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Dan Pink's new book is "To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others." In it the author talks about the concept that people spend upwards of 40% of their day to day doing some sort of persuading, convincing, or influencing which in a way is selling. In Chapter 1 he makes the argument that the concept "that selling is dead" is a myth. He says in the United States 1 out of every 9 workers works in sales (or 15 million people). Even with the downturn in the economy from 2006 to 2010 sales is still the second largest occupational category in the US labor market. He says this is the same internationally as well with Canada, Australia, and Britain also having similar statistics.
He says while traditional sales jobs have remained pretty steady over the years the big increase in sales has come in the non- traditional selling. He says that the other 8 out of 9 people also engage in sales in "serving clients and customers" and "teaching, coaching, and instructing others." Therefore he said that 40% of the time of the US workforce is spent on selling.
In chapter 2 he continues by saying that selling is rising because the number of entrepreneurs are rising who inherently have to sell. In the US alone there are 21 million non-employer businesses (e.g. - consultants, freelancers) without any paid employees. He also says that 30% of Americans work on their own and this could grow by 65 million by 2020. And in the 16 OECD countries including France, Mexico, and Sweden, more than 90% of businesses have fewer than 10 employees. He says the biggest reason is the internet which has allowed more entrepreneurs to flourish as well as now the mobile world (e.g. - apps, mobile phones).
He says the other reason there is a growth of sales people is that companies are expecting new/multiple skills in all of theirs employees (elasticity). This shows up for example in how sales can be done at a large organization where every person a customer touches is a sales person. He says that organizations are looking for people with more than just fixed skills these days.
He says the third reason is the growth of what he calls Ed-Med or Education and Health Services. While these are not directly selling these professionals do convince others to part with resources in order to leave him/her better in the end. Professionals in both of these industries need to influence, persuade, and to change behavior while striking a balance between what others want and what you can provide to them.
All in all in these first two chapters Dan Pink says that while traditional sales may be stable there has been a rise in non selling sales for the reasons indicated above. Are you an entrepreneur, in Ed-Med, or in the need for elastic skills? If so you may be selling in the work that you do.
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.