Daniel Pink is one of my favorite authors; his 2001 book Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself, changed my worldview about the future of work and freelancing. After reading the book, for a funny reason, I tried to be ambidextrous but had to give it up after a while.

New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink in his Masterclass Session shares tactics for becoming a stronger motivator and communicator- all drawn from behavioral science for effective selling.

Daniel Pink has been exercising the art of persuasion for decades, first as a law school student, and later as a political speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore. His bestselling books draw on behavioral science to better understand how humans are motivated and gain more effective and ethical selling in dramatically changing business environments.


Named one of the most influential management thinkers in the world by London-based Thinkers 50, Daniel is the author of six books on business and human behavior, including two No. 1 New York Times bestsellers: Drive and To Sell Is Human.

Here are my favorite takeaways from viewing Daniel Pink’s Masterclass Session on Sales and Persuasion:

Daniel Pink’s speech on the science of motivation is one of the most-watched TED Talks of all time, with more than 36 million views across multiple platforms. 

Information Parity

  • Thanks to the internet and social media, information asymmetry has been replaced by information parity. Now, buyers often have as much (or, in some cases, more) knowledge about a product as sellers.
  • Consumers can tap into an endless stream of choices and comparisons. They also have options for talking back, from leaving a product review on Amazon to disclosing salaries on Glassdoor, further breaking down the structure of information asymmetry. 
  • That is to say: The “buyer beware” (Caveat Emptor) culture, where slippery used-car salesmen thrived, has ceded to this new “seller beware” (Caveat Venditor) environment. Do wrong by a customer and your business and reputation are likely to suffer. 

The Bottom Line paradigm of persuasion has shifted. 

The best response to this change? Make selling personal, and make it purposeful. Daniel believes in starting out with these two questions: 

  • If the other person does what I want, will they be better off? 
  • If the other person does what I want, will the world be better off? 

In sales today, idealism isn’t just a stance. It’s a practical methodology. 

Like all humans, you’re something of a natural persuader, even if you don’t feel like one. There isn’t a specific personality type that’s inherently better at persuasion, either. Which means you don’t need to be an extrovert to be effective. We’re all in sales. 

ABCs of sales: Always Be Closing to Attunement, Buoyancy, Clarity. 

Just as salespeople have changed, so too have the ABCs. When Daniel talks about the ABCs of sales, he means something different entirely: Attunement, Buoyancy, Clarity. 

A IS FOR ATTUNEMENT

  • When human beings have their own reasons for doing something, they’re more likely to do it; they’re more likely to believe in the reasons for doing it; they’re more likely to sustain that behavior,” Daniel says.

Attunement is an ability to get out of your own head and into the head of the person you’re attempting to persuade. It’s not about coercion; it’s about seeing the situation through their eyes. This skill, called perspective- taking, requires you to:

1. See where a person’s coming from. What motivations, concerns, and biases do they bring to the table?

2. Understand what they’re saying. You’ve got to truly grasp what they want.

3. Honor their point of view. Respecting their position can build a bridge to agreement.

Perspective Taking

  •  Bear in mind that persuasion is a dialogue; it’s the hunt for common ground. What was once purely about irritation (getting someone to do what you want) is now also about agitation (getting someone to do what they should do and will ultimately want to do). The latter is a better method because it spurs a person’s own motivations for making change.

B IS FOR BUOYANCY 

Buoyancy measures your ability to float “in an ocean of rejection,” as Daniel calls it. As a seller/persuader, you’re going to hear “no” many more times than “yes.” Managing this means equipping yourself to deal with rejection—a.k.a. becoming more buoyant. 

Want to build up your own raft? Make an effort to de-catastrophize rejection. What seems like the end of the world—well, it just isn’t. This type of thinking can be the product of a three-headed beast of self-biases. We call them the Three Ps. 

Personal Bias

You tend to believe rejection is somehow a referendum on who you are as a person. This isn’t necessarily correct. If you get rejected during a sale, look for all the ways this decision wasn’t based on who you are or what you did (or didn’t) say. There might be other factors at play. 

Pervasive Bias

Rejection can beget a loop of negative confirmation. You think: “This always happens!” But in reality, it doesn’t always happen. Focus instead on all the times you’ve prevailed in the past. 

Permanent Bias

If it’s large enough, even one rejection can feel like an indelible black mark on your status as a persuader. Truth is, this single rejection is far from the final word. Think about all the ways things aren’t ruined. Then get back up, dust yourself off, and start selling again. 

C IS FOR CLARITY 

Clarity is simply the ability to see a situation in a fresh light and help people surface problems they didn’t realize that they had, 

Problem Solving to Problem Finding

  • Effective persuasion tactics are born from providing clarity. In the past, sales was a role that revolved around expertise—the seller knowing more than the buyer. But the era of information parity means shifting the persuader’s role from gatekeeper to curator. It also means shifting from problem-solving to problem-finding. 
  • To that end, part of providing clarity as a salesperson hinges on being an expert on issues that contextualize the transaction. 

Your worth comes from an ability to synthesize knowledge for the buyer’s benefit. 

Social Proof

  • In terms of persuasive techniques, don’t hesitate to rely on social proof, which involves using the pressure of peer comparison to influence behavior. Telling the head of a firm that his or her computer system is extremely outdated can work; telling him or her that it’s extremely outdated when compared with the company’s biggest competitor can work even better. 

Cognitive Biases >> Persuassive Framing

A major part of knowing how to frame a pitch persuasively comes from understanding that humans inherently fall victim to cognitive bias: We tend to let our subjective reality—or how we perceive the world—take precedence over an objective reality. 

Daniel cites a few different cognitive biases: loss aversion, opportunity cost, and experiential value. These three biases can be distilled down into three primary types of persuasive framing: 

  • The Experience Frame draws on people’s tendency to value experiences over goods and services. In attempting to sell someone a house, you sell them on the experiences made possible by homeownership rather than the property itself. 
  • The Potential Frame embraces the fact that potential is often more persuasive than current performance. When going for a promotion, you tell a boss all the ways you’d succeed in the new role instead of listing ways you’re competent in your current role. 
  • The Loss Frame contextualizes a sale around what the buyer stands to lose if they don’t hit the bid. Selling someone insurance is the classic example of this frame. 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING 

Your internal rhythms have a more profound effect on your productivity than you might realize.

Persuasion, fundamentally, is about human nature. And one of the most important methods for understanding human nature is to appreciate our inherent rhythms. Try thinking about each day in three stages: 

  • Peak: Early to mid-morning. This is the time when you’re most alert and equipped for analytical work. Big decisions are best made during this period.
  • Trough: Late morning to early afternoon. This is the time when your performance might start to lag and your energy levels may begin to drop. It’s a time best saved for administrative work.
  • Recovery: Late afternoon to early evening. This is the time when your energy levels begin to rebound, making it ideal for iterative or creative work. 

When people have their own reasons for doing something, they’re more likely yo do it.

AMBIVERT 

A person who shows a balance between the extrovert and introvert personality types. Ambiverts can be particularly effective persuaders. 

Recommended Books

  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini 
  • Bias: Uncovering the Hidden Bias That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt 
  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury 
  • The Person and the Situation: Perspectives on Social Psychology by Lee Ross and Richard E. Nesbitt 
  • The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker 
  • Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant 
  • Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Metaphors We Live By  George Lakoff and Mark Johnson 
  • Norton Anthology of Poetry by Margaret Ferguson, Tim Kendall, and Jo Salter 
  • Improvisation for Theater by Viola Spolin 

Movies

  • Glengarry Glen Ross
  • Primary Colors 

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