To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink

Chris Woodall | 2022-08-24

To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink posits that selling is not some scummy thing car salesmen do, instead, it is a core part of being human. In the modern world, we are all salespeople of our craft, we are all engaged in non-sales selling every day: convincing our partner to go to see a specific movie, dating, and convincing our boss to give us a new project. Whatever it is we are in the role of a salesperson every day, whether we like it or not. If we are in this role why not embrace it? So what do we need to do to embrace it? We need to develop the following traits:


How do we key into what other people want? What do they need? What can you do for them? Attunement is all about creating alignment between your value and other people’s wants, needs and goals. Dan recommends practicing some level of mimicry in this chapter, essentially to put yourself in the shoes of others.


How do we keep on chugging in a world of “NO”? By refocusing ourselves on “interrogative self-talk” (Can I move these people? Can I bring value to this relationship?), over positive pump (I WILL move these people, I WILL bring value to this relationship), or negative self-talk (these people are impossible to move) we can remain buoyant. Keeping a positive mindset, while staying grounded in reality, let’s us improve from a place of confidence, and keep a little “fire” in there too. The biggest takeaway for me was to make sure that failures are learned from, and kept impermanent, specific and non-personal. So rather than thinking: “This industry is impossible to deal with. I am a failure forever, and this person hates me”; you should challenge it with: “This person is having a bad day, I didn’t get enough sleep so I am off of my game. I will do some prep work on this industry and understand what problems they are having.”


We are curators of information, not hoarders of information in this modern era. Everyone has access to most of the same information, so the real question is: How do we find the right problems, then **curate our knowledge to help others and provide value?

And then Dan recommends the following skills for us to practice in our daily, and sales lives:

The Pitch:

Dan recommends having about 6 pitches available and to keep refining them over time.

  1. The One-Word Pitch: What makes everything you are talking about tick
  2. The Question Pitch: Let people come to your conclusion on their own
  3. The Rhyming Pitch: Things that rhyme, stay over time.
  4. Subject Line Pitch: How do you hook someone in an email?
  5. Twitter Pitch: Keep it short, ask the opinions of followers, and make connections.
  6. Pixar Pitch: Once upon a time X, Everyday Y. One day Z, Because of that A, Because of that B. Until finally C!


Selling is about offering, and playing with the offers of others. Improvisation is about listening.


Concentrate on how you can help others. Being service driven is more effective and more productive.

Final Thoughts

I was skeptical that I would enjoy this book up front, but I found that already it has helped me shift my thinking around selling and communication. I can be a firehose of information sometimes. I like to lay out all of the details and the reasoning, but this is overwhelming for myself and others. Ultimately it can be a lazy way to communicate, and instead concentrating on Clarity, and concepts of sales can help me refine my presentations, pitches, documentation, and interactions in life. The goal is not to hide, or shift information, but rather to stay relevant and serve others; if you profit along the way, achieve your goals, and live a happy life all the better.