Pink: Offering Clarity

Ready for round 5 of Dan Pink’s book “To Sell is Human?”? – Only 5 more rounds after this!

A quick reminder, Are you feeling buoyant today? I hope so. Practice (1) preparing to question rather than assert (2) using the 3 to 1 positive to negative ratio and (3) avoiding the 3 p’s after failure —- this helps me a lot!

Now we move on to one more key metric that can help us increase our capacity to persuade others. We have talked about the ABC’s of sales – Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. The third is “producing clarity”. How do you do that?

The phrase “producing clarity” may sound a bit odd at first. Aren’t things already clear? Why do we have to PRODUCE clarity? The answer may surprise you. Psychologists tell us that based on their research, we (as humans) see what we want to believe. It is a fundamental aspect of being human. Our beliefs — not necessarily reality — drive us. That is great if our beliefs have a strong basis in fact. Like eons ago when we believed we were in danger from that drooling saber toothed tiger giving us the hairy eyeball right around lunch time. But in modern times, the saber tooth tigers are largely gone. In their place we see symbols of order and control. Our beliefs may not be so well grounded in repeated fact experience.

This leads to two challenges. First, can we see beyond the symbols? And second, how do we choose what to look for (as we physically cannot see everything anyway)?  It is precisely to meet these challenges, that we need to produce clarity. And it is a great service when we can do this for others.  It helps us all to see things that are just beyond the end of our noses.

So how do we do it? What metrics do we use to increase our capacity to produce clarity?

First we need to understand what it means to “see” something. We think that we see things individually. In fact, we see most clearly in terms of contrasts. We don’t see black without white. We don’t see good without evil. We don’t see freedom without oppression. So to produce clarity, we need to create useful contrasts, or in other words to “frame” the thing we want to talk about.

So, how do we frame things? Our clients feel their problems the same way our ancestors felt the presence of that drooling saber tooth tiger. Problems take us out of our comfort zone. That is the opening we need as sellers to create a frame – to help see that problem in perspective. So our frame starts with talk about the client’s experience. And we contrast that talk with something the client can do to get to the next step in transcending that experience. That is the key contrast – from problem to transcending the problem.

This is how framing works. Here are a few guideposts

1. less is better – the more “clutter” in our selling, the less people will see anything. Good framing reduces choices to one or two.

2. sell in terms of the experience offered by the solution — not the tool that produces the experience. People feel the experience not the idea.

3. talk in terms of potential rather than present reality. Potential is exciting, reality less so. That is one reason we love looking at children.

4. really great things can have small defects – like the slight leather discoloration in the driver’s seat of the Ferrari. So if you believe in your produce, sell the small defects too

5. the client has to see the full picture (how to use what we sell) Selling includes use instructions. Don’t sell the Ferrari without helping the buyer learn how to drive it.

So can you master framing? Of course! But mastery comes only with practice.



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