things falling apart that turns out to be a day at the beach…Pure joy.” 

While See does not describe herself as a women’s author, she writes about how love, relationships, and careers intersect with the events that swirl around us.  From the Greeks and Romans to Shakespeare to John Steinbeck, literature has used signs of outward calamity as a device to portend tragedy for characters. 

As human beings, our level of sensitivity to the world around us varies. At the risk of engaging in gender bias, I agree with those who believe that women are more sensitive to the clash of emotions we experience on a daily basis. Human stories about natural disasters, wars, and genocide make our focus on colleagues, pay, and traffic seem petty and self-centered. 

Certainly we need to put our lives in perspective, and Carolyn See draws on her own experience to help her readers do that.  Join me in an evening that promises to be engaging and enlightening.

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