How to Stay In The Pink

I heard about Daniel Pink when his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future came out and he was being interviewed on NPR. I liked his voice – both literally and figuratively. And I liked the way his mind worked.

Not surprisingly, he’s extremely well-educated; it shows. But there are lots of well-educated folk who “don’t know where to park their bikes,” as my Dad used to say. Dan Pink has got more than education. He’s funny. Authentic. The Real Deal. And his book made a lot of sense. So did the next one I read, Drive.

That’s why I made sure to go and see him on his latest stop in Philadelphia at an Arts & Business Council event. He was discussing his newest book, To Sell is Human. I’ll confess I hadn’t bought the book yet, and I was hoping he’d give the gist of it during his talk so I wouldn’t feel compelled – since my stack of yet-to-be-read books is ever increasing.  

No. Such. Luck. Although he truly did give a fabulous overview, it only succeeded in whetting my appetite. I guess that was the point of his visit. I “Amazoned” it as soon as I got to an Internet connection, since I didn’t want to wait in line to buy it just to get his signature. (Even for people I admire, my patience level doesn’t tolerate standing in line).

Pink’s overarching premise in this new book is that the old paradigm, where there were “sales” people and then there were “all others” that supported the business, is dead. The new paradigm is one in which everyone in business is some kind of participant in actively persuading or moving others (known in his vernacular as selling). In addition, there is far more transparency in selling than in the past. Because selling is so different now, he outlines the concepts of Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity as the new ABC’s of effective persuasion.

I guess you could say that I am one of his “choir” to which he was preaching. The method I’ve developed and use for helping entrepreneurs attract customers, rather than “sell” to them, aligns and overlaps with his premise; in particular regarding clarity – a critical element on both sides of the sales equation. Therefore, I feel fortunate I’ve been able to incorporate some of his valuable research into my own work; because, unlike many theory-based books, Pink gives us some granular tactics on how they might be applied and how this selling paradigm shift is unfolding in real time.

But I digress.

After Pink spoke, a panel of prominent local business people and a moderator (only one of the 5 a woman, by the way) took the stage to further discuss sales and the selling process. I had assumed they had each read the book, and would give us even more tactical ideas using the presented concepts in real-world scenarios. The panel consisted of a Wharton professor, an entrepreneur, a self-professed “sales guy” and a theatre professional. It made sense to have a panel with varying backgrounds and viewpoints to elaborate his message.  

Unfortunately, in what I would say to be typical fashion, the sales guy took up most of the oxygen in the room. I know he didn’t mean to – he actually seemed like a decent guy – and he appeared to be genuinely trying to help people in the audience. But to me, his extroverted nature and rambling communication style made it difficult for the other participants to contribute. Plus, he actually illustrated much more of the old school ABC selling technique of Always Be Closing rather than Pink’s new ABC’s of selling: Attunement, Buoyancy, Clarity.

I’ve taken a ton of advice from Dan Pink throughout the years. Now I will gently suggest he take a smidgeon of mine. One of my main premises is that EVERY SINGLE TOUCHPOINT a potential customer has with you, or anyone you align yourself with, is a part of your brand. Each touchpoint therefore has the opportunity to either strengthen or detract from your brand message. Every person with whom you affiliate is a reflection of you, your message and your brand. In this case, one member of the panel detracted from Pink’s brand and message; and that’s a shame.  

The good news is that he’s built up a lot of credibility and one misstep likely won’t hurt him much. However, until you and I are “in the pink” or better yet rolling “in the green,” it’s good practice to make sure that you team up with those who support your message and strengthen your brand.

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