The Art of Selling: 7 Key Insights from “To Sell Is Human”

Last updated on August 9, 2023

Selling is not just for those in sales positions.

In today’s world, we all engage in selling in some form. Whether it’s trying to convince a friend to try a new restaurant or persuading a client to invest in a new product.

And that’s why it’s important to understand the principles of influence and persuasion as described in “To Sell Is Human”.

Pink’s book offers a fresh take on selling while emphasizing the importance of empathy, storytelling, and likability.

So, are you ready to learn the art of selling?

Whether you’re in finance, or sales (or simply looking to improve your persuasion and negotiation skills) the insights provided are a must-read.

In this article, I’ll:

  • Go over the 7 key insights from this best-selling book
  • Provide tips and strategies (so you can put them into action)
  • Answer common questions in an easy-to-read FAQ
  • Present direct quotes from the book for inspiration
  • And much more

So, if you’re ready to master the art of selling β€” and take your financial skills to the next level β€” grab a pen and paper. And let’s dive in.


What you'll learn:

β“΅ Insight No.1: The concept of non-sales selling

Have you ever found yourself trying to convince someone (about anything)?

If so, you’re already engaging in selling.

The book “To Sell is Human” argues that everyone (not just salespeople) engages in selling in various forms β€” including influencing and persuading.

This means that selling isn’t just limited to traditional sales positions. But it’s an integral part of our daily lives.

This key insight is especially relevant in the world of money and finance. Whether you’re a financial advisor, a stockbroker, or simply looking to invest your own money, you need to be able to sell your ideas and convince others to invest in your recommendations.

The ability to influence and persuade is critical to success in the financial industry.

So, how can you put this insight into practice?

❖ Tips and strategies for applying non-sales selling

β—† Empathy

Put yourself in your client’s shoes and understand their needs, fears, and goals. This will help you tailor your approach and make your pitch more appealing.

β—† Storytelling

Use storytelling to bring your ideas to life and make them more relatable. People are more likely to invest in a product or service that they can connect with emotionally.

β—† Likability

People are more likely to invest in someone they like and trust. Focus on building rapport with your clients and making them feel comfortable.

These are just a few examples. And remember: selling isn’t just about pushing a product. Oh, no. It’s about understanding your client’s needs first. And then finding ways to meet those needs.

With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more effective seller and achieving success in your chosen industry.


β“Ά Insight No.2: The importance of attunement

To sell effectively, you need to understand the perspective of the person you’re trying to sell to.

This is where the concept of attunement comes into play. “To Sell Is Human” emphasizes the importance of attunement in selling, as it helps you tailor your approach. And make your pitch more appealing.

In the world of money and finance, attunement is even more critical. As a financial advisor, stockbroker, or individual investor, you need to be able to understand your client’s financial goals and objectives.

By attuning to their needs and perspective, you can create a tailored investment plan that meets their specific requirements.

So, how can you put this insight into practice?

❖ Tips and strategies for attunement

β—† Listen

Pay close attention to what your client is saying and ask questions to better understand their needs and concerns.

β—† Research

Take the time to research your client’s financial history, goals, and investment preferences. This will give you a better understanding of their perspective and help you tailor your approach.

β—† Adapt

Be flexible and willing to adapt your approach based on your client’s needs and feedback.

By practicing attunement, you’ll be able to create a plan tailored to your client’s needs, offer a better service, and build a stronger relationship with them.

And remember: it’s not about pushing your own agenda. It’s always about understanding the needs and goals of the person you’re selling to.


β“· Insight No.3: The power of likability

According to “To Sell Is Human”, people are more likely to buy from someone they like and trust.

That makes sense, right?

This is where the power of likability comes into play. Building rapport and establishing a connection with your clients is crucial in sales.

Related:  10 Powerful Sales Lessons From "The 3-Minute Rule"

And this is especially true in the world of finance. For example, investors want to work with someone they feel comfortable with and trust to handle their finances.

By being likable and building a strong rapport with your clients, you can increase the likelihood of them choosing to invest with you (or buy any of your services).

So, how can you put this insight into practice?

❖ Tips for building likability

β—† Be authentic

People can tell when you’re being genuine, so be yourself and let your personality shine through.

β—† Listen

Show your clients that you’re interested in them by actively listening to what they have to say.

β—† Be helpful

Offer valuable insights and advice, even if it doesn’t directly benefit you.

By being likable and building strong relationships with your clients, you can increase your chances of making successful sales (in any industry).

Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine and connect with your clients on a personal level.


β“Έ Insight No.4: The three A’s of influence

In “To Sell Is Human”, Pink introduces the three elements of influence (attention, ability, and affinity).

This framework provides a useful way to think about how to effectively influence and persuade others.

