12. March 2014 · Comments Off on To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink · Categories: Uncategorized


(Image Courtesy of Amazon.Com)

Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human offers practical advice for any workplace professional including librarians. I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a book discussion webinar where librarians discussed Pink’s work.

There are a number of concepts Pink writes about that are worth noting and were brought up in the book discussion.

1)      Attunement- What Pink calls bringing oneself into harmony with individuals, groups, and contexts. I enjoyed reading about the Ambivert Advantage. Ambiverts are neither extreme introverts or extraverts. Pinks argues that ambiverts are the best equipped to find a balance in the way that they interact with people. As Pink notes, “They know when to speak up and when to shut up.”


2)      Buoyancy- This enables one to keep their spirits during adversity and rejection. The use of interrogative self-talk is important here as it can motivate us to overcome challenges. The example Pink uses is Bob the Builder who asks the question, “Can we fix it?” When we ask a question of ourselves Pink asserts that we find that we will start to come up with answers and strategies to handle those problems. Another tactic that the book references to deal with adversity is to send yourself a rejection letter.  This is good humorous therapy.


3)      Clarity- The key point here is that Pink encourages us to be problem finders not problem solvers. Years ago those in sales excelled by providing access to information. However, now they need to be skilled at curating the information. Curating refers to organizing and shifting through large amounts of data to present to others a snapshot of what the essential information really is. In the past gifted salespeople were those that answered questions, but now the best ones are those that ask questions. On page 132 Pink notes that in a survey of private employers the top ranked ability that is most important in today’s workforce is “problem identification.”


4)      Pitch- Pink walks the reader through the six different pitches which are the one-word pitch, the question pitch, the rhyming pitch, the subject line pitch, the Twitter pitch, and the Pixar pitch. There is a great example of the Twitter Pitch on page170. In 2011 the Tippie Business School at the University of Iowa asked prospective students, “What makes you an exceptional Tippie full-time M.B.A. candidate and future M.B.A hire?” However applicants had to respond with a tweet of 140 or less characters to answer the question starting in 2011. The winner John Yates wrote a haiku.

Globally minded

Innovative and drive

Tippie can sharpen



5)      Improvise- Hearing Offers and Saying “Yes and” were key here. Hearing offers for me meant that you can select the positive out of a negative response and focus on the future. The example given concerned asking your brother in law for $200 to help with a charity. If the brother in law says he cannot give $200 that would be an offer since he can possibly donate a smaller amount. If the brother in law cannot give right now that is an offer in that it is possible the brother in law can donate at a later time. Saying “Yes and” is important in that it allows you to think of ways to deal with any potential difficulties in getting to your goal.  An example was the idea of having a high school reunion in Las Vegas and the concern was that it would be too expensive for a lot of people. Using the “Yes and” strategy you may come up with this statement to address the expense issue. “Yes and if it’s too expensive for some people we can raise money or organize road trips.”


6)      Serve- Pink notes the need to make a message personal and purposeful for positive action to be taken. One example on the personal level was the study of radiologists who normally work in an environment without much contact with other people. There was concern that the effectiveness of their work would be impacted as the work became too impersonal. In this study a photograph of a patient accompanied each file that the radiologist had to examine. When the photograph was missing from the file it was discovered that “80% of incidental findings were not reported” (see page 211). Making our messages purposeful can also be effective. A study performed on hospital staff found far greater sanitary measures were taken when a sign read “Hand Hygiene Prevents Patients From Catching Diseases” (see page 216). Another sign created to deal with dog excrement read “Children play here. Pick Up After Your Dog”.


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