We're All in Sales | #hcsummit
The first day of HCI’s 8th annual Human Capital Summit began with a keynote from best-selling author and thought leader Dan Pink. Pink looked out at the packed house of human capital attendees and promptly convinced them they were all in sales. At some point in everyone’s day, he concluded, there are times when you must convince someone else to part with something they hold dear—it might be time, money, attention, engagement, etc.
What? Ugh, not sales. Yes, Pink conceded, sales folks have a bad reputation. He conducted a survey of 7,000 people with the simple question, “What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear sales?” Pink made a word cloud of the top answers: pushy, slimy, sleezy, manipulative, and yes—even UGH made the list.
Why does sales have such a bad rep? Turns out it’s leftover from the times when sales folks had all the power. It used to be that sales people had all of the information, and the buyer had almost none. The phrase “buyer beware” was all about the fact that if you were being sold to, the seller knew held all the cards. This is not true anymore. Now everyone has access to more information than ever. What does this mean for human capital though? Pink gave the example of what happens today in recruiting. A recruiter tells a candidate that their company has a great culture. But, it’s a seller beware world today, and the candidate references information from glassdoor or blogs—the candidate already knows a lot about whether or not the culture is great.
So if everyone’s in sales, and it’s a seller beware world, what do we need to know? Leaders need to let go of their power and change their perspective. Pink says to increase a leader’s effectiveness they need to decrease their power. Leaders need to recognize the importance of their direct reports and empower them to contribute.
The last point Pink made was an important one. He referenced research on who sells more: extroverts or introverts. The answer is neither. It’s the ambiverts who sell the most. Ambiverts are people who fall between extroverts and introverts—they are a bit of both depending on the situation. The good news is that most people fall into this category. You’re probably an ambivert and you’re definitely in sales because as Dan’s book title says, “To Sell Is Human.”