Gini Dietrich

To Sell is Human: A Communicator’s View on New Business

By: Gini Dietrich | March 7, 2013 | 
66

To Sell is HumanAfter I’d been at Fleishman-Hillard for a couple of years, I had three promotions under my belt and was already eyeing the corner office (some things never change).

Because I was so steadily climbing the corporate ladder, I was soon invited into new business meetings where my presentation skills were honed, I was taught to think on my feet, and I was forced to stop biting my fingernails.

But all of those meetings? They were put on by one of the partners and you had to be invited in. No one at my level ever hosted a prospect.

And then. My then mentor and now good friend, Ron Arp, came back from an executive team meeting and told a group of us we had to learn how to sell. 

Learn to Sell

Of course, he didn’t use that word because he’s much better at consensus than that, but that’s what it was…we had to learn to sell.

What the heck did I know about selling? I am an English major. I wrote the obituary and wedding announcements at the Omaha World-Herald during college. I was a communicator and on my way to being a client service pro. Not only did I not know how to sell, all of my contacts were also in their mid-20s. They didn’t have decision-making power. Who was I going to sell?

But, being the double type A, highly-competitive person I am, I convinced my supervisor to let me join PRSA and IABC and I started attending meetings and getting involved. I began to network. By golly, I was going to find a way to bring in some new business!

Ron did everything he could to bring us along. He bought us all copies of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He brought in speakers who gave us roadmaps on how to build relationships with people in order to get them to buy.

But it was all so foreign. It still didn’t make sense…this selling thing.

Is it Just Networking?

Over dinner one night, I was talking to my dear, dear friend Henry Gantz about this conundrum. I was doing so well at almost every part of my job, but failing at this new business thing.

A few days later he called me.

He said, “We’re going to hire a PR firm and we want it to be FH.”

At the time, he was the president of The Catfish Institute and they ended up spending more than $1 million a year with us.

I was a freaking hero and all I had to do was talk to a friend, without even realizing they were looking. All I did was put a germ of an idea in his head and he made it happen.

This selling thing is easy! It’s not suckering poor souls into buying. It’s not putting on a lot of pressure. It’s just doing business with friends.

Fast forward to today where a majority of my job is business development. I love the chase. I love bouncing around new ideas with prospects. I love introducing a new client to my team. I love watching my team gain the results we proposed in the beginning.

It’s fun and it’s extremely rewarding.

To Sell is Human

All of this to say Dan Pink (one of my most favorite business authors) has a new book out called, “To Sell is Human.”

In it, he argues selling has become an essential part of nearly everyone’s job in today’s world.

Everyone is in sales.

Many of us spend time on the social networks and represent both us and our organizations while we’re out there. Many of us go to industry events and talk to old friends and new about what we do. Many of us attend trade shows and Chamber of Commerce meetings and networking events and meet new people.

That, my friends, is selling, and it’s up to all of us to help our organizations grow.

Think about it this way: Wouldn’t you rather work with your friends than try to go out and find some stranger looking to buy what you do?

To sell is human…and it’s up to all of us.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

Spin Sucks in Your Inbox

Leave a Reply

66 Comments on "To Sell is Human: A Communicator’s View on New Business"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 4 months ago

To sell is human. To close is divine. 😉 I *really* want to read this one Gini. And you’re absolutely right – we’re always selling – look at me with my vet! LOL

ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@belllindsay And they called you simply because you are passionate about the work we do.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich True.

ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
3 years 4 months ago

@belllindsay That phrase? Is freaking brilliant! (When are we going to have lunch already!!)

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 4 months ago

@ElissaFreeman Oh my god. Once I figure out how to live my life with an 8 week old puppy. Blergh.

yvettepistorio
3 years 4 months ago

@belllindsay What happened with your vet?

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 4 months ago

@yvettepistorio Long story. I’ll fill you in.

ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@yvettepistorio  @belllindsay Short story, Yvette, they asked if they can hire us.

katskrieger
3 years 4 months ago

OK, I have had that book sitting on my desk for a week…time to crack it open!

ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@katskrieger Read it! I love him.

ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
3 years 4 months ago

When I used to work at a non-profit called the Heart & Stroke Foundation (similar to the American Heart Association) and people used to ask, “what do I do there?” I would respond: “I sell heart disease and stroke.” Because that’s what I really did.

ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@ElissaFreeman I heart you so much!

DickCarlson
DickCarlson
3 years 4 months ago
I’m at a point in my career that if I have to “sell” you on working with me, I don’t want you as a client.  Because, in all likelihood, you’re not ripe.  You’re not really ready for what it is that I can do for you, and I’m going to be spending a lot of time arguing with you about choices, options, next steps and how the journey will work.I wish I knew who I stole this metaphor from, but it exactly describes where I am right now.I’m on an airplane.  The pilot has informed me that the engines are… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@DickCarlson Note to self: When flying with Dick, pack your own parachute.

