About Andrus Purde

Head of marketing at Pipedrive. Very proud of the fun motivational quotes at the end of Pipedrive email notifications.

Hiring Update: We’ve Got A Spare Seat for a Marketing Analyst

Marketing Analytics GraphsWe at Pipedrive make sales software that ambitious teams in more than 100 countries love to use. Every day hundreds (and soon thousands) of new people start using our software. We know how they have discovered us, what they want to accomplish and how they engage with the product, but we want to tie the different pieces together better. Which is why we’re looking for a kick-ass Marketing Analyst to join our team in Tallinn, Estonia.

Here’s the to-do list:

  • Manage processes and tools that provide insights into user engagement as well as behaviour(s) that drive business results.
  • Manage tracking for acquisition channels and programs to make sure we can measure the impact of each ad, button, link and piece of content.
  • Do one-off analyses, queries and deep dives that help make business decisions and drive marketing campaigns.
  • Support the team with product and web tracking setup and making sense of the results.
  • Help to set up regular reporting and KPI dashboards.

Experience and skills we’re looking for:

  • Excellent analytical skills and passion for data-driven decision making.
  • Proficiency with SQL, Excel and basic statistical tools.
  • Strong knowledge of Google Analytics and/or its alternatives.
  • Experience cleaning and manipulating large datasets.
  • Strong verbal presentation and written communication skills.
  • SaaS and B2B startup experience is a plus, as is using SaaS analytics tools.
  • Good at building constructive relationships with colleagues and being a mensch overall.
  • High tolerance of the word why?

What we have to offer:

  • Competitive base pay + stock options package.
  • No corporate BS.
  • Loads of room for career development as you grow with the company.

If this is something for you, please get in touch via jobs-admin@pipedrive.com. Send your resume (in English) or link to your LinkedIn profile and please add a few lines on why we should pay extra attention to your application.

We’re hiring: Digital Marketing Manager, come join our team

Digital marketing toolkit2

We at Pipedrive build great sales software. So much so that our most important marketing channel by far is our customers telling their co-workers and friends about us. This has helped us grow to more than 50,000 paying users around the world and we’re growing fast.

Good old digital marketing has also worked well for us, and we’re looking for a superstar Digital Marketing Manager to take our performance marketing to the next level.

Here’s the to do list:

  • Testing and scaling paid media channels, including (but not limited to) PPC, retargeting, social ads, paid listings and referral programs. You’ll have a lot of freedom to execute your own ideas
  • Implementing campaign tracking prior to every campaign launch and tracking relevant KPI’s.
  • Constant data analysis to identify areas for improvement and improving our analytics stack, where necessary.
  • Working with our content marketers to optimize distribution of our content and helping to measure ROI.
  • Communicate you progress to the rest of the team via weekly and monthly digital marketing reports. Rest assured, not too much paperwork.

Experience and skills we’re looking for:

  • A proven track record in running successful online acquisition campaigns for a fast-growing business or within an agency. Previous B2B and SaaS marketing experience is a big plus.
  • Hands-on experience in Paid Search, Facebook Power Editor and other major digital marketing platforms. We expect you to hit the ground running.
  • Technically proficient with configuring analytics tools and building reports.
  • Analytical mindset. You like to test the options and let the numbers guide your decisions.
  • Results-driven. Enough said.
  • Good at building constructive relationships with colleagues, partners, media owners and agencies.

What we have to offer:

  • Competitive base pay + stock options package.
  • No corporate BS.
  • Loads of room for career development as you grow with the company.

The role is ideally based in our Menlo Park, CA office but you’re also welcome to work out of our Tallinn, Estonia office.

If this is something for you, please get in touch via jobs-admin@pipedrive.com. Send your resume (in English) or link to your LinkedIn profile and please add a few lines on why we should pay extra attention to your application.

A closed deal is just the beginning: how Falcon Social uses Pipedrive for managing customer success

falcon social screenshotMost companies use Pipedrive for managing sales, but many have found other clever uses for it. When we found out our software is used for managing customer success, we wanted to find out more. Especially since this was coming from Falcon Social, a fast-growing tech company with more than 100 Pipedrive users. We chatted to May Laursen, the company’s Marketing Operations Manager.

What is Falcon Social, and what’s the story so far?

