To Sell is Human, Part 1: Sales and Marketing in an Information World


This is the second in AIM’s series of posts dedicated to influential business and marketing books. Join the club—read Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell Is Human along with us, and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.


You may not realize it, but most people in the workplace today engage in a selling behavior. One in nine consider themselves salespeople by trade, but the other eight also engage in sales, specifically “non-sales selling.” In a global survey, when respondents were asked, “What percentage of your work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value for something you have?” a significant group of respondents replied that they spent 70-80% of their time doing so. Author Daniel Pink also calls non-sales selling “moving,” in the sense that many of us are moving others through teaching, persuading, and motivation in our day-to-day jobs.


In our modern age, increasingly accessible technology has enabled customers to research information about potential purchases. Our industry has essentially moved from the motto “customer beware” to “ seller beware.” Taking the low road in sales is harder and riskier, and the high road (involving honesty, directness, and transparency) has become the better long-term and pragmatic solution.


For illustration, Pink discusses how CarMax, America’s largest used car dealership today, is successful. CarMax utilizes the “seller beware” rhetoric and focuses on the direct exchange of information to attract a wide range of customers. Customers roll into CarMax dealerships with printouts of cars and look up information on the CarMax website through their tablets and phones. By enabling free-flowing information, CarMax has more customers than competing mom-and-pop used car dealerships.


So what can we do as businesses and entrepreneurs to grow big? Since 60% of the buying process now takes place prior to a customer’s engagement with a seller, content marketing is an initial and crucial component of building rapport and trust with customers. As we turn into a more transparent society, businesses today must have well-informed and educated marketing and sales teams and deploy useful, strategic information.


Are you in sales? Take the challenge: 

Examine your last workday and map out your duties. What percentage of your work involved convincing or persuading people to give up something they value for something you have? Do your answers show that you are doing sales, or were you unable to identify anything sales-related? Share your answers with us!


Other questions to think about:

  •     What kind of seller are you? Do you use traditional sales techniques? What are your sales techniques?
  •     Which stores do you avoid because of their hard-sell tactics? Are you hesitant to talk to what we consider hard-core salespeople (car sales, insurance sales, etc.)?
  •     Conversely, which stores do you like going to for their resources or relationship-building character?


Reading Schedule:

  •     Part Two: How to Be – March 2015
  •     Part Three: What to Do – April 2015


Want to read along with us? Buy the book on Google Play, iTunes or Amazon. If you’re an Ingram Micro community member or manufacturer partner, you can also catch Pink at the Ingram Micro Spring ONE event in May, where he’ll be featured as a guest speaker.