Are you working on your pitch?

You know, the one you’ll repeat at every holiday gathering in the next few weeks. It’ll sound like an elevator pitch at your company party, it’ll sound like a sales pitch at your friend’s company party, and it’ll sound like a defense argument at your family holiday party. But if you’re good, and you’ve got your pitch down, it should be relatively the same speech every time.

If you don’t have one yet, your “pitch” is a quick explanation of who you are and what you do. Sales managers will tell you this is important, but if you’re not a sales person…who cares? Apparently, everyone.

On Thursday night, I’m interviewing Daniel Pink, a number one New York Times bestselling business author. I’m already starstruck and bursting with questions, but I’m also annoyed. His new book “To Sell Is Human” annoyed me. Yes, it fascinated me, taught me something new, and shifted my perspective (the way all of his books do), but the main message of his book is that we are all sales people.

But, I DON’T WANT TO BE A SALES PERSON, so shut up Daniel! (No offense to sales people, especially the WCCO Radio sales force, you guys are awesome!) If I wanted to be in sales I would have sold those knives I got roped into hawking in high school. I was awful, and I hated it. I’m terrible at sales.

Too bad, suck it up, Daniel says. From now on, we’re all sales people, so we better get better at selling. Of course, he’s right. If you’re on social media, you’re selling. If you work outside the home, you’re selling. If you’re trying to persuade your child to do their homework, you’re selling. We can’t escape.

Daniel’s take on how to be a better seller is genius, studied and effective, and he will explain it further in our interview. (See, I’m selling my show at 9 p.m. Thursday on WCCO Radio.) But his book moved me to think deeper about why we are selling and what we’re selling. The answer is personal.

Sidebar: This is what I love about business authors. The really good ones are some of the most spiritual people on the planet. There’s always at least one nugget in every quality business book I read that advances the psyche. Business growth is enhanced by personal growth. Despite its location in the business section of the book store/Amazon, Pink’s book is also about introspection and self-awareness.

The sales adage “people don’t buy what you’re selling, they buy why you’re selling it” is proven again in Pink’s book. This can be applied to traditional sales of widgets, Cutco knives, or hockey raffle tickets. But you and I are selling you and I, so we need a really good answer to why.

Finding your why is tough emotional work, but once you have it, closing the deal gets easier, and you may even have a greater appreciation for what you do.

Some practical examples: (Yes these are real.)

Me: “Honey, eat your garbanzo beans.”

Eight-year-old son: “They look gross.”

Me: “They’re cute, and healthy, and it’s what I’m serving, now eat them!”


Me (with new approach after considering why): “You have basketball practice later and chick peas have lots of protein, they may give you more energy to play well.”


Another example: My friend Sheila is a salesperson in an upscale women’s boutique. She was moping one day about just selling rich people expensive things.

Me: “Does anyone ever come into the store and unload on you while shopping? Do they ever tell you personal stuff?”

Sheila: “Oh my god, all the time. You’d be shocked at some of the things they tell me!”

Me: “So it’s not just retail therapy?”

Sheila smiles. Her why is making people feel better if they’re having a hard day, and she’s really good at it.

I’m still annoyed by Daniel for calling us all sales people, but if we are, we may as well be good at it.

Join Daniel Pink and me at 9 p.m. Thursday @WCCOradio, and share your why.


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