Falcon Social is a social media management platform that enables enterprise teams to work together to achieve better business results. With a highly visual, user-friendly approach to workflow management, the Falcon platform includes products to Listen, Engage, Publish, Analyze and Manage—as well as custom onboarding and strategic integrations. Falcon Social is the digital partner of choice for Carlsberg, Pandora, Orangina Schweppes, Mentos, TomTom and many more.

The success of Falcon Social impressive. What has worked well for you in growing sales? 

From the very beginning, the product has basically sold itself – even before it was officially released, we had onboarded major customers like Carlsberg and Pandora. The key to our rapid growth is our unified approach to social media management as well as multi-cultural team representing more than 33 nationalities. We are experiencing a very low churn rate and a customer satisfaction level at 98%.

What kind of tools do you use for sales, marketing and social media management?

Besides our own platform for social media management, we use a variety of tools to manage, optimize and measure our activities across and within departments. To us, the most important features in productivity tools are the ability to collaborate in real-time as well as the possibility to integrate with other tools in our stack.

We have been using Pipedrive from the very beginning, and we now have over 120 active users and are adding more than a hundred new leads a day. In the early stages of the business, Pipedrive was solely used by the sales team, but we have now expanded the CRM to include our customer success, accounts and marketing teams too. Additionally, we use Zapier to connect Pipedrive with our other webapps like Mailchimp, ORBTR and, most importantly, Google Docs, from which we monitor all day-to-day operations.

We hear you recently extended Pipedrive use to your Customer Success team. What led you to this, and how has this worked out?

Pipedrive- Customer-Success_PipelineFor us, it made sense to profile the customer journey right from its inception as a lead/prospect in our sales funnel.

Rather than build an elaborate CRM system from scratch to map out our customers and engagement strategy, we decided to continue in Pipedrive, taking the ‘won’ deal, with all of the golden nuggets from the sales cycle, and use that to map out each customer’s specific ‘success’ criteria, together with the key financial/invoicing information. The project was concieved and run by Toni Hohlbein, our Special Operations Manager

Since our Customer Success team provides a lot of support to prospects during pre-sales, using Pipedrive helps us speak the same language as our sales colleagues, bringing our teams closer together. In the end, it also brings us closer to the customers, understanding their needs, as well as mapping their relationship with us. Win-Win. It’s early days, but so far, it’s working out really well.

While your social media management platform is for large companies, are there social media strategies or tips you’d recommend to startups and smaller businesses? What can almost anyone do better with social media?

Social media is a great way to interact with your target audience and engage as well as educate existing customers. We believe in original content and honest engagement – here’s a couple of tips from our own Social Engagement Manager, Mary Liebowitz:

  • Define your objectives and how you will measure the performance
  • Use clear and intriguing images in your social posts
  • Implement an editorial calendar for a manageable overview
  • Devise a plan for off hour and holiday social media coverage
  • Practice genuine engagement – have real conversations
  • Approach brands politely when interacting

What’s next for you and Falcon Social – any news to share? 

We’re constantly releasing new features and updates to our platform. At this stage we’re really excited about is the Falcon Priority Inbox that will enable community managers to monitor and prioritize incoming messages even more easily.

The Priority Inbox is designed using a “machine learning” algorithm to recognize patterns and classify new data points. Falcon uses this information to predict social interactions based on a customer’s previous activity.

Once collected they can calculate the probability of a string of words belonging to a specific category—for example, “important” or “influencer.” The category is based on the previous behaviour of the user and does not depend on the output from sentiment analysis which can be inaccurate.

Pro tip: you can get lots of great social media advice on Falcon Social blog, starting with this post about time management

Close the feedback loop with daPulse

daPulse is a collaboration tool that “gets everyone in sync by showing them the big picture. Instead of separating people by giving each a separate to-do list, daPulse shows a unified view, groups people together and helps them move fast in the same direction”. If this sounds interesting, you’ll be pleased to learn daPulse have recently added a Pipedrive integration.

The integration takes Deals that have been moved to the next stage and Notes sales people write in Pipedrive and turns them into updates pushed into the daPulse Sales feed. And you can comment and give “thumbs up” to each activity.