JustInTheSouth
JustInTheSouth
3 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich ummmm I think there is something up with the @spinsucks site this is what it’s showing me http://t.co/oEWBsaeq2l

LisaMarieMary
LisaMarieMary
3 years 4 months ago

@JustInTheSouth @ginidietrich @SpinSucks DUDE! That’s awesome times a MILLION!!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@JustInTheSouth I think you typed something wrong.

JustInTheSouth
JustInTheSouth
3 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich I still see it on my side.

ArCIntel
ArCIntel
3 years 4 months ago

“@ginidietrich: To Sell is Human: A Communicator’s View on New Business http://t.co/aSeZlfEEwK via @spinsucks”

magriebler
magriebler
3 years 4 months ago

What I love about the whole “to sell is human” concept is that even when sales isn’t a line item in our job descriptions, it’s a mindset that indispensible for success, whatever our calling in life. We have to sell ourselves in a job interview. We have to sell our ideas to our bosses and our colleagues. David Mamet said it best: “Always be closing! ” Because there’s always a deal in the offing that can move us to the next stage in our careers.

ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@magriebler I had a supervisor early in my career who would make me sell her on why the thing I was turning in was my best work ever. Not only was it my best work ever, I had to think about how I was going to sell her on it. She never made changes when I did that.

JoeCardillo
3 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich  @magriebler I don’t normally go for simple slogans, but you both just made me think of a great one =) —> Selling is asking someone how they are and caring about the answer

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
3 years 4 months ago

People make sales overly complicated. Half the battle is learning how to listen and then respond appropriately. We really do engage in “sales” throughout our days. How many times do we have conversations with someone spouse/partner/friend about what to eat or what to do.
 
Every time we do that we are selling an idea.

ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes THAT is a really good point. If I talk you into going to the restaurant I want to go to, I’m selling you. Smartest comment you’ve made all week!

danperezfilms
3 years 4 months ago

If everybody is selling then why is it such a dirty little word in the social space? Who spends several hours a day on social media who isn’t selling a product or service? And then they talk of transparency and authenticity with such reverence. Don’t believe the hype, people.The more things change, the more they stay the same. Technology may have changed but the needs of people (to earn a living) hasn’t. Oh, and it’s OK.

ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@danperezfilms A friend just sent me a FB message. It said, “Sell is a four letter word for H-E-L-P.”

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@hessiejones That makes me happy!

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich now I know I don’t have to be like @AmyMccTobin to sell like Amy:)

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
3 years 4 months ago

I’m not going to even read this thread. I know it will be ugleh 🙂 @hessiejones @ginidietrich @AmyMccTobin

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 4 months ago

@MargieClayman we’re all friends! I just wish I could have a little bit of Amy in me @ginidietrich @amymcctobin #nottalkingboutblondehair

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
3 years 4 months ago

@hessiejones Amy does kind of rock, doesn’t she? *sigh* 🙂 @ginidietrich @AmyMccTobin

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin
3 years 4 months ago

@hessiejones @MargieClayman @ginidietrich Awe… you are far more sane than me Hessie 🙂

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 4 months ago

@MargieClayman Amy has the tenacity and energy I crave @ginidietrich @amymcctobin

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 4 months ago

@AmyMccTobin Yes I am more sane… that’s a given:) @margieclayman @ginidietrich

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
3 years 4 months ago

@hessiejones I think we’ve established Addie is the critical thinker in this crowd. @AmyMccTobin @ginidietrich

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 4 months ago

@MargieClayman @amymcctobin @ginidietrich Addie keeps Amy relatively sane

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin
3 years 4 months ago

@hessiejones @MargieClayman @ginidietrich Or, drives me totally nuts. 🙂 But she’s the cute one.

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
3 years 4 months ago

@AmyMccTobin see, so she drives you nuts, you drive us nuts. It all evens out 🙂 @hessiejones @ginidietrich

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin
3 years 4 months ago

@MargieClayman @hessiejones @ginidietrich It’s the perfect cycle.

bdorman264
3 years 4 months ago
So, were you the male wedding reporter character in 27 Dresses; is that how you met Mr D?    I was an ‘insurance’ guy. About 10 yrs ago as we evolved all the ‘sales people’ at LUI had to make a decision if they wanted to be in sales or service. Knowing sales is where the money is, I chose sales, but out of about 15 ‘sales people,’ over half chose service. They didn’t think they could sell, and they didn’t want the accountability and seeing your results (or lack thereof) on the board each month.    I don’t know… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@bdorman264 This goes to the conversation you and I had about a month ago. It’s on my mind lots.

