A colleague and I recently went to a speaking event with Dan Pink for his new book: To Sell is Human. The basic idea I took away from his talk is that the old image of sales as, “always be closing” and used car salesmen is outdated. Today everyone has some sales content to their jobs and the amount of information that buyers and sellers have creates a far more equal playing field than in the past. As a result, the characteristics needed for success are different than aggression and unscrupulousness. Dan Pink identifies three necessary characteristics for the new sales environment: attunement, buoyancy and clarity. Buoyancy has to do with your ability to recover from the rejection and disappointment that is an inevitable part of sales. Clarity is about highlighting what is important rather than getting lost in the details. But by far the most important characteristic to me was attunement. Can you see the world through someone else’s eyes and tailor your message and solutions to that perspective? This is where the moms come in.
During the speaking event, Dan Pink demonstrated a study meant to measure attunement. In the study participants were asked to draw a capital “E” on their foreheads with a marker. The idea was that someone who drew the “E” from the viewer’s perspective rather than their own had more attunement. So Dan demonstrated but lacked the index card and tape from the study. He just drew the “E” right on his forehead with a red pen.
When he’d finished his point, it was obvious Dan wanted to wipe off the marker from his forehead. The host of the event (a man) generously offered his dry and completely ineffective cocktail napkin. Dan politely dabbed the red ink a few times to no avail. It was only when a mom in the audience offered Dan a wet wipe that he was able to clean off the marker. That mom knew what he needed and could see the situation from Dan’s perspective. She had attunement. Moms are filled with attunement. It was a lesson to me to spend a little more time to get the figurative wet wipe for a client rather than immediately offering the figurative dry cocktail napkin. My colleague, who is a mom as well, also noticed that Dan’s suit pants were too short. Just an attunement note for Dan’s tailor.