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“To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2020

Overview of the book

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink is a book dedicated to the idea that selling is not just a concept from marketing but a foundation of our daily life. Structurally, the book is divided into three parts, each exploring slightly different aspects of modern marketing and culture.

The first part of the book analyzes the current situation in sales, the concepts of entrepreneurship, elasticity, and ed-med, and the transition “from caveat emptor to caveat venditor”, which concerns the change in the image of sales (Pink 43). Firstly, the author reflects on how the concept of sales has recently changed, from the experience of door-to-door salespersons to the various resources for e-commerce, startups and media projects (Ger 113). The level of consuming goods and their variety have increased; therefore, 1 in 9 people in the Western countries work in sales, and this figure is growing (Dawson 77). Therefore, all people are starting to think from the perspective of selling things; it becomes part of the daily routine.

On that basis, in the second part, the author presents three characteristics of a successful salesperson. The first trait is attunement, which is the ability to adapt to the buyer’s perspective of the events, to see the transaction from the different angle (Orlitzky and Swanson 120). The highlight of author’s conclusions about attunement is that the most effective sellers are neither extraverts nor introverts, but more ambiverted people.

According to Pink, the reason for that is their ability of “exiting your own perspective and entering theirs” (73). The second quality of modern sellers is buoyancy. Buoyancy is a way of self-motivation by asking questions to encourage critical thinking and come up with new solutions. It is an imitation of a dialog within the self-talk (Pink 101). Finally, clarity is a trait responsible for an ability to explain the purpose of the product that you are selling (Pink 122).

Three qualities of an effective seller shape three principles of action that the author suggests for everyone. They are to pitch, to improvise, and to be at service. In my opinion, the highlight of the book is how the author describes the right pitch. The objective of it is “to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation” (Pink 155).

It is a basis for making contact with a buyer (McKee 58). Improvisation includes making suggestions, guessing what information might interest the buyer (Jabnoun and Khalifa 375). The service component is about the attitude. In order to understand the buyer, the seller needs to understand that the buyer is in the position of power. These qualities add up to understanding the buyer’s thoughts rather than just responding to his words.

The author’s purpose

Daniel Pink’s purpose is to convince the readers that selling is not only the part of relationships in business, economy, and marketing but it is also inherent in the fabric of the daily life. The potential readership is quite a wide audience since the book resonates with all people working in sales. However, the author’s claim is that he offers the principles on which all the human interactions work.

Evaluation of the book

The author is very convincing in explaining the development of sales, and how now elements of commerce can be found in many aspects of life other than marketing. The author proves his point by referring to the daily experiences, implying that talking friends into going somewhere or doing something is, in many ways, the same as pitching them the idea. In fact, we use strategies from marketing in real life more often than we notice. A notable suggestion from the author is his reflection on the role of extraverted and introverted temperaments in sales. However, he did not expand on it in fuller detail. Even though there are some sample cases and anecdotes on this subject, the theoretical part of it, the cultural and social reasons behind it were a little left out.

Instead of that, the author unconvincingly turns to the idea of emotional intelligence. Listening to other people is, of course, one of the cornerstones in marketing and any human relationships in general, but it is hard to define the topicality of Pink’s suggestions. Even with the included exemplary stories, the author’s recommendations do not apply to anyone in particular. For me, it is hard to relate to the book because it makes no distinctions between people who work in sales and those who are unrelated to that sphere, as well as between social, economic and cultural backgrounds of the readership.

Personally, I admire the idea of the similarities between persuasion in business and convincing people in real life; I believe that there is a potential for applying real life methods in marketing. In terms of relation to the culture, the book does not expand on extraverts, introverts, and ambiverts in different cultural context even though there are many things that form the temperament. I believe it is not the result of the cultural bias, but there is room for improvement.

Summary

In conclusion, the most important of this book’s highlights is the suggestion of how our marketing behavior has changed and how the ideas from life can be applied to the area of business. Probably the weakest side of the book is its potential readership. However, I would recommend reading this book with the rate of 7 out of 10.

References

Dawson, Leslie M. “Marketing for human needs in a humane future.”Business Horizons 23.3 (1980): 72-82.

Ger, Güliz. “Human Development and Humane Consumption: Well-Being beyond the Good Life.” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing (1997): 110-125.

Jabnoun, Naceur, and Azaddin Khalifa. “A customized measure of service quality in the UAE.” Managing Service Quality: An International Journal 15.4 (2005): 374-388.

McKee, Daryl. “Spirituality and marketing.” Handbook of workplace spirituality and organizational performance (2003): 57-75.

Orlitzky, Marc, and Diane L. Swanson. “Value attunement: Toward a theory of socially responsible executive decision-making.” Australian Journal of Management 27.1 (2002): 119-128.

Pink, Daniel H. To sell is human: The surprising truth about moving others. London, United Kingdom: Penguin, 2012.

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IvyPanda. ""To Sell is Human" by Daniel Pink." June 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/to-sell-is-human-by-daniel-pink/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. ""To Sell is Human" by Daniel Pink." June 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/to-sell-is-human-by-daniel-pink/.

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