On December 31, 2012, Daniel H. Pink released his new book, “To Sell Is Human-The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.” Pink is the bestselling author of “Drive,” and “A Whole New Mind.”
Pink’s new message declares that regardless of our career, today, we’re all in sales. Traditional selling involves convincing customers and prospects to make a purchase. “Non-sales selling” is Pink’s term for convincing, persuading, and influencing others to give up something they’ve got in exchange for what we’ve got. The concept applies to everybody, as parents cajole children, lawyers sell juries on a verdict and teachers sell students on the value of paying attention in class, to name a few.
To succeed in both traditional selling and non-sales selling requires a new mindset based on the revised ABCs of selling. Previously, the ABCs meant, “always be closing.” Now the ABCs embody attunement, buoyancy, and clarity. The following article highlights clarity.
Clarity. Research confirms that it’s extremely difficult to think of our present-day selves and future-day selves as the same person. This challenge represents the third quality needed (along with attunement and buoyancy), to move others today-clarity.
Clarity is the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh, more revealing ways and identify problems they didn’t realize they had.
The Internet’s information explosion made it easier to find solutions to our problems, thus making salespeople less valuable as problem solvers. Today, good salespeople are excellent problem finders. If we don’t know our problem, we might need help finding it.
Research confirms that most people linked to creative breakthroughs in art, science, or any endeavor; tend to be problem finders.
“Today, both sales and non-sales selling depend more on the creative, heuristic, problem-finding skills of artists than on the reductive, algorithmic, problem-solving skills of technicians,” Pink says.
Pre-Internet, good salespeople excelled at accessing information, much of it unavailable to the general public (i.e. car salespeople). Today, good salespeople must master curating information-sorting through the vast information available and presenting others the most relevant and clarifying pieces.
Historically too, good salespeople mastered answering questions (partly due to privy, industry-related information not available to the masses). Today, top performing salespeople ask questions to uncover possibilities, reveal latent issues and find unexpected problems.
“Clarity depends on contrast,” Pink says. “We often understand something better when we see it in comparison with something else than when we see it in isolation.” The most important question you can ask is “Compared to what?”
Pink describes five frames to present your offering in ways that contrast alternatives and clarify its virtues:
1.The Less Frame. A famous study involved grocery store shoppers being offered twenty-four jam selections at a booth. Results showed 3 percent of the booth shoppers purchased jam, vs. 30 percent who purchased from a similar booth offering only 6 jam choices. Framing people’s choices in a way that restricts their choices can help them see those choices more clearly instead of overwhelming them.
2. The Experience Frame. Research shows that people derive greater satisfaction from purchasing experiences vs. purchasing goods. Experiences give us something to talk about and stories to tell, helping us connect with others and deepening our own identities, both boosting our satisfaction. Framing a sale in experiential terms is apt to lead to satisfied customers and repeat business.
3. The Label Frame. A popular 1975 study involved three fifth-grade classrooms. Teachers, janitors and others told the first group they were extremely neat. Group two heard they used to be neat and were instructed to keep the classroom clean. The third classroom served as a control. Research showed the neatest group was the first group who’d been labeled “neat.” Simply assigning the positive label helped students frame themselves in comparison with others and elevated their behavior.
4. The Blemished Frame. Adding a minor negative detail in an otherwise positive description of a target can give that description a more positive impact. This is named “the blemishing effect,” and operates only under two circumstances. First, the people processing the information must be in a “low effort” state, perhaps busy or distracted and not totally focused on the decision. Second, the information must follow the positive information, not the reverse. Being honest about a small blemish in your offering can result in a sale.
5. The Potential Frame. When selling ourselves, it’s better to emphasize our potential, vs. fixating on what we achieved yesterday. Research shows the potential to be good at something can be preferred over actually being good at that very same thing.
Find an Off-Ramp. Once you’ve found the problem and proper frame, you need to define the actions people need to take. A famous study involved college students and a food drive. Groups were labeled “most likely” and “least likely” to contribute. Surprisingly, the “least likely” group contributed the most, due to receiving a concrete appeal, and a map with location drop-off sites, which the “most likely”
Once you’ve mastered attunement, buoyancy, and clarity, which show you how to be, you need to know what to do. Honing your pitch, learning how to improvise and serve complement your actions.
Dan Pink endorses the Right Question Institute (RQI), a non-profit educational organization offering simple and powerful strategies to help people advocate for themselves in the areas of education, health care, social service, community-based organizations and public agencies. To learn more, visit: http://rightquestion.org/