Notes from To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink

My personal notes taken while reading To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink.

  • We all sell. Sellers and buyers have access to roughly the same info. Buyers are not as informed in and idealized what experts think, but the balance has shifted.
  • Anyone can master the basics of moving others.
  • Attunement, buoyancy, clarity. These are the requirements for moving people.
  • Attunement is about locking in on with what’s being transmitted. I.e. being in tune with others.

Buoyancy hinges on 3 principles:

  1. Increase power by reducing it. A study where people were given a slight sense of power and then asked to do the E test (snap five times then write e on forehead) where more likely to write the letter e gave themselves. Thus reducing their ability to a tune to others. IOW be humble and you will be in tune. It is not about being a pushover or sacrificing more than needed.
  2. Use your head as much as your heart. Feeling and emotion are critical. Perspective, imagine what the other is thinking vs what they’re feeling. It will help you better negotiate deals.
  3. Mimic strategically. It’s social glue, when you mimic others. Be subtle when mimicking others. You’ll be more likely to create a deal that benefits both parties. Mimic carefully and wait 10sec before doing so. Touching is mimicking seconds cousin. Percentage of closing jumps when buyers are lightly touched and quality perception goes up too. Atonement is about being human.

Introverts, Extroverts, and Ambiverts

  • There is no evidence to suggest extroverts are better at sales than introverts.
  • Ambiverts perform the best. People right in the middle of extroversion and introversion.
  • Extroverts are too aggressive and bug people to much. Introverts, not enough.
  • Ambiverts know the balance of knowing when to listen and when to speak up.
  • Most people are ambiverts.

Getting the Conversation Rolling

“Where are you from?”

  • This is a great opener for meeting someone new. It’s open and triggers more questions. Some say where they were born and some where they work.

Stay buoyant in a sea of nos

We talk to ourselves all the time. Some is critical some is positive.

Be like Bob the Builder. He is always in predicaments but asks “can we fix it?”


This shifts the linguistic category. Self questions help solve 50% more of the puzzle and beats declarative talk.

E.g. “Can I make a good pitch?” “Can I close the deal?”

Your mind digs deep for the answer. Positivity is key.

Find problems

Good sales people find problems by asking questions and digging deep. Their goal is to understand customer workflow and their pains.

Compare and contrast

More choice will get more visitors in the door but fewer sales.

Limited selection gets 30% sales while huge selection gets 3% sales.

Focus on what a potential customer’s life will be like with new product or service.

E.g. Cars = freedom to go on trips and visiting old friends and family.

Experiences are easy for customers to talk about and spread.

Perception is reality

Blemishes can boost perception. They make things see and feel genuine and human.

When selling your self, place emphasize on your potential. Do not focus on what you have done but what you will accomplish. (This is a good tip for when on job interviews, when leveling up your career, or when selling your service to potential clients.)

Ask irrational or misdirecting questions. Do not ask binary/yes-no questions.

If you can sense a potential customer has a faint desire to buy, ask them to rate their desire on a scale from 1 to 10. Then ask why number isn’t lower.

This forces them to question their own motives and therefore they’ll be more likely to buy.

Rhyming helps people understand your offering. It’s also makes it easier for them to compare you with competitors and describe to others.


People operate in two modes when deciding what emails to open:

  1. Utility. Work email from known people such as coworkers and customers.
  2. Curiosity. When people have downtime or are looking for a distraction.

Blank subject lines can be good sometimes.

A subject line that is specific to the topic of the email is best. E.g.

  • “Things I learned about marketing” – Perform well when inbox is light.
  • “3 tips on getting your email read” – Perform well when inbox is heavy.

Review your inbox to research good and bad email subjects lines.

Social media

There are 4 types of tweets:

  1. Me now – E.g. “I’m eating sushi!”
  2. Maintenance – E.g. “Good morning, everyone.”
  3. Complaints – E.g. “My Uber is late!”
  4. Questions – E.g. “What’s the best sushi restaurant in Boston?”

Tweets with questions rate the highest. As well as those with useful information and links.

Pitching your product or service

Get your pitch from a paragraph to a few sentences to a sentence to a few words to one word.

Anchor you company to one word. Search=Google

When crating your sales pitch, answer what you want them to: (Strong answers will lead to stronger pitch):

  1. Know
  2. Feel
  3. Do

Salesmen are good at improv. This means they are good at listening.

Listening means attunement. It does not mean predicting the response. It’s about listening and understanding the conversation based on what is said.

Pay attention to others when they pitch. Practice. Act like an artist. Practice, again and again.

Yes and no

Get used to saying “yes, and…” rather than “yes, but…”

E.g. don’t say “yes, but how will people who can’t afford the conference attend?”

Rather, say “yes, and people who can’t afford to attend we will host a fundraiser.”

Yes people get to bask in new experiences, no people get to bask in their safety.

“No” is rare. “No I can’t invest now.”

“Now” is an offer. Hook on to it. “When will you be ready?” Or “what holding you back right now?”

Servant selling

Serve first, sell last.

Set out to make it so other benefit first, then sell.

It’s about them not you.

You need commitment that product offers more and is altruistically good so much so that the cost is minimal to the value.

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