One of the epic scenes (NSFW) in the cinema of sales occurs early in the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross.  A young Alec Baldwin plays Blake, a cold-blooded predator in a finely-tailored suit, who visits the sad sack real estate salesmen of Mitch and Murray to school them on the realities of selling.

After berating the men and questioning their masculinity, Blake flips over a green chalkboard and points to where he’s written the first three letters of the alphabet. “A-B-C,” he bellows.  “A – always.  B – be. C – closing. Always be closing. Always be closing.”

“Always be closing” is a cornerstone of the sales cathedral. Its simplicity makes it understandable; its alphabetically makes it memorable.  But these days this advice is outdated. When buyers have many options, lots of information, and the means to talk back, the steamroller approach is a relic.

That’s why To Sell is Human introduces the new ABC’s:

A — Attunement

B — Buoyancy

C — Clarity

These three qualities are now essential whether you’re trying to move a prospect to buy a computer system or your daughter to do her homework.

Attunement is the capacity to take another’s perspective, to understand their interests, and to see the world from their point of view. Buoyancy is the capacity to stay afloat on what one salesman calls an “ocean of rejection.” Clarity is the capacity to make sense of murky situations, to curate information rather than merely access it, and to move from solving existing problems to finding hidden ones.

To Sell is Human reviews the science of why these qualities are so effective. But it also includes an array of tools, tips, and exercise to help you hone your abilities.

On my website — just for you, dear newsletter readers — I’ve put three of my favorite exercises, one for each quality. (They’re a bit too long to include in the body of the newsletter).

For Attunement, the exercise is “Pull Up a Chair” — a simple strategy that Amazon honcho Jeff Bezos uses to stay attuned to his customers.

For Buoyancy, it’s “Send Yourself a Rejection Letter” — a fun way to prepare yourself for encounters in which you might get smacked with a big, fat “No way.”

For Clarity, I chose “Find the 1 percent” — featuring the single best lesson I learned in my years of law school.

All the exercises are here.  Take a look. Then give one a try this week.

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As always, thanks for reading.  Feel free to share the 6-page Introduction and the 2-minute trailer with anyone (or everyone) on your holiday list.

Daniel Pink

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