Bestselling author Dan Pink is asking you to call it what it is.
More specifically, your work. If in your job you spend any time persuading, convincing and influencing others, you are in the business of moving others. Frankly, he explains, you’re selling. And if you’re selling, it’s important to recognize major developments over the years that have changed how the best people are moving others. Through a first-of-its-kind study and a collection of a broad spectrum of examples, Pink has thoughtfully made the case for rethinking sales. You will learn how to be, what to do and how to put all the pieces into play in his new book To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.
There are a broad variety of strategies at play in the nonprofit sector when executives are in the midst of convincing, persuading or influencing their boards, staffs and constituents. Some may be using old school techniques, and perhaps others draw on intuition. No matter what the convenient tactic at hand, a strong case can be made for formalizing our approach to moving others and understanding what motivates. It is, after all, the business we’re in.
Three truths about moving others today
Nonprofit leaders constantly find themselves asking how to move a donor to give, how to move a board member to lead, how to move the staff to act. Understanding today’s truths about Pink’s sales ideas such as Attunement, Clarity and Buoyancy is especially relevant due to the sector’s increased presence of competition and general misunderstanding of sales.
For example, Attunement honors the knowledge and goals of the buyer, jettisoning the old sales adage, “ABC” or “Always be closing.” Pink begins the new “ABC” with the first word, Attunement, or “the ability to bring one’s actions and outlook into harmony with other people and with the context you’re in. Think of it as operating the dial on a radio. It’s the capacity to move up and down the band as circumstances demand, locking in on what’s being transmitted, even if those signals aren’t immediately clear or obvious.” He also calls this “perspective-taking.”
Pink describes three ways to become more attune with your buyer/client/funder:
Increase your power by reducing it. Through several social science studies Pink relates, it was found that people who perceived greater power became less attune with others’ points of views. And the inverse is true of those who perceive less power. Because a salesperson no longer holds all the information and therefore, the power, s/he must rely on taking the other’s perspective and giving up power in order to move someone.
Use your head as much as your heart. Perspective-taking is not the same as empathy. Pink describes perspective-taking as a cognitive action where you imagine what someone else is thinking. Empathy means you feel for the other or try to imagine what another person is feeling. Empathy can cause you to toss aside your own interests, as you may feel too deeply, whereas perspective-taking can help both sides achieve their goals. Therefore, perspective-taking with a cognitive focus on people, their relationships and context is more effective to move people.
Mimic strategically. Pink stresses that mimicking your buyer can help you negotiate better. Mimicry builds connections, trust and understanding. However, it must be treated with care so it is not obvious. Otherwise, it can backfire. Pink also discusses how touching (e.g., on the arm) can help build connections and foster negotiations.
Pink’s choice for nonprofits
In addition to attunement, Pink explores many other essential principles surrounding the notion of moving others. We asked him which one he felt was most appropriate for nonprofits for our Page to Practice summary and have excerpted here.
CausePlanet: Nonprofit leaders constantly find themselves convincing or persuading others to support their causes. Is there a principle from your book that you feel stands out as especially appropriate for nonprofit executives to apply?
Dan Pink: Make it personal. There’s an array of research showing that abstract and conceptual appeals (“Increase vaccination rates”) are far less effective than specific and concrete ones (“Vaccinate this child or she risks dying of malaria”). And the principle goes well beyond fundraising. There’s some great research from Israel, for instance, showing that radiologists who see both a scan and a photo of the patient whose scan it is spend more time and are more accurate in their evaluations. The same is largely true for leadership. When leaders put themselves on the line and when others see they’re real people, their leadership effectiveness rises substantially.
For those of you who find yourselves in the business of moving others (and Pink argues virtually everyone is in this business), consider how attune you are with your prospects and then ask yourself how you can make your appeals personal. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks as we discuss Pink’s observations about clarity, buoyancy and other interview questions we had for him.