‘Always Be Closing’ Becomes ‘Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity’

Author Daniel Pink tells NSCA BLC attendees that sales staffs must take new approach in days when it’s seller beware because of information parity.

Pitching, pitching and more pitching. Sure, that sounds like the mantra of every baseball team at this time of year, but it also applies to the business world, where—whether you like it or not—we’re all in sales these days.

That’s the message author Daniel Pink delivered during in NSCA Business and Leadership Conference keynote address in Dallas, noting there are four new ways to pitch that are particularly effective at a time when we’re all always selling something to someone.

The One-Word Pitch

This one is perhaps the most difficult to achieve, but one that carries with it quite a bit of weight, says Pink. If you can get someone to the point where the mention of a single word leads them to think of your brand or business, it’s a major achievement. When most people hear the word “search” today, they think of Google. And President Obama used “hope” for his 2008 campaign and “forward” to be re-elected in 2012.

The Question Pitch

People are conditioned to come up with their own reasons for agreeing with something they initially may reject, says Pink. Asking a question elicits an active response, while statements tend to wash over people. Think of Ronald Reagan telling voters in his 1980 campaign, “Ask yourself: Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”

The one caveat to a question pitch is you must be reasonably sure the question you ask will bring about the answer you want, or this approach will likely backfire, says Pink.

The Rhyming Pitch

Did you ever wonder why nursery rhymes are so effective at teaching children how to read or how to remember things? It’s because rhymes increase people’s processing fluency and helps complicated things make more sense to them, says Pink.

There are plenty of companies that employ the rhyming pitch approach to selling their products, but perhaps the most effective around the world is Haribo, which makes Gummi Bears. Its pitch rhymes in 35 languages, says Pink, including English, Spanish, French…and even Bulgarian.

The Pixar Pitch

This one is the newest of the quartet and thus the one that most companies haven’t tried yet. It says that all Pixar movies follow a particular formula and that your business can do the same to be effective, says Pink.

Start with “once upon a time…,” followed by “every day …,” then “one day …,” then “because of that …” twice and wrap it up with “until finally…” While it seems somewhat complicated, it works well if you focus on a single issue or problem you’re trying to fix.

The New ABCs of Sales

The movie Glengarry Glen Ross is famous largely for Alec Baldwin’s character who tells the sad-sack sales staff of the company for which he’s consulting sales is as easy as ABC, short for always be closing. Pink believes it’s time to replace that famous acronym with new words: attunement (seeing things from another person’s perspective), buoyancy (being able to survive a wave of rejection) and clarity (questioning your own abilities to be able to find your direction through curating information and using it to find problems a customer might not even know they have).

It’s crucial for those in power to briefly reduce those feelings of power to increase their effectiveness, says Pink. The more powerful you feel, the more your perspective-taking ability degrades, he says, and that also impairs your leadership ability.

Using your head as much as your heart is another way to become a more effective salesman, says Pink, as is using the customer’s language, posture and gestures as your own “without being an idiot about it.”

Also, as much as it seems like the most outgoing people would be the best salespeople, most people feel uncomfortable by overly pushy, aggressive sales pitches too, especially in the era of information parity where the approach is “seller beware.”

Introverts struggle to connect with clients because they’re too timid or awkward, while extroverts often struggle to keep their over-the-top personalities and glad-handing in check. Ambiverts, who mix the best of both types of people, fare best, says Pink.