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5 Takeaways From 'To Sell Is Human' by Daniel H. Pink

10 min read

Whether you’re a CRO in a 7 hour boardroom meeting, or a sales rep slogging it out on the frontline - it can be hard to find time to to figure out what to read to develop your knowledge and get ahead with your career.

With this in mind, here’s a handy breakdown of the 5 principles that inform Daniel H Pink’s ‘To Sell Is Human’, so you can try before you buy.

1: Be An Ambivert. 

If you’re an introvert, work on being sociable and assertive. If you’re an extrovert, practice your prep skills and rehearse your “ask” before it arrives. 

2: Be Like Bob. 

Being too positive or critical of yourself before making a pitch can decrease your chances of success. Remember Bob The Builder’s catchphrase - ‘can we fix it?’.  

3: Go Negative once in a while. 

Negativity and negative emotions prevent unproductive behaviours from slipping into habits. Use “appropriate negativity” on yourself. 

4: Send Yourself A Rejection Letter.

Nobody likes the sting of rejection, prepare for it by sending yourself a rejection letter. 

5: Remember To Serve. 

Servant Leadership begins with the natural feeling to serve first. Use it to improve another’s life and in turn improve the world around you. 

If this speaks to you, grab a copy here
If you’ve got the time, take in our full-length breakdown of the book below: 

Be an 'Ambivert'

There is common understanding that extraverts make the best sales people. Sociable, assertive, lively: it's an ideal profile for moving others. Being an introvert is obviously not a personality trait conducive to being a good salesperson.


  • If you are an extravert try praising some introverted skills. For instance, make fewer declarations and ask more questions. When you feel the need to assert, take a pause and ask questions. 
  • If you are an introvert, practise some extrovert skills. Practise your "ask" in advance before it arrives. Preparation is key.

Be like Bob

Remember 'Bob The Builder's' iconic catchphrase, 'can we fix it'? Well, this interrogative self-talk can be the key question to controlling your internal monologue.

Research has found that being too positive or critical of yourself before making a pitch can actually decrease your chances of success. Instead ask an interrogative question that shifts the linguistic categories from a statement to a question.


  • Use ‘Will I?’ before starting a task rather than ‘I will’. 

Go negative once in a while

Negativity and negative emotions are crucial for our survival. They prevent unproductive behaviours from cementing into habits. Allow yourself to use "appropriate negativity" on yourself.


  • Suppose you fail to convert a client for another year of using your service. If part of the reason was that some of your work wasn't up to your usual standard, get a little angry with yourself. You have made a mistake, but use that emotion as impetus to improve going forward.

Send yourself a rejection letter

Nobody likes receiving rejection letters. One of the ways to reduce the sting of receiving a rejection letter is to write your own one.


  • Say that you're pitching a new client. Take an hour and write yourself a letter from the person you're trying to move explaining why their answer is "no, thanks." List the reasons why they're turning you down.

Don't forget to serve

To serve others is to improve another's life and in turn to improve the world. That's the lifeblood of service and the secret of moving others.

Use "servant leadership". Servant leadership begins with the natural feeling to serve first. It begins with the ideas that those that move others aren't manipulators but servants. They serve first and sell later.


Ask these questions

  • If the person you're selling to agrees to buy, will his or her life improve? 
  • When your interaction is over, will the world be a better place than when you began?

Written by:

Published on:

February 26, 2021

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