Dan Pink, New York Times best selling author of To Sell is Human, discusses the power of sales and why most people have the ability to become master sales people even if they believe selling is not for them. He also breaks down the science behind perfect timing and why small wins everyday are more powerful than the occasional home run when it comes to business development.
Dan Pink tells the story of how he first became a New York Times best selling author and how even successful authors encounter self doubt. Snowballs can be both good and bad. An emotional cascade with small things going wrong consistently creates a negative momentum that can completely derail your life. Everybody struggles in some way. Writing a book is extremely difficult and everyday the Resistance is there trying to prevent you from doing what you know you should do. Dan keeps a card on his desk with the words “Beat the resistance” to keep him motivated. When you’re in a hybrid sales and business development role it becomes very easy to fall back on the delivery work and let the resistance to focus on business development beat you. We’re all in sales in some sense, whether we like it or not. The common perception of selling is that it’s duplicitous or underhanded, but research shows that effective selling is nothing of the sort. We are now in a world of information parity where buyers and sellers have the same information, instead of the information asymmetry of the past. In the B2B sales world, buyers are gathering more information before ever talking to anyone in sales. There is a premium on expertise as well, with B2B sales basically boiling down to management consulting. The world of B2B sales has become much more intellectually sophisticated and draws on a whole array of different skills. Gone are the days where a good handshake and a good golf game could close a deal. Leadership literature in the 1970’s changed the way we think about leaders and introduced the idea of servant leaders, this idea applies to the best sellers as well. Servant sellers serve first and sell next, and by serving customers first it gives you legitimacy to sell and solve their problems. People often believe that sales skills are inherent in some people who are born with it. Research shows that being extroverted is not the only way to be able to sell. Introversion and extroversion is a spectrum and people on both extremes were found to be ineffective salespeople. The best salespeople are a mix of both. People who are the most extroverted were poor at sales because they talked too much and listened too little. The idea that strong extroverts make better sales people is not true. Most of us are in the middle of the bell curve of introversion/extroversion which means most people have the native personality to be good at sales. The distribution varies a little bit by culture, but the vast majority of people fall in the middle of the curve. There aren’t any massive differences between cultures that makes sales an unreachable skill. Our cognitive abilities are not equal over the course of a day and we tend to move through the day in three stages: peak, trough, and recovery. Your peak is the best time for analytic work and high focus activity. The trough results in a considerable drop in performance across the board, and your recovery time is best for insight work. Most people should be doing analytic work in the morning, routine and administrative reports in the middle of the day, and insight work during the evening. For people in a hybrid role, this schedule can be optimized to fit their goals. There are individual variations in the optimal schedule but there are general rules that almost everybody can use to make the best use of their time. If you’re looking to better connect with your clients, Dan’s book A Whole New Mind is a great place to start. If you want to think about what motivates others and building a team, Drive is the book to get. If you want to