The way “Won” deals are displayed is especially nice:


When Notes in Pipedrive are visible to everyone, sales people have an easy way to share customer insights. According Iden Hershko from daPulse’s Customer Success team: the loop is closed when Product, R&D and Marketing act on these insights, and then watch improved results coming back from Sales. It also helps a lot to keep our Sales team happy and motivated. Anyone in our company who follows the Sales news feed, whether from Management, Product or Marketing, sees each successful sale. This gives the people in Sales company-wide recognition for their efforts and a celebration of their success.

daPulse has made a generous 50% discount to anyone that signs up to a free 30-day trial via clicking on this link. Alternatively, see how daPulse team uses the Pipedrive-daPulse combo.

World’s best writer/content marketer, please join our team

Pipedrive writer v3

People don’t usually tweet about the email notifications they get from companies, but they sometimes shout out about the ones we’ve sent. Our copywriting is far from perfect but we’ve treated all texts as assets rather than liabilities and, within reason, put serious effort into all of our written communication.  Also, our content marketing results are not half bad. We’ve now grown to a stage where we’d like a full-time writer-slash-content marketer to join our team and make our writing even better.

Here’s what the writer / content marketer will do:

  • Write our most important words in the app, on the website and in emails.
  • Produce helpful sales-related content for our blog and social media channels.
  • Actively participate in our content marketing planning and execution.
  • Edit the most important blog posts and emails that team members put out.
  • Look after our tone-of-voice. This may involve establishing things like a style guide, glossary, etc.

What we expect:

  • Ridiculously good command of written English.
  • 3+ years of writing and editing experience with an online brand or technology company.
  • Some content marketing experience.
  • Basic understanding of web tools and technology eg. the ability to change the colour of the link in an html email.
  • Some experience in sales is a big plus.

And here’s what we can offer:

  • Team members (and customers, for that matter) that appreciate well-written copy.
  • A great level of independence in producing content and managing our tone-of-voice.
  • A chance to contribute to turning Pipedrive into a (copy)writing and content marketing legend that will be featured in text books for thousands of years. (Hundreds of years at the minimum).
  • Competitive base pay and stock options
  • No corporate BS

We expect you to want to work in the office most work days, and you can pick between our new office in Menlo Park, CA or our Tallinn, Estonia office which was just selected the funkiest in the country.

If this is something for you, please get in touch via jobs-admin@pipedrive.com. Send your resume (in English) or link to your LinkedIn profile and please add a few lines on why we should pay extra attention to your application.

How to get media coverage, using Pipedrive

Lesson.ly-Logo-Transparent-400px-by-150pxMedia coverage? Isn’t Pipedrive sales management software?, you may ask. Well, Pipedrive is deal management software and lots of smart companies are using our tool to manage their hiring, fundraising, partnership or even media outreach pipelines, as is the case with Lesson.ly, maker of slick teaching and learning software. Lesson.ly have a well-oiled process for getting the word out, which Pipedrive is a small part of, so we had a chat with Conner Burt to find out more.

What’s the best way to go on about media outreach in your experience? 

First you have to find the publications most relevant for you. Do a Google search for “top [insert topic] blogs” and/or “top [insert topic] influencers”. You will be amazed at how many people out there have already done the work for you. What I typically do is find a few lists (usually “top 25″ or “top 10″) and find which people exist on all of them.

Then you want to prioritize them. Make a spreadsheet with their Twitter follower and blog subscriber count. (I use Feedly). Once you have your data, it’s easy to rank them most to least and work your way from top to bottom, but that’s not always the best. We find that people near the top are either overworked or too arrogant to help out. So, we mark the most influential for another day and proceed to reach out to those in the sweetspot of having a large enough following that they are worth reaching out to, but aren’t large enough to be out of reach. The sweet spot range is different for every niche, but in general, find people who have between 5k – 30k followers on Twitter.

Once this is done, how do you get bloggers and journalists to respond?

Getting a response is by far the most difficult part of outreach. We find two key tactics to work really well, especially when working with influencers nearing the top of the sweet spot.

1. Prove that you are worth talking to by including press you’ve already received. We include a link to our write up on TechCrunch and the write up on Fast Company about our partner non profit, The First Fund.

2. Follow up once per week until they respond. Keep in mind that just because they haven’t responded doesn’t mean they’re not interested. It probably just means they’re too busy. If however, they are not interested, you will at least find out for sure.