When it comes to sales and finance, the three A’s of influence are especially important. Let’s break each of these down:

❖ Attention

Attention is all about capturing the attention of your audience.

To do this, you need to present your information in a clear, concise, and engaging way. This might mean using visual aids, storytelling, or simply speaking in a way that is easy to understand.

Additionally, it’s important to keep your audience engaged throughout your presentation by asking questions, encouraging interaction, and keeping things moving.

❖ Ability

Ability is about demonstrating that you have the expertise and knowledge necessary to help your audience achieve their goals.

In the finance industry, this might mean showing your knowledge of the market, financial products, and regulations.

It’s also important to communicate your professional qualifications and experience. Demonstrating your ability gives your audience confidence that you are the right person to help them achieve their financial goals.

❖ Affinity

Affinity is about building a strong connection and rapport with your audience.

This means taking the time to get to know them. Understanding their needs and desires. And building a relationship based on trust and likability.

In the finance industry, this might mean asking questions, listening actively, and finding common ground. When your audience feels a sense of trust and likability towards you, they are more likely to be influenced by you and more likely to choose to work with you.

❖ Practical tips and strategies to apply the 3 A’s

β—† Attention

  • Use visual aids (charts, graphs, and slides) to help capture your audience’s attention and make your information easier to understand.
  • Use storytelling to make your information more engaging and memorable.
  • Speak clearly and in a conversational tone to keep your audience engaged.
  • Ask questions and encourage interaction to keep your audience engaged and interested.

β—† Ability

  • Demonstrate your expertise by sharing your professional qualifications and experience.
  • Share relevant statistics, research, and data to support your ideas.
  • Offer examples and case studies to show how you have helped others in the past.
  • Use simple language to explain complex financial concepts in a way that is easy to understand.

β—† Affinity

  • Take the time to get to know your audience and understand their needs and desires.
  • Build rapport by finding common ground and showing empathy.
  • Listen actively and ask questions to build trust and establish a connection.
  • Use humor and light-hearted anecdotes to build a connection and make your audience feel comfortable.

By focusing on these tips and strategies, you can increase your chances of influencing and persuading your audience (no matter the industry).

Whether you’re selling a product (or simply offering a service), these strategies will help you to build trust, establish a connection, and influence your audience.


β“Ή Insight No.5: The use of storytelling

In “To Sell Is Human,” Daniel H. Pink emphasizes the importance of storytelling in sales.

He argues that storytelling can be a highly effective way to engage, persuade, and connect with others.

By using a well-crafted story, salespeople can help their prospects see the value of their product (or service) and build rapport and trust. And ultimately, close the deal.

❖ Tips and strategies for incorporating storytelling into your sales approach

β—† Identify your story

Before you can tell a story, you need to identify the story you want to tell.

This could be a personal story about a time you helped a client. A case study about a successful investment. Or a fictional story that highlights a common problem faced by your target audience.

β—† Make it relatable

The key to an effective story is to make it relatable to your audience. Find common ground and use details and examples that resonate with them.

β—† Use emotional appeals

People make decisions based on emotions, and storytelling is a great way to evoke emotions.

Use your story to evoke positive emotions (hope, excitement, or inspiration) that can help your audience connect with your product or service.

β—† Practice

Storytelling takes practice. So don’t be afraid to experiment with different stories and delivery styles until you find what works best for you.


β“Ί Insight No.6: The role of interest and curiosity

In “To Sell is Human,” Daniel H. Pink emphasizes the role of interest and curiosity in selling.

According to Pink, being genuinely interested in the person you’re selling to can help build rapport and establish a connection. Hence making it easier to engage, persuade, and sell to them.

This key insight can be especially relevant in the world of finance, where building trust and establishing a connection with clients can be crucial in making sales and investments.

Related:  6 Principles from "How to Win Friends & Influence People"

❖ Tips and strategies

β—† Ask questions

Ask open-ended questions that show you are interested in the person you are selling to. And listen actively to their answers.

This can help you understand their needs, preferences, and perspectives. Which, in turn, can be valuable information for your sales pitch.

β—† Show empathy

Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. And understand their situation from their perspective. This can help you build rapport and establish a connection with them.

β—† Be genuinely curious

Instead of approaching a sales pitch with a preconceived notion of what the other person needs or wants, approach it with a genuine sense of curiosity.

This can help you find out more about the person you are selling to. And tailor your pitch to their specific needs and preferences.

β—† Keep learning

Stay informed about the industry, the products you are selling. And the people you are selling to.

This can help you be more interested and curious about the people you are selling to. And make it easier to connect with them and sell to them.

By applying these tips and strategies, you can use your interest and curiosity to make a more effective sales pitch. Build stronger relationships with your clients. And succeed.


