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.