bdorman264
3 years 4 months ago
@ginidietrich The hardest thing I had to do was being able to turn the account over to my team; back in the day if I said we were going to do something, it was typically me coming back to the office and ‘doing it.’  I mean I still have to know what I’m doing, but I am much more of a quarterback now and just making sure we have all the pieces in the right place. More of my time is networking and opening the door, which is unique, because I still get paid the same thing even after I assume… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@bdorman264 I keep waiting for you to give the okay to spend our money.

bdorman264
3 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich Patience my dear, patience……:)

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich  @bdorman264 I need some pet insurance Bill.

bdorman264
3 years 4 months ago

@belllindsay  @ginidietrich I actually think we have access to that product. To me, it looked kind of like dental insurance, which really doesn’t pay much. Policies like that give you about $1,000 in coverage and you usually pay half until you hit your $1,000 limit and that’s usually one office visit. 
 
I also think you can buy it online, you might Google it and see what is available and if it’s worth anything. 
 
Damn insurance………..:).

jfvillena
jfvillena
3 years 4 months ago

Everyone is in sales… 🙂 MT @franciscojsaez: “@davidsvet: To Sell is Human… http://t.co/FNSAXIscV5 via @ginidietrich” #ventas

claudeoggier
claudeoggier
3 years 4 months ago

Great book I can recommend @ginidietrich: To Sell is Human: A communicator’s view on Dan Pink’s new book http://t.co/UC5A5ItrM2

MSchechter
MSchechter
3 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich Looks like we’re sharing a brain. Wrote about selling for the newsletter today.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

MSchechter There could be worse things than sharing a brain with you

ValerieSimon
ValerieSimon
3 years 4 months ago
If ever a word were in need of PR counsel, it would be “sales.” My career in sales was purely accidental…when I am excited about what I am doing I talk about it! And when you share your enthusiasm  about a service with people who have a need for that service… sales happen. But although I spent a great deal of my career in sales, I confess my voice often trailed off when asked to introduce myself. “Senior Vice President of (mumble) sales.” Today, I am proud of that sales background and recognize that those sales skills have been a critical factor… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@ValerieSimon Sales needs PR counsel. LOL!! And I agree with you – everyone is a sales army.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 4 months ago

AllyK4 Thanks for the share! SpinSucks

RebeccaTodd
3 years 4 months ago
I tend to integrate my various aptitudes in to each other- to me, sales is communication,  communication is education… So it doesn’t surprise me to see you use your English degree to sell any more than it does when I use mine. I spend quite a bit of time trying to change this negative perception of sales, with mixed results. In my mind, I would like to partner with my customers to help make their lives even slightly easier. It is my job to serve them if and when they need it. Of course, this makes me nearly impossible to sell to. Recently, a sales person… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@RebeccaTodd I definitely will take you up on that!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

RTRViews xoxo

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 4 months ago

lizabutcher Thanks for the share Liza! 🙂 SpinSucks

lizabutcher
lizabutcher
3 years 4 months ago

belllindsay no prob

cathielolo
cathielolo
3 years 4 months ago

johnhaydon Did someone paint this as a likeness of your real self?

trackback

[…] To Sell is Human: A Communicator’s View on New Business […]

dbvickery
3 years 4 months ago

I agree with “everyone is in sales”. However, I know I much prefer to educate, to “excite” about the possibilities, and to do business analysis (find out what the client REALLY needs)…versus sell. I’m not a great “go for the no” kind of guy. I’d rather have a meaningful and fruitful discussion, actually demonstrate value, and then not have it still come down to lowest bidder. Especially when there will always be a lowest bidder, and that is frequently because they will work the change order process once they get their foot in the door.

ginidietrich
3 years 4 months ago

@dbvickery I’m with you – I’m really terrible at go for the no. But I have gotten better at disqualifying people. One of my favorite things to say is, ‘I don’t think we’re the right fit for you.” It’s amazing what rejection does to a prospect.

trackback
3 years 2 months ago

[…] situations aside, though, there is a sales aspect to a lot of what we do. And there’s nothing wrong with recognizing, or reveling in that. Fortunately for me, […]

trackback

[…] Sales was the king-of-the-hill – marketing’s job was to support the sales team. […]

trackback

[…] made me think about how important timing is when it comes to business development – both for new business and public relations […]

trackback

[…] situations aside, though, there is a sales aspect to a lot of what we do. And there’s nothing wrong with recognizing, or reveling in that. Fortunately for me, […]

wpDiscuz
[postmatic_subscribe_widget]