You’re using Pipedrive for managing media outreach. Why and how do you do that?

Media outreach can get pretty messy for us, especially since multiple folks are engaging various “prospects.” We quickly realized we needed a way to stay on the same page, so we started using Pipedrive.

Lesson.ly Pipedrive pipeline

Outreach can have a lot of back and forth, but we wanted to keep it simple, so we decided on these steps: No Contact > Contact Made > Committed > Delivered > Closed / Won. We start with No Contact so that any time someone has a new suggestion of a blog or news outlet we should be a part of, they can add it in without us actually having to contact them.

Once someone responds to our outreach, their deal record is moved to Contact Made. From there, if we have a formal commitment from the contact to push forward with a blog post or article, their deal record is moved to Committed. Once we have written a piece of content or the contact has written for us, they move to Delivered. Only when the content is published and live do we consider it closed. We’ve seen it happen many times where we’ll send content out, but it won’t be published for 2–6 weeks; Pipedrive helps us stay on top of that reality.

Any pro tips for using Pipedrive in this setup?

You can use the Products feature and deal name to improve the transparency of the pipeline. We use the outreach pipeline for both earned and owned media, because our goal is to have both of these coming from each of our outreach contacts. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, “owned media” is content that we will post on our site, but is written by someone else. “Earned media” is content that we will write, but it will be posted on someone else’s site. When using Pipedrive, we designate if the deal will be owned or earned in the deal name for quick access, but also have both as separate products to attach to each outreach deal.

It’s useful to define some custom fields too. We are constantly adding new opportunities to the outreach pipeline, so we keep it straight using the Confidence Rating custom field. The more important or influential a site is, the more stars it has. This is really helpful because we like to mix it up and contact to 2–3 high influence opportunities and 2–3 low-medium influence sifying our content portfolio.

(Note from editor: we at Pipedrive are using the “Deal value” field for the same purpose – both options help to prioritise ongoing conversations.)

We use a custom field labeled “Why?” to designate which buyer persona(s) we are targeting for that particular outreach deal. This allows us to stay on the same page about how we are going to tailor the communication and content to fit that specific persona’s needs.

Tell us more about buyer personas

We have done a lot of research to identify who we are targeting as a business and have turned it into six unique buyer personas. The ultimate goal is to use this as a guidepost for our inbound and outbound lead generation efforts. For example, we have a buyer persona named “Client Satisfaction”.

  • Titles: Director of Client Success, Director of Customer Ops
  • Primary Business Goal: Client Satisfaction
  • Economic Buyer Status: 5 (1-10, 10 being the highest)
  • Interests: Renewals, Upsells, Client Onboarding, Product Training, Usage
  • Barriers to a Sale: Budget, Lack of Content, Higher Priorities
  • Our Best Client that resonate with [Persona]: Tinderbox
  • Use Cases: Client Onboarding, Ongoing Client Education
  • % Focus: 25%

Knowing this info about clients tells us what blogs they are probably reading, who they follow on social media, and provides a basis for our sales team to find specific outbound prospects using Linkedin, Salesloft, and other tools.

Any other tools you use alongside Pipedrive? 

For one thing, the Zapier–Pipedrive integrations allow us to add organization and people records right from Google Docs. We have a series of standard person fields that we want imported into pipedrive (name, title, company, email, phone, address, etc). We populate this spreadsheet with new leads (either through manual sourcing or automatically through Salesloft. From there, every 15 minutes the “Zap” runs, and folks are automatically added.

GDocs to Pipedrive Switching gears – please share some creative uses of Lesson.ly.

I love to talk about Datasift, because they are growing so quickly, and Lesson.ly is facilitating that growth by giving their product team an easy and affordable way to keep the Datasift team on the same page about product updates, which happen often. Traditional learning management systems—what people in the space call LMSs—aren’t suited for these fast-paced business environments. Our platform is all about usefulness and accessibility, not high-minded theory or overcomplicated workflows for the sake of appearing more valuable, while actually providing less.

Outside of the box, Lesson.ly is being used by marketing whiz Jay Baer as a digital supplement to his book. Short lessons follow chapters on various topics.

Finally – what’s next for Lesson.ly?

