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To Sell Is Human

The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

By Daniel Pink
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink

To Sell Is Human explains how selling has become an important part of almost every job, and equips the reader with tools and techniques to be more effective at persuading others.

Key idea 1 of 8

Honesty and service are the new tenets of sales.

When most people think of selling, the first thing that springs to mind is a slick, pushy used-car salesman – a distinctly negative image.

Indeed, salespeople used to be able to get away with almost anything in the past, because it was the customer’s responsibility to not make a bad purchase, a policy known as caveat emptor – “buyer beware.” With used cars, for example, customers could be duped into overpaying for a poor product because the seller knew much more about it than the customer; there was an information asymmetry.   

The internet has radically changed this dynamic. Looking to buy a used Nissan Maxima? You can go online and find information on car values, technical specifications and reviews of dealerships in your area. You can also expose a dishonest dealer online, doing serious damage to their business.

We have gone from caveat emptor to caveat venditor – “seller beware.” The internet has made honesty and transparency vital for most sellers. Because the seller can no longer function as a custodian of information, she must become more service-oriented, asking the customer questions and helping him understand the flood of information available online.

This same trend applies to non-sales selling as well. Teachers and doctors are no longer the keepers of knowledge on topics like the Crimean War and irritable bowel syndrome, as students and patients can find information online for themselves. Hence, the value of their work must come from the service they provide, curating and explaining the information.

This radical change also means that the famous ABC of selling, “Always Be Closing,” is hopelessly outdated. Instead, a new ABC of moving people is needed: “Attunement, Buoyancy, Clarity.”

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