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on 14 July 2016
Q: What does a book on ‘Selling’ have to do with teachers?!? A: A great deal apparently! Pink starts by pointing out two facts: a) the fastest growing fields today are Ed – Med (Education and Medicine – ok, we sort of knew that) and b) an incredible 40% of our time is spent in non-sales selling!! We sell clients on how great we are and we sell learners on English (or maths, history, etc.)! That involves a lot of presentation, communication and persuasion skills. Pink can help us with all three of them.
Pink has studied communication extensively and he has lots of interesting things to say on how to write catchy e-mail titles (p. 167), tweets (p. 170) and why using visuals is so important (p. 180). But he also gives us the results of a number of studies on such fascinating topics as...
...Labelling (p. 138): In a Prisoner’s Dilemma type of game, 33% of the participants cooperated when they were told it was called ‘The Wall-Street Game’ but the number doubled when others were told they would be playing ‘The Community Game’. The same effect was found when some students were labelled ‘tidy’ as opposed to a controlled group (Moral: Label you students positively and they will live up to the label!)
...Facilitation (p. 142): In another study, students who had been singled out for their pro-sociality by their peers, were asked to contribute to a food drive for charity. The same was done with others classified as ‘selfish’. The results: 8% of the former but 25% of the latter donated food! Why? The ‘selfish’ students had been given clearer instructions about what to donate and when! (Moral: motivation aside, direct behavioural instructions [‘Do this!’] can go a long way towards ensuring compliance).
...Persuasion Techniques: Here is one: instead of asking students whether they have studied for a test which might trigger ‘Psychological Reactance’ we could ask them ‘How ready are you for the test? Say on a scale from 1 to 10?’ When they answer, we can then follow up with the fantastic ‘Why not a lower number?!?’ This forces them to focus on the positive (what they have done) and shows them what they still need to work on! Excellent!! (p. 213)
What makes the book so readable is that Pink also gives readers many real life examples. Here is my favourite one: On page 213 of the book there is a picture which hangs on the wall of an Italian restaurant. The picture is that of the owner and it reads: ‘If you had anything less than a great experience at ‘il Canale’, please call my cell: 703-624-2111’!! Now think: how many DOSs would be prepared to do such a thing? :-)
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on 29 May 2017
Bought this on the strength of Drive. Maybe I'm more grown-up now but I found the intro distinctly unpersuasive. You can watch him bend the research findings to add weight to his claims that they do not deserve. Then he claims that Palantir "simply requires each new hire to read two books, one is a nonfiction account of..." since he doesn't tell us what books, I googled it and found it to be untrue. Different employees get different books. So the author it's building on a foundation of myth. I expect it's a very good book for getting by in Pink's mythical world, but I would like to see more rigor from a book based on the real one.
And now I'm wondering what I have to un-learn from Drive.
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on 2 April 2017
Really interesting book, easy to read. As anything you want to become excellent at, the theory is good but only practice makes you excellent. I will certainly need to read the book again but I can already apply some important principles of the book: i.e. thinking not so much about giving answers but asking the right questions.
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on 27 October 2016
Daniel Pink is simply brilliant and writes and communicates in way that is simple to digest
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on 2 July 2017
Thank you very happy with my purchase
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on 25 January 2014
Try some of the suggestions in your retail establishment - quite amazingly logical but along a different axis from how you might normally think - a great read indeed, and I keep going back to it to remind myself of how entrenched we seem to become in our ways.
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on 10 March 2017
Filled with actionable content from start to finish, don't think I've ever used so many bookmarks as I did in this one
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on 1 May 2017
Really good audiobook. I listen a bit at a time and feel that this helps it sink in.
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on 13 May 2013
Daniel H Pink's To Sell is Human traces how the world of marketing has changed with a consequence that the stereotypical image of a secondhand car salesman is a long way from best practice today. There has been a fundamental shift in power: in the past Salesman had knowledge of the product and of pricing creating a power imbalance between salesman and customer (hence caveat emptor); however, with the rise of the Internet and social media, consumers now have knowledge and the power to bite back if they are bitten (hence caveat venditor).
Central to Pink's thesis is the argument that to a greater or lesser extent we all employ marketing techniques as part of our daily work (selling ideas to others, exhorting others to do things that we want them to do, etc.) hence his assertion that we are all to some extent in marketing.
Pitching
This is quite a practical book and one of the strongest examples of this is the section on "pitching" to others. Here Pink outlines six different ways to pitch. These would make an excellent brainstorming session for school marketing departments - How would sum up your school using the following six techniques?
The one-word pitch: e.g. Mastercard's "Priceless"
The question pitch: e.g. Ronald Regan's "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" in the 1976 US Election campaign.
The rhyming pitch: e.g. "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" from O.J. Simpson's lawyer at his trial.
The subject line pitch: A phrase that can fit into an email subject line (tip: utility and curiosity are the key to success here)
The Twitter pitch: Using 140 or fewer characters.
The Pixar Pitch: Employing the winning formula used by Pixar movies (Once upon a time . . . . Every day, . . . . One day, . . . . Because of that . . . Because of that . . . . Until finally, . . . . )
Pink provides an excellent summary of his book in the form of what he terms a "Pixar Pitch":
"Once upon a time only some people were in sales. Every day, they sold stuff, we did stuff and everyone was happy. One day everything changed: All of us ended up in sales - and sales changed from a world of caveat emptor to caveat venditor. Because of that, we had to learn the new ABCs - attunement, buoyancy and clarity. Because of that, we had to learn some new skills - to pitch, to improvise, and to serve. Until finally, we realised that selling isn't some grim accommodation to a brutal marketplace culture. It's part of who we are - and therefore something we can do better by being more human." p.172-3
Pink ends his book on a rather moral note arguing that selling needs to provide a service: he asks two questions, which all would do well to heed.
If the person you're selling to agrees to buy, will his or her life improve?
When your interaction is over, will the world be a better place than when you began?
Overview
This sits firmly in the accessible business/psychology genre much loved by our colleagues across the pond. Pink writes well and this is an easy read with lots of good practical take-aways in the form of exercises at the end of the key chapters.
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on 2 August 2014
The book is so boring at the beginning that I put it down repeatedly and stopped reading it altogether for a year! That is until I read "Drive" by the same author and loved it so much that I thought there must be something in here. Low and behold, deeper into book there are some real perls of wisdom.

Don't be discouraged if you find the start slow. It does get better.
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