Priority #1 is to stay laser focused on disrupting the learning software space by providing a dead simple and affordable application that clients love and use. We do, however, believe that Lesson.ly will power other learning environments in the medium to long term.

We see brands and organizations better leveraging teaching opportunities. For example, every product manual should be a fun, engaging lesson. Waiting in hospitals, organizations should teach expecting mothers about their diet, or heart-unhealthy males about changing their habits. We’ll see more philanthropic uses of Lesson.ly – like we do at our sister nonprofit, the First Fund – where we use the application to help educate first grade parents on college saving tactics.

In general, we think Lesson.ly will change the way people think about teaching and learning. To get there, we’ve got aggressive hiring plans and sales targets.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 17.25.14

Step by step: how Sols fixes our feet and closes deals with the Pipedrive+Yesware combo

Meet SOLS, the young tech company that is about to change the way we walk. SOLS solves foot pain and uncomfortable shoes with custom 3D-printed insoles which promise a perfect fit and better performance. As Wired puts it:

Sols creates kinetic orthotics using a stack of technology similar to what Tony Stark might have invented if he were a foot fetishist.

sols soles


We were thrilled when we caught the company co-founder Joel Wishkovsky tweeting:

So we reached out to find out more on what Sols is doing, and how they go about closing deals.

What is the story of SOLS?

Kegan and I started SOLS because we’re excited about using 3D technology to improve the quality of people’s lives. Most of us have dealt with foot pain at some point in our lives; while traditional orthotics seek to alleviate that pain, they’re not only costly and cumbersome, they’re often ineffective. 3D scanning and printing address all of those issues: the technology is incredibly accurate, and 3D printing lets you customize the orthotic by building in prescription adjustments instead of addressing them after production with imprecise techniques. The technology can be used by anyone with a smart device and an internet connection.

The orthotics industry is long overdue for improvement and upheaval; people deserve to be able to walk longer, run faster, and live their lives without pain. That’s where SOLS comes in.

Before talking shop, is there anything our blog readers should know about our feet and shoe soles? Any tips or tricks that make a big difference to well-being?

Your foot health is intimately tied to your overall health. Athletes have known this for a long time, which is why they spend so much money on their footwear and take care of their feet so religiously.

The biggest tip we could give readers is to get their foot alignment analyzed by a professional (either with a podiatrist or at a specialty retail store). A significant portion of back, leg, and hip pain is directly related to a biomechanical misalignment in their feet. Getting custom orthotics or wearing different footwear could quickly relieve their issues. Also, these types of problems compound over time — letting small pains go unattended will make the problem worse and worse over time.

What is your sales process like and what sales stages are you working with?

Our sales process starts with podiatrists, physical therapists, and chiropractors. The vast majority of our leads come to us through word-of-mouth introductions and from conference connections. Any potential provider with whom we’ve connected goes into the “Contact” bucket; if they show any interest — like emailing us for more information — they move into the “Interested” bucket. After we’ve spoken with them and they have specifically said they are interested in our products and in being a provider, they get moved to the “Very interested” bucket.

We’re pre-launch right now, so we consider a win to be a medical provider joining our Launch Partner program. We don’t accept all podiatrists, physical therapists, and chiropractors as Launch Partners — only the ones with the best reputation in their local markets.

What has worked well for you in growing sales?

We’ve targeted our designs and approach to giving the end user what they want: an orthotic that is extremely accurate, lightweight, beautiful, durable, and feels like part of their foot! Many potential patients have reached out and referred their medical professionals to us — when we contact them about SOLS based on their patient’s recommendation, we’ve noticed a higher conversion rate since customer interest in the product has already been confirmed. Both patients and providers are very enthusiastic about the cutting-edge aspect of the technology.

In what way are you using Pipedrive and Yesware together, and how do the different tools enhance each other?

Yesware and Pipedrive together are great! On average, a sale usually involves 2.8 interactions with providers (most of which occur over email). Yesware allows us to auto-tag these emails to go right into our pipeline.

We look at the weekly total volume of activity and compare it to previous weeks’ performance; we use those metrics in combination with our close rates to measure productivity.

Favorite thing about this setup?

