Daniel Pink’s New Sales Tips, The Future of CRM, and Innovative Leadership

We’re back for Day Two at Engage 2016!
This morning, author and sales expert Daniel Pink shared a powerful keynote on how sales has changed, and simple changes we can all make to be more persuasive.

Daniel Pink: To Sell Is Human: The New ABCs of Moving Others


How Sales Has Changed

When you think about sales, Pink says, think about selling in the broad sense of the word. Most of us, even if we don’t have “sales” in our title, spend an enormous amount of time at work convincing and persuading people. Whether you’re a boss trying to get your employees to do something in a different way or a staffing agency trying to sell a candidate on a position, we’re all selling.

Here’s the big idea: Selling has changed more in the past 10 years than it had in the previous 100.

For all of human history until now, we lived in a world of information asymmetry. The seller always had more information than the buyer. Buyers didn’t have information, choices or a way to talk back. The buyer was at a disadvantage, which is why we’ve always lived by the code of “buyer beware.”


As a culture, we have a disdain for sales. We think it’s sleazy, slimy, duplicitous and underhanded, because most of what we know about selling is rooted in that world of information asymmetry.

But do we live in that world of information asymmetry today? Pink’s answer: less and less and less. We went through a huge shift, and it’s a big deal. But the change happened so quickly that people haven’t fully grasped the significance of what it means.

Now we live in a world where buyers have all kind of information, many different choices and lots of ways to talk back. The landscape has shifted dramatically.


The New ABCs of Moving Others

So, what do we do about that shift? Pink points to a recent explosion of behavioral science that asks micro-questions about persuasion and effectiveness. The science distills three effective approaches, he says.

In the old days of sales, “ABC” (Always Be Closing) made sense because buyers didn’t have much information. But today, that ABC approach falls flat. Instead, he suggests a new “ABC”: Attunement, Buoyancy, Clarity.

Attunement: Get out of your own head and see things from someone else’s point of view. Take another perspective. Find common ground.

Buoyancy: If you work in sales, you face an ocean of rejection every day. For that reason, salespeople are usually tougher and more courageous than anyone else in an organization.

Humans hate rejection. It’s not something we get used to. Buoyancy is about staying afloat in that ocean of rejection.

Clarity: Sellers used to have an information advantage. Now everyone has access to the information. Access isn’t what sets you apart; curation is. Curating all of the information available and rooting out the signal versus the noise has become essential in most kinds of white-collar work, Pink says. People have tons of information deluging them. They need a curator (a financial adviser, a doctor, a great salesperson) to help them make sense of it.

A lot of people say, “I’m not really in sales, I’m a problem solver.” But customers know what their problem is. Sellers can add value by identifying hidden problems — being problem finders.


4 Ways to Be More Persuasive

Pink shared four recent studies that highlight actionable takeaways for anyone who wants to be more persuasive.

1. Learn how to see things from others’ perspective by dialing down your own feelings of power.

High-status, powerful people often are bad at seeing others’ perspective. Lower-level people are great at it (for survival, since they don’t control the resources).

You can increase your effectiveness by briefly reducing your feelings of power. “When we think about power, we think about a dial that only goes up. When we face resistance, we end up clicking up power. But sometimes to be persuasive, you want to click it down,” he says.

2. Think like an “ambivert.”

We often assume that extroverts are better sellers than introverts, but the data show that’s just not true. Extroverts are more likely to apply for and get sales jobs, and get promoted in sales roles, but they’re not actually more likely to have great sales performance. And extreme introverts aren’t great sellers either. Instead, the best sellers are people in the middle: “ambiverts.” Ambiverts know when to push and when to hold back. They’re versatile. The good news is, most of the population is made up of ambiverts.

Instead of worrying that you have the wrong personality type to be successful in sales (and if you want to know where you fall on the extroversion scale, take the assessment at danpink.com/assessment), you should focus on expertise, being a good problem solver and being more buoyant, Pink said.

3. Connect people to the WHY.

As sellers, bosses and teachers, we spend a lot of time focused on the HOW. But the evidence shows there’s a lot of persuasive oomph in the WHY. If people know why they’re doing something, they’re more likely to do it.

4. Give people an off-ramp.

When we try to explain, predict and interpret others’ behavior, we overweight their personality (who they are) and underweight their context (where they are). But if we want someone to do something, we don’t need to change who they are. We just need to make it easy for them to do.

His closing advice: All of these sales tips are really about one thing — being a little more human. A world where buyers have more information (without that information asymmetry) is a better world to live in.


Learning from Super Speakers in Super Sessions

After the keynote, in our morning Super Sessions, we heard from two leaders who are thinking about how business is changing — and how the best organizations will change and thrive.

How the Future of CRM Can Help Your Customers and Your Business — Kate Leggett, Forrester Research


Modern CRM strategies let you engage with customers on their terms over a range of social, digital, and mobile channels. They can help you leverage vast amounts of interaction and transaction data to add value for customers.

Leggett’s message: Customers want an incredible, customized experience from companies. They want companies to know who they are, what they’ve bought in the past, and how they’ve interacted with the company. They expect a differentiated experience, and providing those experiences is good for business and the bottom line.

It’s about making the customer’s life easy and valuing their time — about seeking opportunities to streamline the buying process and to make it as frictionless as possible.

A CRM platform can help provide those experiences, but only if you know how to get the data out of it and use those insights. When you’re buying a CRM platform, she says, ask how to use it to provide differentiated customer experiences. 

Innovative Leadership at a Growing Company — Susan Salka, AMN Healthcare


How do the best leaders dare to achieve success? They start by “showing up” – delivering value through their words, actions, and contributions, and by opening doors for others. AMN Healthcare President and CEO Susan Salka gave leaders eight tips she has learned throughout her career, both personally and professionally.

A few of our favorites:

  • Make it personal. Connect with your team on a personal level, and be willing to share a little bit about yourself. The more you can connect your organization’s work and mission to your personal life, the better.
  • Create a personal board of directors to push, challenge and support you.
  • Show up. Leaders need to be role models for participation. If you want your employees to show up for a charity event you’re sponsoring, all your leaders should be there, too. As a leader, make sure you’re setting the tone for the rest of your team.
 Thanks for making Engage 2016 great! Follow all of the Engage coverage on Twitter #BullhornEngage. 

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