β“» Insight No.7: The importance of autonomy

In “To Sell is Human,” Daniel H. Pink argues that giving the customer control and autonomy in the sales process is crucial to making a successful sale.

When a customer feels like they have control and are making their own decisions, they are more likely to be confident in their purchase (and feel satisfied with the outcome).

One practical tip for applying this key insight is to present options and allow the customer to make the final decision.

For example, instead of dictating a specific product or solution, present a few options and let the customer choose the one that best fits their needs and preferences.

This approach shows that you value their opinion and gives them the power to make their own decision (which can increase buyer satisfaction).

Another strategy is to use open-ended questions and active listening skills.

By asking questions and truly listening to the customer’s needs and concerns, you can tailor your approach to their specific situation. And give them the feeling that their opinion (and input) is valued.

Finally, it’s important to avoid using high-pressure tactics or trying to force a sale. This can create a negative customer experience and decrease the chances of making a successful sale.

Instead, focus on building trust and rapport with the customer first. And then let them make their own informed decision.


β“Ό How to improve your sales skills

Follow the 7 steps below:

❖ Step 1

Embrace the concept of non-sales selling and start seeing selling as a form of influencing and persuading in all aspects of your life.

❖ Step 2

Work on attuning to the perspective of the person you are selling to and understand their needs, wants, and challenges.

❖ Step 3

Focus on building rapport, being likable, and establishing a connection with the person you are selling to.

❖ Step 4

Use the three A’s of influence – attention, ability, and affinity – to engage and persuade your customers.

❖ Step 5

Master the art of storytelling and use it as a tool to connect, engage, and persuade.

❖ Step 6

Cultivate a genuine interest and curiosity in the person you are selling to and show that you are invested in their success.

❖ Step 7

Allow your customers to have control in the sales process and empower them to make their own decisions.


β“½ Other important lessons from “To Sell Is Human”

In “To Sell Is Human,” Daniel H. Pink provides a comprehensive overview of the art and science of selling.

While the seven key insights discussed above are some of the most important, there are many other valuable lessons to be learned from this book.

For example:

The importance of empathy: Pink highlights the power of empathy in selling and argues that truly understanding the perspective and needs of the customer is crucial in making a sale.

The role of trust: Trust is a critical component in selling. And Pink discusses the importance of building and maintaining trust in your relationships with customers.

The power of questions: Pink emphasizes the importance of asking open-ended questions in order to understand the customer and to guide the conversation in a productive direction.

The impact of timing: Pink argues that timing can be a crucial factor in selling, and that understanding the right moment to make a pitch or close a sale is key.

The importance of active listening: Pink stresses the importance of active listening in sales, as it allows you to understand the customer’s needs and build rapport.

These lessons, along with the seven key insights, provide a comprehensive understanding of the art and science of selling.

To get started on improving your sales skills and applying these insights, start by reading “To Sell Is Human” and reflecting on the lessons that resonate with you the most.

Try to apply these lessons in your own selling scenarios. And track your results (adjusting your approach as needed).

With practice and dedication, you can become an expert in the art of selling and achieve success in your chosen industry.


β“Ύ Top 10 inspirational quotes from “To Sell Is Human”

“Selling is no longer just what salespeople do. It’s what we all do.”

β€” Daniel H. Pink

“Everyone is in sales now.”

β€” Daniel H. Pink

“It’s not about asking for the sale; it’s about asking for the commitment.”

β€” Daniel H. Pink

“The best pitch is not the one with the most words but the one with the most impact.”

β€” Daniel H. Pink

“Rapport is not rapport until the other person feels it.”

β€” Daniel H. Pink

“Empathy isn’t just an emotional response, it’s an intellectual process.”

β€” Daniel H. Pink

“Interest generates interest.”

β€” Daniel H. Pink

“Persuasion is about starting where people are, not where you are.”

β€” Daniel H. Pink

“The best way to sell is to help.”

β€” Daniel H. Pink

“Salesmanship is less about the products you sell and more about the stories you tell.”

β€” Daniel H. Pink

β‘ͺ Best 7 FAQ from “To Sell Is Human”

How does “To Sell Is Human” redefine the concept of selling?

Related:  Built to Sell Summary (3 Must-Know Lessons)

In the book, author Daniel H. Pink argues that selling is no longer just about selling products. But rather about influencing and persuading others.

He highlights that everyone β€” not just salespeople β€” engages in selling in various forms. And that the concept of non-sales selling is now more relevant than ever.

What is the role of attunement in selling?

Pink emphasizes the importance of understanding and relating to the perspective of the person you are trying to sell to, which he calls attunement.

