Selling has a bad name, especially in Europe. And here’s an American trying to tell us we are all selling, all the time. Sounds yuck? Fortunately it’s a lot more subtle than that. In fact he’s really saying that true selling is not about foot-in-the-door persistence but about listening, empathy, and seeking to serve others. You knew that already didn’t you? So you can skip the first section, where he redefines selling and illustrates how we are all natural sales people. Go straight to section two, where he appropriates the old ABC of sales,”Always Be Closing”, to create a new mantra for the sales person, Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. Unlike many popular writers in this territory, Dan Pink is neither an academic nor a journalist, but he is a master at coining mnemonics. His TED talk about Mastery Autonomy and Purpose (oh yes they need capital letters) based on a previous book, Drive, was a huge hit, and deservedly so. His overall approach here is pretty compelling, and nicely expressed, even if it’s a bit obvious now it’s written down. Section two is “how to be”, section three ” what to do”, with a framework for putting the theory into practice. You’ll also like his round-up of different approaches to making a pitch – essentially, ways to tell a story. These range from just one word – the Saatchi approach – to a whole narrative. For that, he cites the now-famous Pixar pitch, illustrating by the structure of Finding Nemo.

We marketers know we are selling all the time, to clients, colleagues, bosses, as well as to customers. But it’s nice to be reminded how good sales conversations create value for all concerned, and how fulfilling that can be.

Books | June 2014