Marketing and Sales. Yuck??

July 7, 2015 at 9:00 am

The word cloud is revealing. In his book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, Daniel H. Pink (of A Whole New Mind fame) asked the following question in a survey; “When you think of “sales” or “selling”, what’s the first word that comes to mind?”

Then he clustered the responses into a “word cloud”, to visually represent how often any given word was used by respondents. Of the 25 most offered words, only 5 had a positive connotation. All of the rest were negative. While “pushy” was the biggest word in the cloud, “yuck” showed up as the close second most offered response. Pink concludes, “Selling makes many of us uncomfortable and even a bit disgusted. . .in part because we believe that its practice revolves around duplicity, dissembling and double-dealing.”

So if this describes your reaction to marketing and sales, you are not alone. Not by a long shot!

And then we have the compelling title of his book. Pink proposes that in fact, we are all in sales – that’s right, ALL. He says most of us spend a significant amount of time in what he calls “non-sales selling – convincing or persuading people to give up something they value for something we have”; or perhaps to get on board with our cause or mission. And he advances some fascinating, fresh ideas.

Think the “ABC” of sales is “Always Be Closing”? Think again. . .

Pink suggests that the effectiveness of this long-standing sales advice is on its way out, because the conditions on which it depends are also waning. In another fabulous book called The Clue Train Manifesto: The End of Business As Usual, the authors (Levine, et al.) observe that the internet has changed everything. In the BIT (before internet time), a few people in sales and marketing positions had a lot of information (Pink describes this as “information asymmetry”). They also had a lot of power to leverage the information to get the rest of us to do – or buy – something.

However in the AIT (after internet time), information access is much more balanced. With the push of a button I can find out a lot about you, your business, company or product and I can compare it with others, read reviews, etc.; all without even making contact with you. (Therefore, you are going to have a harder time pulling the wool over my eyes, buddy!)

Pink says these “remapped conditions require revamped navigation”; and he introduces the new ABCs of moving others:




He writes: “These three qualities, which emerge from a rich trove of social science research, are the new requirements for effectively moving people on the remade landscape of the twenty-first century.”

Pink’s style is engaging and thought provoking; the book is full of tips (e.g. improvisation acting class), practices (including the “six successors of the elevator pitch and when to deploy them”), and excellent information / new perspectives (e.g. sales as service. Yes. Really.).

This book is a must read for anyone in sales (i.e. according to the author, pretty much everyone!). And especially if you are in the “yuck” area of that word cloud!!

Pick it up. (Even if it is not summer where you are right now!)

To Sell is Human imageTo Sell is Human:  The Surprising Truth About Moving Others





Clue Train Manifesto imageThe Clue Train Manifesto

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