Pink: Buoyancy

Here we go with round 4 of our deconstruction of Dan Pink’s book “To Sell is Human”! Only 6 more after this!

Remember the starting point for selling? The starting point is seeing things from your client’s perspective. This enables us to see and understand their problems (not just “feel their pain”).  Without this, any conversation that we have will be “hit or miss”. Maybe it will be helpful and maybe not. And we know from Peter Drucker that we cannot improve on “hit or miss”.

This is a good start. But we can take a second step in our thinking about this problem solving process. To sell an idea or a product or service, we need to have a conversation about those problems. NOT a conversation about what we are selling. The client needs a conversation about what the client well get out of the sale. Here is the challenge that we face. People are not about to suddenly open up and talk about their problems with just anyone. It turns out that they are more likely to do so to you if they sense your “buoyancy”. They need to sense that you can float on the water – and will not sink under the weight of problems.

Here is the key metric – The more buoyant we are, the better we can sell. And we can practice this.

Dan offers 3 key ways.

1. Before any conversation – check if you are in an “asserting” mood or in a “questioning” mood. The more you are in an asserting mood, the more fragile you will be and less buoyant. Being ready to ask questions makes us more buoyant. And the best question of all “Can we fix this?” That is the question you want to ask yourself before you start the conversation.

2. During any conversation – check how “positive” you are being. We need to help our client keep an open mind. And we need to show our client that we have an open mind. Open mindedness is closely connected with being positive. And psychologists tell us that we need to maintain a 3 positive to every 1 negative ratio to keep an open mind. Keep track of this ratio when you are speaking.

2. After a failed conversation — that’s right, after failure — we need to avoid certain traps. The first one is taking the failure personally. That is never worth it. We also need to avoid thinking that the failure was due to some universal problem. Every problem has a solution.  Third we need to avoid thinking that the problem is permanent. Time cures all. The less to avoid these three P’s (personal, pervasive, permanent) is worth keeping in your “back pocket”. See if you can catch yourself falling into one of these traps the next time that you fail.

These are the tools to stay “buoyant”. And they help us build resilience is ourselves and in our relationships. We may bend in a strong wind, but we will not break.

But there is one more measure of our effectiveness and it is the answer to this question – can we produce clarity? That is next.



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