I just started reading Dan Pink’s book To Sell Is Human.
In the book, Pink demonstrates how ‘Sales’ – that great big ugly, scary, stinky concept – isn’t what it used to be.
He explains how we’re almost all salespeople in one way or another, whether we realise it or not.
As an entrepreneur or marketer, you’ve probably come to this conclusion yourself.
Some of us are trained in old-school ‘reel-em-in’ sales techniques, but most of us aren’t.
And it’s this ‘softer’, and – dare I say it – more advanced form of sales that people respond to better, in a world now saturated with marketing messages.
As early as the second chapter of To Sell Is Human, Pink outlines an important concept that can help anyone understand selling…
In the book, Pink talks to Larry Ferlazzo, a high-school teacher in the US.
Ferlazzo likens teaching to selling, because “as teachers we want to move people.”
Think about it: all you’re really doing when you ‘sell’ is moving someone to act.
Same as a teacher does:
They need to move a student to pay attention… or understand a concept… or change the way they think about something.
When we move someone, we need them to give up a resource.
It might be time, attention, contact details or yes, sometimes even money.
But we do it so they trade that resource for something they’d be better off with:
Information, understanding, or a product that gives them a desired result.
The challenge here, as Ferlazzo points out, is to “create the conditions where they can move themselves.”
Agitation vs Irritation
Ferlazzo explains the distinction between two things we can do to move others:
Irritation… and agitation.
Irritation is “challenging people to do something that we want them to do.”
Agitation is “challenging them to do something that they want to do.”
Think about that for a moment.
The concepts seem very similar. In fact, I’d never really noticed much difference between the words agitation and irritation.
But the difference is actually the key to successfully moving people. And yes, selling.
Because irritation doesn’t work.
Not in the long-term, anyway.
As Harry Browne famously said, the secret of selling anything is to “find out what people want and help them get it”.
Simple enough advice, but so many of us get it wrong.
How to agitate successfully
As an entrepreneur, you should become an ‘agitator’.
Sounds weird, right?
I don’t mean like a political agitator, wilfully stirring up feelings on controversial issues… like Donald Tr*mp is currently doing.
I mean become someone who knows exactly what their prospect wants, and then moves them to get it.
So: find out what your prospect’s goals are, and then simply frame what you have to offer in that context.
Don’t try to irritate your way to a sale, or a sign-up. That’s for the short-term thinkers.
You’re in this for the long haul.
So, get agitating.
Challenge your prospect to do what they want to do, not what you want them to do.
Simple, but so effective.
Use your ears more than your mouth, and you’ll always be ahead of 99% of your competitors.