Saturday, February 8, 2014

Moving Others: Reviewing Dan Pinks "To Sell Is Human"

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Daniel Pink's now not so new book "To Sell is Human, The Amazing Truth about What Motivates Others" connected with when I first read it in early 2013 with it's ideas reverberating with me everyday since.  I'm serious. Reading it confirmed something I knew intuitively, that "we are all in sales" and that selling isn't a dirty word, rather a reflection of basic human activity we do each and every day. 

      Pink shares how day in and day out we spend "40% of our jobs seeking to persuade others to act, choose, decide, select an idea, in some way to behave a certain way to achieve a desired outcome"  As Pink says, this is called "Non-sales selling". This behavior is basic to our existence. We all do it. Reading this rang true to me as a sole-proprietor architect and business person. 
      Everyday I seek to move people in my work, engaging in non sales selling and yes sometimes selling, and what better way to improve I found is reading Pink's book and acting on the ideas and research he shares.  Whether you realize it or not, everytime you post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and the like you sell yourself, your ideas, the things you find interesting.  
      You can continue doing so without clarity or understanding of this basic fact or recognizing you do it harness the aha moment and put it to good use. As Pink says, "It turns out that we are all natural salespeople. Each of us- because we're human--has a selling instinct, which means that anyone can master the basics of moving others." He goes on to say how the traditional catch phrase ABC, "Always be Closing" no longer applies, rather could be replaced with a new ABC, "Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity." 
      Attunement is fascinating to me for a number of reasons. Pink says "Attunement  is the ability to blend one's actions and outlook into harmony with other people." He believes you increase your power by intentionally reducing it, beginning each new encounter or interaction believing you are in a position of lower power or authority. Doing so helps you empathize with the other's viewpoint.  You walk in their shoes, understand their perspective better.
      Attunement is strengthened "by using your head as much as your heart - Top Sales people have strong emotional intelligence but they don't let their emotional connection sweep them away." You need to connect and empathize with your coworkers but not get sucked in too far, finding a balance and objectivity.
      A very direct way to explain attunement which I continue using daily is mimicking others in a self-aware, observant, respectful way.  Pink goes on to share many examples of this but for me I explain this as keenly observing those around you, picking up cues from them about how they're interacting with you and blending with them by interacting similarly rather than in sharp jarring contrast to them.  This blending translates to figures of speech, body movement and position, energy level together and more.

      A good example is your boss comes in to your workstation, standing up and you're sitting down.  Do you stay sitting down not physically engaging but turn to them, looking up? Or do you stand up too, turn towards them and engage more directly one to one with your body and eyes? Standing up  and looking at them comfortably evens everything out establishing a connection increasing the potential value of the exchange.  Your boss starts speaking, she uses some kind of jargon to explain something.  Instead of describing the same thing with different jargon, use the same jargon helping you and she to be on the same "page" etc.  The standing, eye contact and the jargon are both great examples of attunement and blending. Using them will help you find greater success I say. 
      Buoyancy from Pink's viewpoint "is the quality combining the grittiness of spirit and sunniness of outlook.  To be buoyant means to apply three strategies before, during and after any effort to move others." Before you seek to move others do some "Interrogative self-talk".  This means rather than making mere statements ask yourself rather "Can we go to the moon?" It places you in a much more open frame and questioning frame of mind.  This signals to others you are open to new possibilities rather than weighed down by command and control preconceptions.
       During the encounter enhance your positivity and energy, rather than mute or self-censor it. This means merely projecting positivity rather than passivity or negativity in the encounter.  Think about, if you're going to have a hard conversation with someone and know you need to get a result of some kind or change in behavior, going into it with a positive frame of mind and optimism is infectious rather it's opposite of negative toxicity.
      After the encounter of moving others, Pink suggests you adopt an "Optimistic Explanatory Style" after your experience to help you process the interaction.  Doing so helps you stay positive regardless of the outcome.  This leads right into the final quality, "Clarity"
      According to Pink it is crucial to foster a sense of "Clarity" in any situation, especially if it is murky, confusing or complicated.  Adopting this attitude helps you see the bigger picture of a situation, seeing things truthfully as they are rather than you wish them to be.  
      To me seeking clarity means really identifying the real motivations behind others you seek to move.  Why are they here in the room with you?  What are their goals?  What would success be for them in this situation?  If you don't know, ask them or ask others before hand, do advance research on your own to get a better handle on their motivations, their backstory.  
      So you have the new ABC's according to Pink, AttunementBuoyancy and Clarity.  Try them out over the next couple of weeks.  Doing so produces are far more positive mindset than the old "ABC" bound by omnipresent anxiety of over-zealous in your face selling behavior.  Personally, the new ABC touted by Pink better suits my interaction style.  It might suit you too!
      Pink closes his book with a call to "Improvise and Serve".  To him learning to improvise can radically increase your ability to move others....(as you) train your ears to hear offers (even if they're not explicit), if you respond to others with "Yes and," and you if you always try to make your counterpart look (and feel) good, (new) possibilities emerge."  To me I see this as learn how to listen well in conversation with others, as golden opportunities emerge you would never expect if only you listen deeply and pay attention with humility, empathy and respect.
      Serving others is what sales and non-sales selling are all about Pink says. And, if you keep two key principles in mind he say and I whole heartedly agree, "make it personal and purposeful", with personal authenticity and integrity you will build trust and connection.  Thus you will move others.  Pink's "To Sell is Human" moves me.  Does it move you?  Do you have any examples?  

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