Monday, 6 May 2013

The Pixar Pitch and Other Sales Tips from Dan Pink


If you need to brush up your selling and influencing skills, Dan Pink’s new book ‘To Sell is Human’ has some practical suggestions. Though I would not recommend all of them to all of my friends. Because selling is very personal, and you have to be yourself to engage people. As I found out. But I’ll tell you about that later. 

I sold young ladies for a living
Having recently gone freelance, I need to sell myself constantly. I used to make a living out of selling other people. I sold young ladies quite successfully. About one a week, on average. I was a recruitment consultant. Right now, I am trying to sell a new careers development workshop for recent graduates who want to work in sustainability. The drive for a green growth, coupled, sadly, with high youth unemployment, makes me suspect there is a need for a course that will help young people to help themselves find jobs. 

Don't sell what interests you
I’ve got a plan to deliver a course that will be an inspiring and memorable experience. But as Dan Pink says, I need to communicate not what interests me about the course, but what will attract potential participants. Forming a lifelong long network of people who want to work in sustainability is, to me, the key to future happiness and prosperity. Whereas the participants probably just want to know that handing over two hundred pounds will make a difference to their job prospects. What I am thinking about now is the need to have a clear message for potential participants. What is the goal of the course? What will they learn, and how will this help them find a job in sustainability? 
The PIxar Pitch
One of the tools that Dan Pink offers is ‘The Pixar Pitch’. Emma Coats, a former Pixar story artist, has created a six sentence template for an irresistible story: 

‘Once upon a time _____. Every day_____. One day_____. Because of that_____. Because of that_____. Until finally_____.’

And so it happened, that on a Holiday Monday, I tried to use Emma Coats' template to create a pitch for my workshop ‘Pathways to Sustainability Career’.

‘Once upon a time it was difficult to find a job in sustainability. Every day, young people applied for jobs, but it took a lot of time, and some gave up looking because of the rejections and the competition. One day, young people came together to learn more about jobs in sustainability, and what kind of skills and experience are needed. Because of that, young people wrote better applications and felt more energised and supported. Because of that, more young people got jobs in sustainability, and were able to influence change. Until finally, the network became so valuable both personally and professionally, that young people wondered why they had waited so long to get together.’

Questions work better than answers
Another of Dan Pink’s selling tips is that asking questions is a more effective way of engaging people than giving answers. Asking questions makes people think. So what do you think? Does my ‘PIxar PItch’ make you want to come on the course?

Selling is personal: be yourself
One more thing. I promised to tell you about my brush with inauthenticity when selling. I was trying to write a strap line for my website. I was so convinced by Dan Pink of the value of asking questions, that I turned my strapline into a question. I’m too embarrassed to share it with you. I sent my brilliant strap line to a friend who works in communications, and also to my web-designer, who happens to be American. I thought, being American, that she would like Dan Pink’s influencing style. Both my web designer and my friend came back with the same message: ‘Interesting idea! But it’s not you.’ They are, of course, quite right. But do read Dan Pink's book 'To Sell is Human'.
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