Book Review: To Sell Is Human

As part of our commitment to our own continuing education and professional formation, the partners of Sacred Stones Ministries are in covenant to read and discuss one book a quarter that can inform our work. Recognizing that many of our followers might find these insights helpful as well, we will offer here a brief review of each title, including one or two main points that can be applied to ministry.

book review, sales, marketing, leadership, communication, persuasionTo Sell Is Human:
The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

by Daniel H. Pink

Reviewed by Rev. Kerry Greenhill

Premise: Whether “sales” is in your job title or not, we’re all in sales now. “Moving,” or “non-sales selling,” is about persuading, convincing, and influencing others to give up something they’ve got in exchange for what we’ve got.

Main Points:

A. People mostly think of “sales” and selling in terms of a used car salesman – sleazy, pushy, and untrustworthy – but the world of sales has changed dramatically in recent decades.

  1. “Moving” means moving other people to part with resources—whether something tangible like cash or intangible like effort or attention—so that we both get what we want. People are now spending about 40% of their time at work engaged in this kind of non-sales selling, and they consider this aspect of their work crucial to their professional success.
  2. Both technologies that have removed the need for specialized salespeople in some industries, and economic pressures for established companies to do more with less, have meant that sales has become integrated into a wider variety of job descriptions.
  3. Instead of “caveat emptor” (buyer beware), the explosion in the availability of information has shifted the landscape to “caveat venditor” (seller beware).

B. The old ABCs of selling (Always Be Closing) have taken a new form: Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. These represent character traits to cultivate in yourself:

  1. Attune yourself to the interests of the person(s) you are trying to move by practicing empathy, perspective-taking, and strategic mimicry; stretch yourself to be more of an ambivert, with positive qualities of introversion and extraversion.
  2. Cultivate Buoyancy so you don’t get weighed down by failure or rejection, by maintaining a 3:1 positivity ratio, and practicing an optimistic explanatory style (see failures or rejections as temporary, specific, and external rather than permanent, pervasive, and personal).
  3. Develop Clarity so you can help others help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways, to identify problems they didn’t realize they had, and to identify creative, win-win solutions.

C. Three techniques will improve your ability to move others: Pitch, Improvise, and Serve.

  1. Work to develop a Pitch that will offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both of you. Consider 6 successors to the standard elevator pitch: the one-word pitch, the question pitch, the rhyming pitch, the email subject-line pitch (utility, curiosity, and specificity), the Twitter pitch, the Pixar pitch (fairytale storyline).
  2. Incorporate lessons from the world of improv comedy to Improvise as you seek to move others: Hear offers for connection (this requires listening without an agenda). Say “Yes, and”: it is more inclusive and creative than “No” or “Yes, but.” Make your partner look good to learn from them and ultimately find solutions that benefit everyone.
  3. Seek to Serve others in all you do: Make it personal (to them, and to you) and purposeful. Consider this question from Robert Greenleaf’s essay on the Servant as Leader:

“The best test, and the most difficult to administer, is this: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

servant leader, quote

Tweet this: “Do those served grow as persons? Do they… become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

Applications to Ministry:

Some pastors might see evangelism as a form of non-sales selling, an attempt to move others to make a commitment to God in Jesus Christ. For many others, the work of “moving” a non-Christian to commit to Christ is better left to the Holy Spirit.But all church leaders have to engage in the art of persuasion as part of the work of leading a congregation, whether it’s a question of selling the idea of a new worship service, convincing the Trustees to update the signage on your building, or inspiring people of all ages to live out their faith in new ways. Some of the techniques described will be more applicable than others, but the Robert Greenleaf quotation above captures what I believe servant leadership in the church – and the process of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” is all about.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s