Daniel H. Pink is the author of the new book, “To Sell Is Human-The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.” Pink penned the bestsellers, “Drive,” and “A Whole New Mind.”
Pink declares it’s time to forget the old ABCs of selling (“Always be closing”) and adopt the new ABCs: Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. The new ABCs tell you how to be. Honing your pitch, learning how to improvise and serve show you what to do.
Servant leadership is a popular concept and now Pink introduces servant selling to help you move others
Sales and non-sales selling are ultimately about service that surpasses perfunctory customer greetings in stores or pizza delivery within thirty minutes, although both are important.
It’s a broader, deeper, transcendent definition of service that improves others’ lives and the world. Many people can achieve something greater and more enduring than simply exchanging resources; and it’s apt to happen if we apply two key concepts: Make it personal and make it purposeful.
1. Make It Personal. Radiologists lead lonely professional lives, often sitting alone in dimly lit rooms or hunched over computers reading X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. The isolation can dull their job interest, ultimately diminishing their performance when it feels impersonal and mechanical.
Three hundred patients consented to a study allowing their photo to accompany their CT scan. Radiologists who viewed the CT scans with a face picture reported feeling more empathy towards those patients and being more meticulous in examining the CT scan.
Outstanding radiologists are able to identify “incidental findings;” abnormalities in a scan that the physician wasn’t looking for and aren’t related to the targeted ailment for treatment.
Three months later, researchers re-presented eighty-one of the CT scans to the radiologists who had discovered incidental findings; this time however, without patient face photos (the radiologists didn’t realize they’d already seen the same scan due to the volume of scans they read daily).
Results showed that 80 percent of the incidental findings weren’t reported when photos were removed from the files.
The study demonstrated that, for health professionals, a single-minded reliance on processes and algorithms that obscure the human being on the other side of a transaction is similar to clinical error.
Every time we try to move others, it involves another human being; yet often in the name of professionalism, we neglect the human element and adopt an abstract, distant stance.
The value of making it personal when serving others is two-sided. First, you recognize the person as a human being. Second, you put yourself personally behind whatever it is you’re attempting to sell.
Pink describes his experience of eating at a well-known Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C. While waiting in the lobby, he noticed a picture of the store’s owner along with his cell phone number; inviting patrons to call him directly with comments about service. It communicated a person behind the restaurant who cares about his customers’ happiness.
“Many of us like to say, “I’m accountable,” or “I care.” Pink says. “Few of us are so deeply committed to serving others that we’re willing to say, “Call my cell.”
2. Make It Purposeful. Hospitals are conducive to infection and the best way for health professionals to reduce their occurrence is to wash their hands. Surprisingly, the frequency of hand washing amongst U.S. hospital staff is low.
Researchers experimented with a hospital staff, providing three different approaches to the non-sales selling challenge of hand washing.
They received permission to post signs next to the hospital’s soap and hand sanitizing gel dispensers for two weeks. One third of the signs appealed to the health care professionals’ self interest: “Hand Hygiene Protects You From Catching Diseases.”
One-third of the signage emphasized patient consequences: “Hand Hygiene Prevents Patients From Catching Disease.”
The final one-third used a catchy slogan and served as the control: “Gel In, Gel Out.”
Results showed the most effective sign was the second one, which appealed to purpose (protecting patients).
Pink says that emphasizing purpose is powerful, yet often overlooked when we’re trying to move others. We often assume human beings are motivated mainly by self-interest. Research shows however, that we also do things for prosocial or self-transcendent reasons.
We should not only be serving but also tapping into others’ innate desire to serve. Making it personal works better when we also make it purposeful.
“Servant leadership” is a popular practice based on the premise of leaders subordinating themselves to followers. Many companies embrace the practice, including Starbucks and Southwest Airlines.
Pink says it’s time for servant selling; based on serving first, then selling. To move others today, it’s important to ask if the person you’re selling to agrees to buy; will his or her life improve? When you conclude your interaction will the world be a better place than when you began?
On New Year’s Day, author Dan Pink hosted an exclusive webinar for first responders to “To sell Is Human.” He endorsed the forthcoming book, “Give and Take,” by Adam Grant. The book highlights givers, takers and matchers. Givers are by far the most successful. Grant is the youngest tenured professor and highest-rated teacher at Wharton School of Business. “Give and Take” will be released on April 9, 2013. To learn more, visit: