One key note speaker that stood out was Dan Pink who talked about his book To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. He noted how back in 2000, 1 in 9 people worked in sales. Fast forward to 2013. One in 9 people are still working in sales. So, what are the other 8 in 9 doing. According to Dan, they are in sales too.
I immediately thought to myself..."Yuck, I hate selling." Well, it turns out I'm not alone. Among a survey of 7000 Americans, when asked the question "What's the first word that comes to mind when you think of sales?" the top noted word was PUSHY. This was followed closely by YUCK (my favorite), HARD, DIFFICULT, ANNOYING. The list goes on.
He highlighted two key points...
1. Like it or not - we're all in sales. 1 in 9 are in traditional selling where there is an exchange of dollars for product. The other 8 in 9, identified through Dan's research, are in what he calls, non-sales selling. Dan says we're all in sales: teachers, art directors, project team leaders, etc. We're selling ideas, and insights. Or, maybe we're trying to convince an employee to do something differently. The exchange may not be in dollars, but in time and attention.
So, why the negative connotations for sales? Well, Dan says these negative connotations are a result of a different time, where there was a disparity in knowledge between the buyer and the seller. Hence the phrase, "Let the buyer beware." But, key point #2...
2. In today's technological age, sales of any kind is not what it used to be. Technology has changed the asymmetry of knowledge between the buyer and the seller. Technology has given the buyer more information and created information parity.
In the past, sales focused on the following A,B, C's...
A - Always
B - Be
C - Closing
Today, Dan says it is now this:
A - Attunement: Understand where someone else is coming from - LISTEN. What are their interests?
B - Buoyancy: Weather rejection and stay afloat with ease
C - Clarity: Curate information - Edit, distill, what is relevant and what isn't. Move from Problem Solving to Problem Finding. He says, if a client knows the problem, they can probably fix it.
During his discussion about Attunement, he mentioned the idea of how your own sense of power can lessen your effectiveness at connecting with ours. Why? You're too tuned into yourself. While I didn't find this overly earth shattering, it does underscore even more the importance of getting out of your own head and tuning into what the other person is saying...from THEIR perspective. If not, the message may be misconstrued or completely missed.
While his discussion was a lot about selling, the new found A,B,C rule is critical to many professions, Market Research not excluded. Let's be sure we're tuning in. And, in the world of big data, let's be sure we're curating information as best possible.