Our favorite thing about Pipedrive is its simplicity. We’re a lean startup, so we like to implement tools that work straight out of the box. In the future, when our sales process become more advanced, we’ll be able to tie in the more features of the software. Pipedrive does a good job of providing both basic and advanced features — and I assume over time they’ll get even better and more advanced, especially around data analysis and reporting.

And Yesware enables us to quickly add email activity (which is a big part of our communication to potential providers) right into Pipedrive which saves us lots of time.

What’s next for you and SOLS – any news to share?

We’re launching publicly in April!

 We wish Joel and the SOLS team good luck with the launch! I personally can’t wait to try SOLS on my feet, and – for the record- I never expected to say this about shoe soles.

pipedrive yeswareIf you’d like to use Yesware to send your email into Pipedrive automatically, they are kindly offering 3 free months of their Enterprise product free to Pipedrive users. It’s a limited time offer, so get it quick.

Let Torpio handle your small repetitive tasks

We often get questions along the lines of:

We have lots of standard “admin” tasks that need to be completed when we set up a new client. Is there a way to automate this?

We haven’t built IF … THEN … logic into Pipedrive because no good software can include all good feature ideas. Luckily the good people over at Torpio have built a service that lets you add automation tasks in Pipedrive, and in other software.

What you can do with Torpio

Torpio LogoTorpio lets you easily add functionality and integrate cloud apps such as Pipedrive. For example:

- create a set of Tasks in Pipedrive when a deal reaches a certain stage. So when when a deal is moved to “Verbal YES” stage, tasks “Prepare contract” and “Schedule training” can be created automagically.

- have other software get busy when a deal reaches a certain stage. For example, you can create an invoice in Freshbooks when a deal has reached a certain stage in Pipedrive. (And vice versa eg. create a Pipedrive Task when someone has completed payment)

- create automation tasks in other pieces of software, completely unrelated to Pipedrive. You could collect events from your website and trigger emails in whatever marketing system when the same person visits a page a couple of times. Or send an administrator an email every time an invoice is automatically created, with access to a form to update the line items and then actually send the invoice.

You can do all this wizardry by creating and installing scripts, written in JavaScript. Don’t let the word “script” put you off if you’re not a coder. Torpio offers a growing number of ready-made scripts and if you don’t find what you need, you can hire a developer to write Torpio scripts on sites such as Elance or Freelancer. And if you are a developer, you’ll love the way Torpio handles webhooks.

Check out Torpio

Different tools for different types of connections and automations

Torpio lets you create more elaborate connections, and automate Tasks within Pipedrive.

Many of our users that need more basic connections, love Zapier. This service lets you create connections between different software extremely super easily. For example: if someone signs up to your newsletter via MailChimp, that person can automagically be added to Pipedrive as a new deal. We’ve written about Zapier before.

If you need something completely bespoke, you’re welcome to roll up your sleeves and build your own features and connections, using our sales software API.

Last but not least, we have a growing number of ready-made integrations.

We’ve built an electronic sales gong. Want one?

According to several business leaders, every sales team needs a massive Balinese gong. Whenever someone closes a deal or accomplishes something great, chiming a gong lets team members know and acts as a mini-celebration.

This works great for teams sitting in the same room, but in this day and age an increasing number of teams is spread around the world and/or with people out on the road.

Buying a portable gong for each team member is hardly a solution, so we’ve built an electronic sales gong. You can connect it to your Pipedrive account and let it chime whenever someone marks a deal “Won” (or “Lost”) in the relevant pipeline. Here’s a quick demo:

This prototype sports a Raspberry Pi board inside and a 3W speaker, so it serves its purpose well in a small or medium-sized office. If you’d like the whole floor to hear about closed deals, there’s a headphone jack connection available as well.

Would you like an electronic gong?

We built this prototype for fun with help from hardware specialists at Krakul. While we can’t pretend to know a lot about devices, we’re happy to make more of those if people like them.

Because there’s a Raspberry PI inside the prototype, and because the device is hand-made, the price for the prototype version is around $100-150. If more people are interested, the price drops to $50 or so. If you’d like one, please show your interest via this form. And if you have any feedback or ideas, please use the form or add your comment below.

