“The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is, you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that.” –– Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman, 1949)

I never thought of myself as being in the moving business until I read Dan Pink’s latest book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.

Let me explain.

Dan’s book comes at the right time for CPAs, business professionals, and just about everybody. In today’s rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, we all find ourselves in the “moving business.” That is, persuading, convincing, influencing, and teaching others to adopt new ideas, innovate, and constantly improve things — or as Dan says, “moving people to part with resources — whether something tangible like cash or intangible like effort or attention — so that we both get what we want.” He even backs it up with research.

Although only one in 10of us are in “sales,” the other nine of us spend 40 percent of our time, or 24 minutes per hour, in what he calls non-sales selling. This book is the guide to the why, what and how of non-sales selling, and I highly recommend this book for everyone in business today, especially CPAs.

Yes, even CPAs. In this interview with our own Bill Sheridan, Dan explains why we are all in sales and how this relates to CPAs today.

In the interview, he talks about three driving forces behind this increasing need for non-sales selling:

  1. Rise of small entrepreneurs. (See our post, Are We Entering the Age of the Small Firm)
  2. Elasticity. Work has moved from segments, silos and discrete functions to elastic, boundary-crossing skills where everyone is in sales.
  3. Rise of ed-med and professional services, which requires convincing people to change or adopt new approaches.

We’re all in sales, like it or not! We’re all in the moving others business.

He talks about the new A-B-Cs (remember Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross?) of selling as Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. I love how he connects the latest research from the positive psychology movement to non-sales selling. His book is full of resources, stories, research, and useful examples of how to apply his ideas to almost every situation (from e-mail subject lines to signage to pitches). I also love the idea of becoming “servant sellers,” making what we do and sell “personal and purposeful,” an idea that is sure to appeal to many CPAs who loathe the idea of selling.

He goes on to talk about one skill that will be a constant amidst the constant evolution of skills required by the changing world. In a “world of flat organizations and tumultuous conditions — and that’s our world” fixed skills will be punished and elastic and flexible skills will be prized, according to Pink (and I agree). In that world of increasing change, the one common skill will be the ability to move others or to be adept at non-sales selling.

As a CEO of a non-profit professional association (the Maryland Association of CPAs), I realized that we (and I) have been in the moving business since 1901. Moving the CPA profession and our members forward, moving the market to CPAs and their services, moving students to our profession, and moving legislative and regulatory proposals on behalf of our members by moving legislators . Today we find ourselves moving our members faster in response to changing technology, new generations and expectations, new ways of learning and participating and new innovations in the Profession and business world.

We are in the moving business, and this book is a wonderful resource to help you … well, get moving!

After reading this book, I think I am changing my title from CEO to CMO — Chief Movement Officer.

Are you in the moving business? if so, tell us how in the comment section.

More resources on moving people:

Dan Pink was also the inpiration behind our Idea Store which is another moving tool.

And here are our on-demand CPE titles on business development (contact Pam@macpa.org if you are intersted in live on-site or e-libraries for your team):

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