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