July 15, 2024
To Sell Is Human by Daniel H Pink – Book Review – The New ABCs of Selling – A Is for Attunement

On December 31, 2012, Daniel H. Pink released his new book, “To Sell Is Human-The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.” Pink is the bestselling author of “Drive,” and “A Whole New Mind.” Pink’s new message declares that regardless of our career, today, we’re all in sales. Traditional selling involves convincing customers and prospects to make a purchase. “Non-sales selling” is Pink’s term for convincing, persuading, and influencing others to give up something they’ve got in exchange for what we’ve got. The concept applies to everybody, as parents cajole children, lawyers sell juries on a verdict and teachers sell students on the value of paying attention in class, to name a few. To succeed in both traditional selling and non-sales selling requires a new mindset based on the revised ABCs of selling. Previously, the ABCs meant, “always be closing.” Now the ABCs embody attunement, buoyancy, and clarity. The following article highlights attunement.


Attunement is the ability to bring one’s actions and outlook into harmony with other people and with the context you’re in. Research shows attunement is based on three principles:

  1. Increase your power by reducing it. Researchers conclude that power leads individuals to anchor too heavily on their vantage point and perspective-taking. The ability to move people now depends on power’s inverse-understanding another person’s perspective, getting inside his head and seeing the world through his eyes. Those with lower status are keener perspective-takers. Moving others doesn’t mean becoming a pushover or embracing total selflessness. Attunement’s success is also based on two more principles.
  2. Use your head as much as your heart. Social scientists often view perspective-taking and empathy as fraternal twins-closely related, but not identical. Perspective-taking is mostly cognitive (thinking) and empathy is an emotional (feeling) response. Researchers conclude that perspective-taking trumps empathy. Traditional sales and non-selling sales often involve what look like competing imperatives-cooperation vs. competition, group gain vs. individual advantage. Pushing too hard is counterproductive, yet feeling too deeply can cause you to submerge your own interests. This second principle helps us recognize that individuals don’t exist as atomistic units, disconnected from groups, situations, and contexts.
  3. Mimic Strategically. “Human beings are natural mimickers,” Pink says. Scientists view mimicry as a deeply human, natural act that serves as social glue and a sign of trust. “Strategic mimicry” is rooted in our brains as unconscious awareness of whether we are in synch with other people. A way to confirm synchronicity is to match behavioral patterns. “Synching our mannerisms and vocal patterns to someone else so that we both understand and can be understood is fundamental to attunement,” Pink says. Touching complements mimicry, but touching and mimicry itself requires deftness to be successful.

Reduce your power (which requires humility); hone your emotional intelligence (not being consumed by your emotional connection vs. perspective-taking), and mimic strategically (the ability to chameleon) to master attunement. Ambiverts. Pink concludes his attunement discussion by dispelling the belief that extraverts make better salespeople than introverts. “There’s almost no evidence that it’s actually true,” Pink says. Ambiverts are neither overly extraverted nor wildly introverted. Introverts are geared to inspect and extraverts are geared to respond. Any selling, whether traditional sales or non-sales selling requires a balance between the two. Ambiverts can find that balance and are the best movers because they’re the most skilled attuners. Luckily, most of us are ambiverts and in some sense, we’re born to sell. Once you’ve mastered attunement, buoyancy, and clarity, which show you how to be, you need to know what to do. Honing your pitch, learning how to improvise and serve complement your actions. On New Year’s Day, Daniel Pink hosted an exclusive, hour-long webinar for first responders to “To Sell Is Human.” He endorsed “I Done This”-an email-based productivity log sent to you chronicling your daily productivity, great for individuals or teams.