The PMRG ANC conference is the Pharmaeutical Market Research Group Annual National Convention.

Daniel Pink, author of Drive and To Sell is Human (and as we’re told, he presented one of the top ten most watched Ted talks) opened the PMRG ANC Conference this morning with his passionate talk about sales and selling. He has a great presenting style (expected for someone who used to write speeches) with a minimal amount of slides and a focus more on the content of his words, with the slides to punctuate a point.

He tells us the key to providing great presentation is Brevity, Levity and Repetition (which he said twice). He told us that people, on average, don’t view sales and selling fondly. He surveyed 7000 people and asked them what the first word was that came to mind when thinking of “sales” and selling”. The image at the top here shows the word cloud results of that, where the most used word was Pushy. Sleazy, slimy and smary, so Daniel tells us, didn’t make the cut to the seven dwarves.

He then asked people “what’s the first image that comes to mind hen thinking of “Sales” or “Selling”? Interestingly, people thought of a car salesman, and within that, a bad salesman selling a bad car. No women were thought of in the imagery of “Sales” and “Selling”.

He says that people he has spoken to says that they’re in the business of problem solving but Pink tells us to be in the business of PROBLEM FINDING instead.

Pink gets us to do a little exercise. He asks to click our fingers 5 times with our dominant hand. From there, use that hand to draw a capital E with your middle finger to your forehead. Apparently, if you draw the E from your own perspective (so someone else would read it the wrong way around) or from someone else’s perspective, so they could read it properly, says a lot about our empathy levels. For those who might be interested my E was in the perspective so other people could read it!

In another survey, Pink surveyed 7000 people and asked them, on a scale of 1 to 100, how much of their time is spent influencing people to give up their attention, time or money in exchange for something they value? The average was 41, so that’s 24 minutes of every day being used to influence other people’s behaviours.



Pink shows us a screenshot out of the movie of Glenn Gary Glenn Ross where the character in the movie is giving sales training. This screenshot (the pic here to the side) shows the commonly known “Always Be Closing” acronym. Pink then tells us that if you’re under 40 years of age, this is a chalk board. Pink then introduces a new ‘A,B,C”: Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity.

Pink tells is that the more powerful we feel, the less we empathise with others and so, it’s important that when we are feeling powerful, or are powerful people who do exert a lot of influence, to think about helping others and allowing them to grow. This actually, in turn, helps us become better sales people.

Successful negotiators recommend that you should mimic the mannerisms of your negotiation partner for a better deal as this shows empathy. Research shows that ‘mimicry’ is extremely affective and is one was that we socialize better (study taken from evolutionary psychology). He says that mimicry allows us to understand their perspective more.

Daniel tells us there is lots of people who keep telling us that extroverts do better in sales and are more likely to get hired. In fact, Pink tells us, it IS the extroverts that did better in sales but not by that much in comparison to introverts. Actually it’s the ambiverts that sold more sales software. Why ambiverts? Pink tells us we’re much more attune and ‘we (ambiverts) know when to shut up, we know when to speak up’.

Pink tells us to stop using numbers when trying to persuade people. Instead ask people things like “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Pink tells us that the fascinating thing is that people start to agree with you more strongly when you ask questions this way, and start finding their own reasons to work with you. So his take-away here is PERSUADE WITH QUESTIONS. Get a reaction out of people. Questions often beat answers.


At the end of Pink’s talk, I ask him if asking questions as part of the sales process in itself might be in danger of becoming the ‘smarmy, sleazy, slimy’ sales talk people begin to associate with sales? Pink outlined that it’s important to give the facts first and ask these style question to help your knowledge on a more consultative approach, and not to ask rhetorical questions like a politician would.

On the whole, an interesting and entertaining talk, a good opener for the PMRG conference with plenty of practical and quick-to-install advice with interesting facts behind Pink’s suggestions.