New ABC for sales and dating

New sales ABC

Customer behavior has changed since the internet and has lead to transformation of sales work. So has landscape of dating changed too. (Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /


“You can lose a lot of money when chasing women but you never lose women when chasing money.” -I think I love my wife, movie (2007)

Do you consider yourself working in sales? Not that long time ago I used to. Even if I worked as a manager of sales people I was closely involved with the day-to-day activities.

Outside workplace I used to answer question of “What do you do?” by saying “I sell {replace what your company produces}”. Often the face of the questioner was fairly confused as most of them knew my educational background. They probably thought I should have achieved more than being a regular sales guy.

Looking at their faces was part of the fun. Knowing that sales work and salespeople are not that well perceived. When you graduate from the business school, marketing, investing and consulting are often the most desired fields  of employment. Still, large amount of graduates end up to sales despite of the title that is printed on your business card. That’s most likely because sales is everywhere.

Sales is actually everywhere

Daniel H. Pink elaborates into the importance of sales skills in his book called To sell is human. In the United States alone one out of nine people in the workforce are directly involved in sales. The same goes for Europe and basically for all the countries where agriculture is not a dominant way of making a living.

Beside actual sales more and more people in various occupations influence and persuade other people to do things. Self-employed entrepreneurs, teachers, consultants, craftsmen and many others are required to do sales work for a large proportion of their daily activities.

Internet has enabled buyers to have much more information about the purchase they are making (see David Meerman Scott for a great presentation). Recently I have often heard b2b salespeople admitting that customers usually know about novelties and new products before they do.

In the era of nearly unlimited information Pink goes and questions the legendary Always be closing mantra. He reformulates ABC as attunement, buoyancy and clarity. As I’m not a native speaker I had to go for Merriam Webster to check the meaning of these words. Nevertheless they do make sense. How?

Always be attuned

In the terms of relationships and sales attunement is the first step. Simply said it’s about looking at the situation from the perspective of the other party. To perform well in the attunement part there are several tips and tricks available.

Position of power often determines how and to what extent will you take into account emotions and motives of the other party. Therefore it’s recommended to consciously think that you are in a weaker position than the counterpart.

Other trick is to chameleon, as Pink calls it, the other person you are pursuing to bond with. That’s what you do on a first date. You seek for resemblances and imitate to create common interests and topics. And that’s what you can do also in a sales situation or connecting with new colleagues.

Pink declares also that sales skills can be learned. Actually, he points out that extraverts aren’t the best sales people on earth when measured by sales performance and volume. The people situated in between extraverts and introverts by their social behavior, ambiverts, have in fact the best results in sales.

If you think about it that’s very natural. To be able to close a deal, sell something or get a phone number of a representative of opposite sex, one needs to balance the amount of listening (introversion) and amount of outgoingness (extraversion). If you talk all the way through, you might appear to be just a jerk.

Don’t be always closing

The A was attunement. The B in the new ABC of sales is about your attitude and mental preparation for sales situations. Often salespeople are characterized of bumping up self confidence by motivational self talk.

Instead, Pink suggests a new approach. When you desire a little bit of nice time between the bed sheets, don’t encourage yourself only by telling yourself “Now I’ll take him or her”. Rather use method of interrogative self talk. “Can I take him or her?” This kind of questions makes you to think what is required to accomplish the goal and therefore more mentally prepared for the pivotal points in the sales situation.

As Neil Rackham did couple of decades earlier in Spin Selling also Daniel Pink denies importance of closing in sales. In his book, synthesizing from many recent studies, Pink replaces closing with clarity. When reaching for a deal one needs to be able to make clever questions to identify the problem and make it clear.

Earlier, before the time of internet and vast source of information, salesmen were required to answer questions and solve problems. Today, thanks to internet, solutions are often closer than the diagnosis. The same goes for women. They don’t expect you to solve their problems. With questions you show empathy and interest and that’s enough.