top of page

Book Notes #050 -To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink

In today's issue of this book club newsletter, I am happy to share my notes on To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink.

Daniel pink to sell is human

“Whether it’s selling in the traditional form or it’s non-selling selling, we’re all in sales now. We’re persuading, convincing, and influencing others to give up something they’ve got in exchange for what we’ve got."

- Daniel H. Pink



Rating: 4/5 ⭐️ (Good) Topic: Non-Fiction - Business, Psychology & Persuasion.

  • Main Ideas - Okay.

  • Examples & Stories - Good.

  • Engagement - Medium.



I really enjoy Daniel Pink's style of writing. His book Driven made a huge impact on my life as it taught me what intrinsic motivation meant and the importance of it when it comes to motivation. He tends to use good examples to make his point across, such as research papers, personal stories and anecdotes. This is the second book I've read from him. In "To Sell Is Human," Pink talks about a new evolution of selling called non-selling selling. "This broader definition of sales includes persuasion, influencing, and convincing others." When I started my marketing agency, a skill that I needed to learn quickly was sales. No clients = No income. I have to admit I was uncomfortable with the idea of needing to sell, but my discomfort of not paying bills on time was stronger. Naturally, I was open to learning everything and anything about sales. To my surprise, this has been a skill I'm grateful I have acquired and glad I pushed through the discomfort. I learned that sales is not about being pushy, manipulative or slimy. Sales is about allowing people to buy... Sales is about asking for their permission and consideration to be heard only if they are interested. Presenting proposals or offers that they might want or need... But most importantly, allowing them to reject them or you... Yes, that is hard to swallow for some, as being rejected always sucks. But that means that when done ethically, the buyer has the ultimate decision to say "no." The reason many people have such a tainted view on this topic is because of their own personal experiences with bad salespeople. And when I say "bad," I mean both people who don't have the right intentions as they only want your money. Or they are simply incompetent when it comes to sales and don't know how to communicate the value of what they have to offer. (I used to be one of these). As is mentioned in this book... “Dishonest dealings tend to drive honest dealings out of the market. When honest sellers opt-out, the only ones who remain are the shysters and charlatans.” Sales, persuasion or influence, in the broader sense, is a science and an art. Is a skill you can learn in order to change human behaviour. As you can imagine, this skill can be used for good or evil, but it is simply a tool. Communicating the value of what you have to offer is not easy. Especially when you are starting out, as you may be unsure if what you have to offer is any good in the first place. That is, until you keep working on improving your offers, products, services or propositions. Great salespeople have one main philosophy in mind. “There are products people buy, and then, there are products people are sold." This applies to business ideas, proposals and advice. Your job is to be as effective as possible in communicating the value of what you offer and matching them up with their personal needs. And if this is not the case, it is your job to inform them that they should go somewhere else to find what they are looking for... That is sales Offering things another person would want or need will increase the likelihood of them saying yes... This book explores the idea that, like it or not, we are all in sales now. Some of my favourite takeaways were not the main ideas of the book but were used as examples across different chapters...

  • Statement-based self-talk vs question-based self-talk: A common technique in influencing others. Using questions rather than statements.

  • Problem-solving vs. problem-finding: Problem-solving is reactional, and problem-finding is reflective.

  • The contrast principle: We often understand something better when we see it in comparison with something else than when we see it in insolation.

This is a good book to read on the topic of sales, influence and persuasion, but if you want to learn the skill, I recommend the Little Red Book of Selling, and I highly recommend Daniel Pink's Masterclass on this topic as well as his book Driven. This book is more of an exploration on topics such as sales, persuasion, influence and moving others. This book can be more approachable for someone who does not do sales for a living but does it indirectly. If there is one thing I have learned about influencing human behaviour is this... Learn to ask better questions, as they are more effective than mere statements. "People hate to be sold, but they love to buy." Hope this helps. Until next week! - Agustin



  • "The most effective tools for excavating people’s buried drives are questions."

  • "In the past, the best salespeople were adept at accessing information. Today, they must be skilled at curating it."

  • "The most effective self-talk of all doesn’t merely shift emotions. It shifts linguistic categories. It moves from making statements to asking questions."


❤️ Thank you for Supporting This Newsletter!

bottom of page