Wed, January 16 2013

You’re a salesman.  We all are. Or should be.

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

(Quick side note to those of you who subscribe to my blog via RSS or Feedblitz: Yesterday’s video didn’t render for you. I’m sorry it got blocked! If you didn’t get to see it, go here!)

I am reading Daniel Pink‘s new book, To Sell Is Human.  The central point of the book is this: Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, nonprofit staff trying to persuade people to rally to our cause, or parents trying to get our kids to do their homework, we spend our days trying to move others. As Pink puts it: “Do you earn your living trying to convince others?  Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.”

I agree with this - in fact, I’ve often said we’re all marketers, too.  Pink says that means we need three skills - the ABCs.  Not the old “always be closing” mantra of Glengarry Glen Ross, but rather attunement, buoyancy and clarity.  He means the ability to connect, a sense of resilience and clarity of purpose.  We all must learn to pitch, to improvise and to serve.

“Selling isn’t some grim accommodation to a brutal marketplace culture.  It’s part of who we are - and therefore something we can do better by being more human.”

We would all make the world a better place if we embraced the fact we can’t just be right in our fight.  The best idea in the world can’t advance without connecting to others.  We have to persuade others to join our effort.  And that isn’t dictating - it’s selling. Congratulations - you’re a salesman or a saleswoman.  And I am too.

  • Comment: (3)   


Hi Katya,

Great post! I totally agree. If everyone in the nonprofit sector had this mindset and was always selling, their causes would be flowing with tons of money and members, and they could get results and most likely solve the problem they are working on for good. Because most in the nonprofit sector don’t think this way, people and animals, continue to suffer. Land continues to be lost to overdevelopment that could have been preserved, etc.

Having the sales mindset gives you plenty of money for advertising, outreach, programs, staff, etc. I always say you have to always be selling.

Thank you for the wonderful post.


Posted by Kirt Manecke  on  01/16  at  08:04 AM

Katya, I’m reading it too!  In fact, I went to hear Daniel speak Monday evening and kept taking notes furiously.  Everything he has to say is so directly applicable to fundraising and the nonprofit sector.

I really like what he has to say about ELASTICITY, and how our skills are needing to spread across boundaries.  I’ve been preaching the end of silos for some time in nonprofits, particularly when it comes to the separation of fundraising and marketing.
I almost posted on the topic today, but was in the middle of a series on blogging…  But I agree it’s great food for thought and a ‘must read.’

Posted by Claire Axelrad  on  01/17  at  04:56 AM

Another worthy book on the subject of sales is Michael Bosworth’s What Great Salespeople Do. It’s a little more geared to the for-profit world, but I think many of the ideas would translate. Like Pink, he also talks about putting yourself in the shoes of your prospect and making an emotional connection (versus “Here is why we are so great.”).

Posted by Geoff Birmingham  on  01/23  at  02:14 PM

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