Daniel Pink in KC


Tonight I’m at the Kauffman Founders School to see Daniel Pink, author of To Sell is Human, speak. I’ve been a fan ever since I read Drive and A Whole New Mind.

Tonight’s talk was from his latest book, and Daniel was billed as “offering a fresh look at the art and science of sales when he shares insights from his book To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth aAbout Moving Others.”

Although I started in the overflow room, I was fortunate enough to get in the main room when there were a few open seats before he began. Cool bonus…free copy of the book! Of course I already have it, so this’ll make a nice gift. 🙂

Daniel opened with a weather comment, and asked “what do you want to talk about on a cloudy Tuesday night? Let’s talk about sales!”

He likes to use repetition in his talks, and his overview was no exception:
2, 3, 4
2 insights, 3 principles, 4 takaways
2, 3, 4

– 15 years ago, there was a theory that sales people would suffer from disintermediation (i.e. shrinking like the number of telephone operators)
1/9 in 2000 had sales in their title/business cards
Now (2014)…still 1/9 in sales

Daniel asked 7,000 Americans, “What percentage of your work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value for something you offer?”

41% of their time on the job (24 minute of every hour)
It’s sales, but money isn’t changing hands
Instead it’s time, effort, attention, zeal, belief …

Next slide, same pie chart with 1/9 in sales, with something written on the rest of the pie: Traditional sales 1/9, non-traditional sales, 8/9

Insight 1 – Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.

When you think of “sales” or “selling” what is the first word that comes to mind? – yielded a text file of 7,000 words – organized by parts of speech – top 25 adjectives in a word cloud
Pushy, yuck, hard, difficult, annoying…20 of 25 were negative

Sales used to favor the seller. For the buyer, it was not much information, not many choices and no way to talk back

When the seller has the advantage in information, you have information asymmetry – we live in a world now that is getting closer and closer to information parity

When he asked 7,000 people about the first picture in their mind when they think of sales, most said a used car sales. This was eye opening: None said “woman”.

Old rules of sales – Always Be Closing

New rules:

– can you get out of your head and see things from other perspective?
– find common ground

– talked about Fuller Brushmen (vacuum story in book)
– every day I face an ocean of rejection (not his quote) – how to stay afloat on that ocean on rejection

– access to information isn’t the competitive advantage anymore. Your ability to distill the information
– the premium has shifted from problem solving to problem identifying

4 practical takeaways
1st practice
Increase your effectiveness by briefly reducing your feelings of power

Experiment to measure attunement
3 very simple instructions – the odds of someone being harmed are very small
Daniel did the “draw a capital E” on your forehead experiment from the book
High power participants were three times more likely to draw their own perspective
People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. And the reason they quit bosses is they have bosses that draw the E the wrong way
Inverse relationship between feelings of power and

2nd practice
Don’t be a glad hander, be yourself

Ambiverts out performed introverts and extroverts

Somewhat introverted, somewhat extroverted
They know when to speak up, and know when to shut up

3rd practice
Interrogative self-talk
“Can you do this?” – you have to answer with how

What should your self talk sound like?
“You can do this”

Be like Bob the Builder. “Can we fix it?”

4th practice
Give people an off-ramp – make it easier to act

Who is least likely to donate to a food drive?
Who is the most likely to donate to a food drive?
2X2 matrix – general letter(there’s a food drive) and specific letter (name, what we’re looking for, where drop off with map)
Least likely with general letter – 0%
Most likely with specific letter – 44%
Most likely with general letter – 8%
Least likely with specific letter – 25%

We over-weight the disposition and under-weight the context
This is the “Fundamental attribution error”

i.e. “he donated because he’s a kind person”

Questions and answers

Single most valuable principle?
– conscientiousness – has a very strong predictive value

Would someone like Donald Trump ever think to turn the E around?
– it’s probably a bit of a bell curve – no data, but I believe there are certain people that almost always draw the E from the self perspective

What about sales in other cultures?
– some degree of universality, such as introversion and extroversion
– in the US, the mean would be about 4.1 (7 point scale)
– in Japan, there is the same distribution, but the mean would be below 4

Is there a way to ease into sales?
– yes, you can help them get small wins and build up. Also encourage them to develop a skill outside, like raising money for a non-profit

Values scale, and bad values scale faster

Daniel mentioned he would be a 2.7 on the 7 point scale (surprise, as a writer he’s more of an introvert)

He actually carries ear plugs for traveling.

This was an awesome session. Having read the book first gave me better insights to what I heard, but I think those who haven’t read the book learned a great deal as well. It was really great to hear some of these principles in person. Daniel was very entertaining and a clearly amazing speaker.

And I got the book autographed and a selfie!

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