He argues that attunement is crucial in selling as it helps build rapport and establish a connection with the person you are selling to.

Why is likability so important in sales?

According to Pink, people are more likely to buy from someone they like and trust. So building rapport (and establishing a connection) is crucial in sales.

He argues that likability is a key factor in successful selling, as it can greatly influence the outcome of a sales interaction.

How can storytelling be used to sell?

Pink highlights the power of storytelling in sales, as it can be a highly effective way to engage, persuade, and connect with others.

He argues that incorporating storytelling into sales interactions can help build rapport, increase likability, and increase the chances of a successful sale.

What is the importance of being genuinely interested and curious about the person you are selling to?

Pink argues that being genuinely interested and curious about the person you are selling to can be a powerful tool in selling.

He highlights that showing genuine interest and curiosity can help build meaningful relationships and thus boost sales.

Why is giving the customer control in the sales process so important?

Pink stresses the importance of giving the customer control in the sales process and allowing them to make their own decisions.

He argues that giving the customer control can increase their satisfaction with the sales process, increase the chances of a successful sale, and lead to better customer relationships in the long run.

How can one apply the insights from “To Sell Is Human” in their own sales and business practices?

The book provides many practical tips and strategies for improving your sales skills. Including using storytelling, practicing attunement, building rapport, and giving the customer control in the sales process.

By applying these insights, you can improve your sales skills and achieve better results in your sales and business practices.


β‘« Top 8 tips to consider when applying the principles from “To Sell Is Human”

Know your audience: Understanding the needs, wants, and motivations of your potential customers are critical to successful selling.

This can be achieved by researching your target market and gathering information about them.

Build rapport: Building trust and rapport with your potential customers is key to establishing a connection and closing the sale.

This can be achieved through active listening, understanding their perspective, and being genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Be persuasive, not pushy: Successful selling requires a delicate balance of influence and persuasion.

Be confident in your pitch. But avoid being pushy or aggressive. Let your potential customers make their own decisions, and always respect their choices.

Use storytelling: Storytelling can be a powerful tool in sales, as it helps to engage, persuade, and connect with your potential customers.

Find relevant stories that demonstrate the benefits of your product or service, and share them in a compelling way.

Show your expertise: Demonstrating your knowledge and expertise in your field can build credibility. And help you stand out from the competition.

Share your experience and skills with your potential customers, and show them why you are the best person to help them.

Ask questions: Asking questions is a great way to gather information, show interest in your potential customers, and build rapport. Try to ask open-ended questions, and actively listen to their responses.

Be creative: Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to selling. Try new approaches, test different strategies, and always be willing to experiment and learn from your successes and failures.

Continuously improve: Successful selling requires ongoing learning and improvement. Keep up-to-date with the latest sales techniques, read relevant books and articles, and seek out opportunities for training and development.


⑬ Further reading

Each of these books provides additional perspectives and strategies for improving your ability to sell and influence others.

“Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini: This book provides a comprehensive understanding of the six principles of influence. Including reciprocity, commitment, and consistency. Social proof, authority, and liking.

“Spin Selling” by Neil Rackham: This book is based on research that shows that the most successful salespeople use a different approach than their less successful peers. It introduces the SPIN selling model, which stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-Payoff.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie: This classic book offers practical advice on how to make friends and influence people. Including techniques for making others feel important and handling complaints.

“Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath: This book explores why some ideas “stick” while others don’t and offers strategies for creating ideas that are memorable, simple, and credible.

“Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High” by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler: This book teaches how to handle conversations about high-stakes, emotional, or controversial topics. And how to reach an agreement and resolve conflicts in the workplace or personal life.


Final thoughts

In every conversation, one is selling and the other is buying. We constantly buy or sell ideas.

And this is why we use the idiom “I’m not buying it” when we don’t believe someone.

to sell is human explains that in every conversation someone is buying or selling an idea
Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

“To Sell Is Human” by Daniel H. Pink is a must-read book for anyone interested in sales, marketing, or business. It provides a fresh and insightful look at the art of selling, highlighting the key elements that are crucial for success.

Whether you’re in the financial industry, run a business, or simply want to improve your sales skills, the insights from this book will be invaluable.

By understanding the importance of attunement, likability, the three A’s of influence, storytelling, interest and curiosity, and autonomy, you can develop a sales approach that is both effective and ethical.

So, if you’re looking to boost your sales skills, consider picking up a copy of “To Sell Is Human.”

And don’t forget: you don’t have to be pushy. You just need to align your goals with your client’s goals. And help them achieve theirs. And only then you’ll achieve yours.


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Pavlos Written by:

Hey β€” It’s Pavlos. Just another human sharing my thoughts on all things money. Nothing more, nothing less.