We chatted to Dan Pink, the author of ‘To Sell Is Human’

Dan Pink is one of top 50 business thinkers according to Harvard Business Review and the author of five provocative books about the changing world of work, including the long-running New York Times bestsellers, A Whole New Mind and Drive. (In other words, he probably didn’t need this introduction.)

to-sell-is-human-daniel-h-pinkIn To Sell Is Human, his latest book, Pink states the obvious but often overlooked fact that sales today is completely different than it has been for most of history. Today everyone is in sales, independent of whether your job title contains the word sales or not and no matter whether we like it or not. Dan shines a light at the trends that have brought us here, proposes the new ABC of Selling (hint: it’s not “Always Be Closing”), shows why the traditional wisdom that extraverts make the best sales people doesn’t prove true and much more, all that in his research-backed and yet humorous way.

As a long-time fan of Pink’s work, I was thrilled Dan took the time to have a chat for our blog.

What motivated you to write To Sell Is Human?

Several things.  One of them was that I went back and looked at how I was spending my own time and I realized I was spending an enormous amount of my time selling in some sense.  I was trying to talk to magazine editors out of giving me a stupid assignment or trying to persuade a book editor to make that change or trying to get my kids to do something.

And the other driver was I wrote a book a few years ago called Drive about the science of motivation, and that book found that there’s certain kinds of motivators, particularly something I call an if/then motivator as in “If you do this, then you get that”, that are very good for simple tasks, are not so good for complex tasks.  I was always wondering why do we compensate salespeople only with sales commissions?  Is that a mistake?  Some readers started asking me that question and then I started looking around at sales, something I’ve never written about before. There wasn’t a lot of intelligent material on that, so I decided to give it a try.

Interview with Dan Pink

Who has more to learn from this book – people active in sales or people without the word “sales” in their job title?

Probably that second group has more to learn.  A lot of us don’t think of ourselves as salespeople, and I think that’s a mistake because we are selling it all the time. I also think that people who aren’t in sales have certain kinds of stereotypes and certain biases against sales, and what I tried to do in the book is correct those and try to say that, like it or not, we’re all in sales, and secondly, sales isn’t what it used to be.  Sales has changed more in the last ten years than in the previous hundred.

How would you pitch the book, using one of the six pitching methods you’ve described in the book?

I think I’d have to go with the question pitch. We pitch too often with statements and not enough with questions, and what the research shows is if the facts are clearly on your side, pitching with questions is enormously effective.  It gets people to reason things through.  So if I have to pick one of those six for this book I would go with a question pitch, so something like “If we’re all in sales, don’t you think you should get a little better at it?”

One of the things that surprised me in the book was that positive self-talk that so many people associate with sales is actually not that effective.  Could you please explain why is this and what’s the alternative?

Here’s the thing, it is effective, but it’s not the most effective thing that somebody can do. Typically when we try to prepare for a sales call or do something important, inevitably we talk to ourselves.  We narrate our lives, explain things to ourselves and so forth.  As you would say it’s called self-talk.

The typical advice is when you go into an important encounter like that, say a sales call, that your self-talk should be very positive and very affirmative.  “I can do this.  I got this.”  Research shows that doing that is absolutely better than going in a neutral way.  But that positive self-talk is not as effective as something else, and it doesn’t relate to positivity or negativity.

It’s what scholars call interrogative self-talk, which is instead of saying to yourself “You can do this” is to ask yourself, “Can you do this?”  The reason for that is that questions by their very nature elicit an active response.  So if I ask you or myself a question as opposed to making a statement then at some level it’s more engaging.

You or I, whoever your audience is, has to process that a little bit. If I go into a sales call and ask myself: “Can you do this?”  At some level I have to answer, and the way I answer is really important.  I can answer “Last time I did this sales call I didn’t do a good enough job of listening, and so I’ve got to make sure I listen more carefully.” So what are you doing there?  You’re preparing.  You’re rehearsing.  You’re practicing.  And that ends up being more muscular than the kind of chest thumping “I can do this, I got this” kind of self-talk.

Then, one of the things you also describe in the book is the massive shift from the world where buyers need to be careful (caveat emptor)  to one where sellers need to do that (caveat venditor). Does this affect all walks of life, or are there any areas where the old-fashioned manipulative selling is more effective and will remain to be more effective?

