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Book Review: To Sell is Human Print E-mail

book_to_sell_icon.jpgThe surprising truth about persuading, convincing and influencing others.

Author:    Daniel Pink
Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
Reviewer: Gilbert Victoire

Pink’s book at times reads like an academic text complete with footnotes and an index. At other times, it reads like a novel. It is certainly easier to read and more entertaining than an academic text. Nonetheless, the reader feels, occasionally, overburdened with the amount of further research referred to in support of Pink’s thesis, when already persuaded.

Much of Pink’s book will resonate with the lawyer who is daily persuading others whether in court or in negotiations.

The book is divided in three parts. The first part sets the scene wherein Pink puts forward the theory that we are now all in sales. Pink espouses that we are constantly persuading, convincing and influencing others to give up something they have got in exchange for something that we of ours. No lawyer would challenge this theory, as this is the essence of what we do. However, Pink takes us on a journey to establish that we also do this at home, whether as parents or partners.

The second part calls heavily on social science to establish what Pink sees as the new qualities most valuable in moving others: Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. Clarity is defined as the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems they didn’t realize they had. Pink sees the transformation from problem solving to problem finding as a central attribute in moving others.

The third part deals with “What to do – the abilities that matter most.” They are: Pitch, Improvise and Serve. All three abilities are essential to a barrister’s tool kit. Barristers make their first pitch to the Judge in their submissions and their final pitch to the Judge (or jury) in their closing address.

Parts Two and Three have a number of useful techniques, tips and sample cases for the reader to practice.

Pink postulates that the ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. This is a notion that was second nature to Jordan Belfort (the Wolf of Wall Street) in his heyday. Notwithstanding his fall from grace, Belfort now continues to exercise his selling skills, as a motivational speaker, with incredible results.

Pink finishes by quoting Alfred Fuller (founder of the Fuller Brush company): “An effective seller isn’t a ‘huckster, who is just out for profit.’ The true ‘salesman is an idealist and an artist’.

Pink goes on:

“So too is the true person. Among the things that distinguish our species from others is our combination of idealism and artistry – our desire to improve the world and to provide that world with something it didn’t know it was missing. Moving others doesn’t require that we neglect those nobler aspects of our nature. Today, it demands that we embrace them. It begins and ends by remembering that to sell is human.”

To sell is human is about the art of persuasion. It also gives the reader more insight into how he or she lives. Pink succeeds in selling the reader on his theory and provides useful guides as to why and how to move others. Pink writes well and draws from numerous sources to support the foundations of his approach. He has useful references to websites for training purposes.

The book is also available as an eBook.

Gilbert Victoire


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