Tiimiakatemia on Jyväskylän Ammattikorkeakoulun yrittäjyyden huippuyksikkö

To sell is human

Kirjoitettu 16.02.20
Esseen kirjoittaja: Liisa Jamsa
Kirjapisteet: 3
Kirja: To sell is human
Kirjan kirjoittaja: Daniel H. Pink
Kategoriat: 6.1. Asiakkuuden työkalut, 6.2. Myynnin ja markkinointiviestinnän taidot ja työkalut

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Selling, essentially, is about moving others. Sometimes ourselves, if we need to drag our asses to the gym.

Selling, unlike I have always thought, isn’t about making others do as we please – that would be manipulating. No wonder I’ve always been to reluctant to even try selling. I should have read this book a long time ago.

The book is divided into two parts: how to be, and what to do. How to be contains listening, asking the right questions and staying strong even when repeatedly rejected. The “what to do” includes lessons about improvisation, pitching and serving.

Only now do I realize how many things require selling. I want my mother to eat less sugar. I need the restless younger student to stay still and focus on studying. I want my team to join me for a run in the forest. All of these situations need selling.


My approach has changed dramatically. Previously it would have gone like this. I would come up with an awful sales pitch, full of fake confidence. Then I would probably turn red and then stammer out the pitch and panic through it. The content would be “why I am the best and what kind of problems you have that I’ll fix”. Then I would promise myself never ever to sell again, because I’m bad at it.

So how would I do it now?

Well, performing, of course, is always a different thing and I don’t even dare to think about that yet. But one on one sales occasion, me and the prospect, that I might tackle. The right kind of approach is to listen first. Try to find the customer’s problem. They might not even know it yet.

I have always been poor at listening. It’s not because I’m selfish in an evil way, but because I don’t trust myself to do a good job especially when trying to convince someone. So all my energy goes to listening to myself.

Managing to dig out the problem from a reluctant prospective is not easy though. Asking the right questions will do it, but that isn’t easy either. The book shows us the way, but won’t guide us all the way. This is something I’ll have to learn by doing, since the process depends heavily on the recipient and what is being sold.

In conclusion, there’s no one right way to sell. But listening is definitely step one.

The second step is kind of ironic. How to keep on selling, when you get rejected so much. In the book it’s called the sea of rejection and apparently it’s inevitable. I’m mortified since I’ve always, however unconsciously, tried to avoid rejection at all cost. I take it deeply personally for some reason and I believe it to be my greatest challenge in my career.

Optimistic way of thinking

You don’t have to love everything to be an optimist. There’s no positive or negative. There are things happening and reasons for them. How should we approach things, to be the most successful?

This lesson is so good! Something everyone needs to learn. It is a sustainable source of confidence, meaning you can always believe in abilities without anyone cheerleading you on. The author refers to studies about how successful people tend to think. There are many ways to reason the things that happen to us.

Do you ever tell yourself “I can do this!”? Well, it might not be the most effective way to gain confidence. Turns out, there’s a strategy called “interrogative self-talk”, which scores above other ways of talking to yourself. It means that you should instead ask yourself: “Can I do this?”. The chances are, you start rationalizing why indeed you can do it. You will also come up with some if’s, that will enlighten what you have to do to succeed.

Here are some real life, spontaneous examples.

Can I sell new websites to people on the phone tomorrow?

Yes I can, if I call enough people. It’s unlikely that it’s because of a poor sales pitch, it they are not interested at all. I will sell, if I have all the information available for them to offer, such as the pricing and what exactly I’m offering.

Can I stop eating too much sugar?

Yes I can, if I prepare some healthier snacks before getting the cravings. I can bring apples to Team Academy and fill my fridge with carrots. All I need to do is to go to the store tomorrow.

Can I make people come to kehitysforum (developing team academy group discussion) on Wednesday?

Yes I can, if I give the information in person rather than an indifferent group message.

All of those problems were real acute problems that I just managed to solve by asking that question. Another technique is for the after the selling. When you’re already so rejected that you start losing your faith to yourself and your skills. Ouch.

This one has three questions to ask yourself.

Is this permanent?

No, I failed because I have never done this before.

Will this happen all the time?

No, the person who jelled me on the phone might have just had a sleepless night.

Is this personal?

No, even if my pitch had been impeccable, this just might not have been the best time for them to buy.

So as you can see, these occurrences are not a valid reason to quit the selling process. Asking these questions  give us faith to carry on. A wonderful idea is to frame the rejections as accomplishments, and celebrate the fact we’ve survived them and still going strong.

How to make things more appealing to the customer?

Before internet, we could offer the customer information about a product. This is still often the case, but it’s not enough when the customer isn’t 100% sure of their own needs.

Research has shown a few facts about customer behaviour.

  1. Too many options make people buy drastically less. This is useful to me since I love creating new variations of a product. I should see the whole picture and think whether the innovation is needed or not.
  2. People value experience over products. I should emphasize the memory the Saunaraft will give to customers and their friends.
  3. The label effect. If I’d make a sign saying “Team academy students are the most responsible of all Jamk” and placed it in the kitchen, where there’s often a mess, science claims the students would start to act more responsibly.
  4. Make good even better by admitting some minor flaw. Good alone can seem suspicious. But apparently this only works for a less focused audience. Especially good tip for selling used stuff online.



There’s a term called upsell. It means trying to get the customer to buy more. All the suggestions at the check-out of an ecommerce as well as all the candy bars by the register are doing exactly that.

Then there’s a term called upserve. It means giving the customer the service they didn’t even expect. Going the extra step, without expecting anything in return. This might not make you rich right away, but it will definitely make the customer come again.

Another thing to think about while talking to a customer – what would you offer, if she was your own grandmother? How would you treat her?

Show them meaning

The author proves, by using a plethora of examples, how people have an innate desire to do good. Oftentimes the ways we want to move people result in actually making someone’s life better. It’s my job, as the salesman, to provide them with the right perspective.

Would you like to buy a ticket for a cruise with a sauna? Or would you like to offer your friend this relaxing experience, since they’ve been stressed out and unhappy lately?

Can you please clean up after yourself? Or could you clean up after yourself, so that others can enjoy their day as well?

Can you feel the difference?

Selling needs to be a way of life

Ability to sell is a crucial element in success.

Anyone, that wants something to happen need to know a thing or two about it. One cannot simply do everything alone, and getting help is also a thing you have to sell for. How much more powerful and effective can you be, if others are doing things for you?

In a way, it’s also relevant in teamwork. Our team, consisting of 13 very different people, have it hard making decisions together. Our preferences differ. Our values, our fears. Somethings that excite some, terrify others.

I am not going to trick or manipulate others to sell them my ideas. I’m going to listen carefully, and try to understand their perspective, and find the need. I can show them why a thing is meaningful to me, hoping to get a compromise on something that’s very important to me.

And if I fail, I dig into the real reason why it happened instead of starting to hate my beloved team.

I feel like I have all the tools that I need.

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