Book Review: To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others By Daniel H. Pink

A #1 on the New York Times Business Bestseller list, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink explores the power of selling in our lives. Pink argues that in the modern post-recession economy, all of us are in sales. We sell our lifestyle, our choices, new ideas, parenting styles, teaching methods, etc. The workforce has changed and our sales techniques must evolve with it if we are to survive the global competitive market. Pink says, like it or not, no matter what your job title says, we are all in sales now.

With the rise of start-up companies and tech giants like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon changing the game of mass-selling, the sales industry is permanently disrupted. A traditional sales representative is no longer valued by the customer. Customers now have the opportunity to be extraordinarily selective about the products they buy, because they have the ability to do significantly more research about them.

Another disrupter is the influence of social media; if someone we trust endorses a product, we are more likely to buy it. Unlike in past times when a salesperson, typically a stranger with an agenda, tried to sell a product to a customer, modern customers are looking to trusted sources who are not connected to the product’s profits. If the Kardashians post a picture of tea, people go out and buy that brand of tea. Advertising on Google is another perfect example. When you go to research new winter boots, on every website you visit next, there will be an advertisement for different types of winter boots. Customers have changed their buying habits and so must the techniques of selling.

We as legal marketers and business development professionals cannot sell as Amazon or Google can. We simply do not have the capacity nor is it appropriate in the legal marketing and business development fields. Most of the selling we do in our roles is convincing our attorneys of our ideas. So how does Pink suggest we do that?

Pink suggests that sales is not something that people are born with, but rather a set of skills and traits that can be learned. The book provides practical solutions to make minor adjustments to persuade others of our value broken into two categories: “How to Be” and “What to Do.”

“How to Be” reveals the new ABCs of moving others (attunement, buoyancy and clarity). “What to Do” teaches methods of acting and reacting when in a sales situation, including how to use sales to make people’s lives easier. These tips and tricks seem so simple, but when put into action will shatter expectations and deliver real results. We are all salespeople, and we can all master the basics of moving others.

To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others offers a fresh look at the art and science of selling based upon social science. Not all of the arguments Pink makes are backed by convincing evidence, but the essence of convincing the reader that they are a salesperson, no matter their position, and the tips and tricks provided to teach us how to adapt to the new sales world are valuable tools to help us all succeed in our newfound salesperson roles.

By Hillary Hitt, Marketing Coordinator, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

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