Review of To Sell Is Human

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To Sell Is Human book summary


9 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

9 Style


Daniel Pink is the best-selling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind. His books have been translated into 34 languages, and his groundbreaking thoughts and guidance are known worldwide. During a break after finishing a book, Pink carefully charted all his activities over a two-week period. He was surprised to discover that, by any objective measure, the way he spent his time proved he was a salesman. In those two weeks, he pitched a magazine article, sought a new seat on a plane and dealt with his colleagues, all in pursuit of “resources other than money.” Struck by this revelation, Pink offers an overview of today’s world in which you and everyone else sell constantly. You also engage in “nonsales selling” when you offer ideas or actions that don’t bring you immediate profit. Sometimes you sell yourself or your skills or your views. Pink sets out to construct “a broad rethinking of sales as we know it.” He examines what sales mean now and in the future. He also provides a new paradigm: As an alternative to the classic ABC sales mantra “Always Be Closing,” Pink suggests “Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity.”

About the Author

Daniel H. Pink’s books have been translated into 34 languages and sold more than one million copies in the US. His best-selling titles include Drive and A Whole New Mind.


Charm and Insight

Pink states his propositions plainly and simply. His authorial voice communicates good will. And for all his considerable intelligence, Pink doesn’t talk down to his readers or trumpet his expertise. He has a folksy, unpretentious style. However, his continual presentation of himself as just another busy dude who stumbled onto something new and exciting can get a little tiresome, and he can become downright annoying when he launches ideas that seem unrealistic. But on the whole, Pink’s charm makes him readable, credible and memorable; after all, his other books have sold more than a million copies in the US alone. In foundational but not wholly original advice, Pink urges salespeople to remember that “honesty, directness and transparency” produce higher-yielding long-term customer relations. He posits that the “natural” salesperson either doesn’t exist or is irrelevant or both, “in part because we’re all naturally salespeople.” Lifelong social interaction only enhances your sales skills.


Alec Baldwin’s incendiary speech to a group of salesmen in the film Glengarry Glen Ross exemplifies old-school sales thinking. Speaking the words of playwright David Mamet, Baldwin reminds the salesmen to “A – always. B – be. C – closing.” For decades, this has been the main idea drilled into every salesperson. But it worked only when clients had fewer options and salespeople held all the data. As Pink shows with clear examples, the end of this “information asymmetry” transforms sales. Now that buyers have infinite choices and may know more about products and features than many salespeople, Pink offers a richer, more contemporary ABC.

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