To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

I rec­om­mend To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink to any­one in the A/E/C industry because, as the book says, “we’re all in sales now.” Many A/E/C firms claim that “every­one in the firm sells,” but they rarely offer sales train­ing. This book fills that knowl­edge gap, even for those that don’t think of them­selves as salespeople.

This sum­mary high­lights the why, what, and how to apply the core con­cepts of the book.

1) Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.
2) Sales has changed more in the last 10 years than in the pre­vi­ous 100.

ABC used to stand for Always Be Clos­ing. Accord­ing to Pink, ABC now refers to Attune­ment, Buoy­ancy, and Clar­ity.

Attune­ment “” The capac­ity to take someone’s view and cal­i­brate your words and actions to match. Pro­pos­als and Pre­sen­ta­tion Inter­views need to be attuned to our buyer’s chal­lenges. If the RFP is writ­ten using spe­cific lan­guage, then selec­tively adopt that lan­guage in your response to demon­strate an under­stand­ing of their challenges.

Buoy­ancy “” The capac­ity to stay afloat in “an ocean of rejec­tion.” After pur­suit losses, Pink rec­om­mends inter­rog­a­tive self-talk. Dur­ing your next go/no go delib­er­a­tion, inter­ro­gate your­self. Ask “can we deliver this project with excel­lence? If yes, then list the top 5 rea­sons why. Use these 5 rea­sons inspire your pro­posal and presentation.

Clar­ity “” Mak­ing sense in murky sit­u­a­tions. Pink defines this as prob­lem find­ing, then prob­lem solv­ing. Teams that win fre­quently make rec­om­men­da­tions about poten­tial project prob­lems that the client hadn’t even considered.

Pitch, Impro­vise and Serve are how to apply the new ABCs of sales.

Pitch “” Sum­ma­riz­ing the essence of your project pur­suit into a mem­o­rable tagline or phrase can help your mes­sage stick. Accord­ing to Pink, rhyming “taste great and goes down eas­ily.” A great resource to help with rhymes isrhymezone”‹.com.

Story is another bril­liant way to pitch. Story is mem­o­rable, pow­er­ful, and emo­tional. Big deci­sions are made on emo­tion, then later jus­ti­fied with fact.

Impro­vise “” To Sell is Human reminds us that there are three main rules in Improv. Hear offers, say “yes and,” and make your part­ner look good. Being a great mar­keter means being a great lis­tener. Mak­ing your part­ner look good can be directly applied to pre­sen­ta­tion inter­views. Not only are selec­tion pan­els lis­ten­ing for what you say, but they also observe how your team inter­acts. Mak­ing fel­low team mem­bers look good com­mu­ni­cates that you will make your client look good.

Serve “” Pink reminds us to make our work both per­sonal and pur­pose­ful while serv­ing oth­ers. By under­stand­ing your client’s per­sonal hopes, dreams. fears and inse­cu­ri­ties, you will offer bet­ter solu­tions. Also, ask why a pur­suit mat­ters to you and your team. Then share your answers in pro­pos­als and inter­views. If your pur­pose for pur­su­ing a project improves qual­ity of life or improves the world, then your team now has an inspired mission.

What’s your reac­tion when you think of a sales per­son? The terms most often used are “pushy, slimy, slick, obnox­ious, etc.” This is the old model of sales, try­ing to con­vince buy­ers. Nobody likes to feel manip­u­lated. To Sell is Human offers a new model. A model based on emo­tional intel­li­gence, pur­pose and ser­vice. Since we’re all in sales now, it’s nice to know we can use our pow­ers for good

* A / E / C = Architecture, Engineering, & Construction (but you already knew that)
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