In preparation for a sales training workshop I was teaching this week, I picked up Daniel Pink’s latest book To Sell Is Human. I wanted to know what some of the latest thinking is about the sales profession.
What struck me right off was Pink’s analysis of the business of sales and how it has changed over the years. He says that we have moved from the the age of caveat emptor (buyer beware) to caveat venditor (vendor beware). It’s true when you think about it. When was the last time you purchased something without doing research on the Internet and finding out as much as you could about the product you are interested in. Pink says that in many cases the buyer comes into the sales situation with as much if not more information than the seller. One car salesperson in the book said that they could remember the time when the amount of money the dealership paid for a car from the factory was locked in the vault and no one was privy to the information. Today, that data is a few clicks away.
Pink asserts that for salespeople to be successful in this new world, they must be skilled at three things:
- Attunement – In Customer Oriented Selling, we call this focusing on the customer. Being able to understand the customer’s perspective. The things they are struggling with and what they are doing to deal with those things.
- Buoyancy – The ability to stay afloat despite the rejection that is inevitable in any sales job.
- Clarity – This one is that struck a chord with me. In the past, it was enough for a salesperson to solve a customer’s problem. Today, the customer is looking for someone who can help them identify a problem they may not even know they have.
The book tells us, and rightly so, that we are all salespeople. Each of us is in the business of moving people. We may not have a job that directly sells a good or service in exchange for money, but we are always trying to convince someone to part with a resource. Sometimes that takes the form of selling your boss on a new idea that might help the department. Other times it’s helping your kid understand the importance of finishing their homework so they can get a passing grade.
Since we’re all in sales, I will recommend this book as a good place to start your sales education.