On December 31, 2012, Daniel H. Pink released his new book, “To Sell Is Human-The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.” Pink is the bestselling author of “Drive,” and “A Whole New Mind.”
Pink’s declares that regardless of our career, today, we’re all in sales. Traditional selling involves convincing customers and prospects to make a purchase. “Non-sales selling” is Pink’s term for convincing, persuading, and influencing others to give up something they’ve got in exchange for what we’ve got. The concept applies to everybody, as parents cajole children, lawyers sell juries on a verdict and teachers sell students on the value of paying attention in class, to name a few.
Today, to succeed in selling requires a new mindset based on the revised ABCs of selling. Previously, the ABCs meant, “always be closing.” Now the ABCs embody attunement, buoyancy, and clarity. The following article highlights buoyancy.
Buoyancy “Anyone who sells-whether they’re trying to convince customers to make a purchase or colleagues to make a change-must contend with wave after wave of rebuffs, refusals, and repudiations,” Pink says. He refers to buoyancy as the ability to stay afloat amid an ocean of rejection. Apply buoyancy’s three components before, during, and after any effort to move others; and you can effectively use it in your own life:
1. Before: Interrogative Self-Talk. Sales and success gurus, including Og Mandino and Napoleon Hill espouse autosuggestion-tell yourself you can do it. Declare how fabulous and unstoppable you are, saying things like, “I will be the world’s greatest salesman the world has ever known.” Today’s social science says otherwise.
We can all learn from cartoon character Bob the Builder. Bob continually finds himself in sticky situations requiring traditional sales or non-sales selling. Like all of us, he talks to himself, but his self-talk is neither negative nor declarative. To move himself and his team he asks, “Can we fix it?”
True, positive self-talk generally trumps negative self-talk, but the most effective self-talk doesn’t merely shift emotions. It shifts linguistic categories. It moves from making statements to asking questions.
Studies show those approaching a task with Bob-the-Builder-style questioning self-talk outperform those using conventional pump-yourself-up, declarative self talk. The reasons are twofold.
First, interrogative self-talk prompts answers-and within those answers are strategies for carrying out the task. Asking yourself before an important meeting if you can make a great pitch forces you to look within. You’re apt to remember other times you successfully made pitches, as well as other reasons you’ll succeed vs. simply making affirmations, devoid of summoning the resources and strategies to accomplish the task.
Secondly, interrogative self-talk inspires thoughts about autonomous or intrinsically motivated reasons to pursue a goal. People are apt to act and perform well when motivation comes from intrinsic choices vs. extrinsic pressures. “Declarative self-talk risks bypassing one’s motivation’s,” Pink says.
2. During: Positivity Ratios. Positivity often elicits disdainful sighs, but it has its place on how we move others. Negotiation studies showed those who’d heard positive-inflected pitches were twice as likely to accept a deal vs. those who’d heard a negative one. Negativity also produced far less generous counteroffers.
Studies show positive emotions broaden people’s ideas about possible actions, expand our behavioral repertoires, and heighten intuition and creativity.
To move others, either in traditional sales or non-sales selling, you must believe in the product you’re selling and it must show.
Research revealed the sweet spot for positivity is a ratio of 3:1. For every three instances of feeling gratitude, interest, or contentment, and experiencing only one instance of anger, guilt, or embarrassment, people generally flourished.
Excessive positivity proves harmful too. Some negativity and negative emotions provide feedback on our performance, information on what’s working and what’s not; and hints about how to do better.
3. After: Explanatory Style. Explanatory style refers to self-talk that occurs after an experience. People who give up easily and become helpless, even in situations where they can do something, explain bad events as permanent, pervasive, and personal. Salespeople with an optimistic explanatory style had better productivity.
Once you’ve mastered attunement, buoyancy, and clarity, which show you how to be, you need to know what to do. Honing your pitch, learning how to improvise and serve complement your actions.
To monitor your positivity ratio, Pink suggests visiting Barbara Fredrickson’s website. There you can take her “Positivity Self Test”- a twenty-question assessment doable in two to three minutes that will yield your current positivity ratio. Visit: http://positivityratio.com/single.php.