Well let’s go back to the reasons for that.  Why do we have the principle of caveat emptor, buyer beware?  The reason we have the principle of buyer beware comes from a certain set of economic conditions.  Those economic conditions were that the sellers always had more information than the buyer.  When the seller has a huge information advantage, the seller can rip you off, no question about it.

But what’s happened in many, many markets is that we’ve gone from a world of information asymmetry to one closer to information parity where you and I have in some ways equal access to information.  So it’s harder for me to rip you off.  So that’s a world of seller beware, and so that’s the big change. Is it true everywhere?  I don’t think so.

That said, I’m struggling to think of an example where in what kind of market where sellers have a huge amount more information than the buyer ever could.  Do you have a particular market in mind?

I was recently talking to a colleague who spent several summers selling educational books door-to-door. The company’s ways have been the same for the last 30 or 40 years, and they’re doing record summers, although it seems there’s more information available online and there are less reasons to actually buy these books.

I don’t have a good response to that, although what you see more broadly is door-to-door selling in the United States is almost nonexistent.  So it might be a function of if you’re dealing with prospects and customers who for whatever reason have been locked out of the access to information you might be able to get an unfair advantage that way.  I don’t see it happening in many markets.

In fact one of the big things retailers are dealing with is the ubiquity of pricing information and consumer ratings on things, and so it’s hard particularly in the product business to have any kind of huge information advantage.  Maybe you have a fleeting advantage if you have a totally new product that no one has seen before, but even that kind of advantage evaporates pretty quickly.

But I see your point.  I don’t wanna suggest that we’ve gone to a world of perfect information, of exact parity, where buyers and sellers in all circumstances for all things are evenly matched.  I don’t think that’s the case, but we’re moving to that direction.

In the age of marketing automation and lead nurturing, do you think that the importance of face-to-face and human-to-human contact is on the rise or will technology kind of be a more important component in sales?

It could be both actually.  It depends in some ways on what you’re selling.  There are certain kinds of things that are purely transactional where buyers and sellers are evenly matched, and I think with transactional kinds of things the face-to-face matters that much.  If I am looking for, say, some new razorblades for my razor, who cares about face-to-face?  It’s essentially a commodity product and there’s transparent pricing out there.

With other kinds of things, particularly in business-to-business sales, it might matter more because a lot of what’s happening in B2B,  complex sales and higher ticket items and services, the buyer doesn’t necessarily know precisely what he or she needs. There that face-to-face contact with another human being can really help the buyer understand what he or she needs, help surface hidden problems and do all kinds of things that would be difficult to do in a purely automated way.

So I think that it’s both. Your question is very astute and there is sort of a bifurcation of sales.  Some things are purely transactional; others require a higher touch.  There’s not much in the middle though.

I wrote a piece a long time ago for Wired about the broader phenomenon about  the hollowing out of the middle and the move toward bimodal distributions of all kinds of things.  We tend to think that everything is almost always distributed along a bell curve.

What I was suggesting is that there’s a new kind of distribution going on that I called a well curve that looks like a well.  It’s a U and what you have is you have not much in the middle but a lot on the edges.  There is a move towards certain kind of bimodal distribution in a lot of areas, and this could just be another example of that.

Switching gears, if we’re all in sales now we’re also always on the buyer side. Do we as buyers of goods and ideas need to behave any differently than we used to?

What I tried to make clear in the last chapter of the book, is the idea that what we should be doing is serving first and selling next.  We’re always selling in some way.  We’re always persuading, convincing, trying to move people.  I think the most effective way to do that though is to serve people.  But your question is very interesting.  What does that look like from the other side?

I think that from the other side I don’t think we’ve obliterated buyer beware, and I think that there there are a lot of people out there trying to influence us, so we need to be very astute about how we process this.

If the primary goal of sales is to serve, but yet most of the compensation schemes for people in sales and sometimes also non-sales seems to be tied to the old “always be closing”.  Do you see a way how to close that gap?

In today’s New York Times there’s a story about companies that are rethinking sales commissions, and I’ve written about this before too.  We tend to think that the only way that salespeople will do anything is if you give them a commission.  If you sell then you get paid, if you don’t sell then you hit the bricks.  For more transactional, simple sales I think that  makes sense and it’s very consistent with the research on the science of motivation.

When you get to more complicated sales where it’s much more consultative, where you’re trying to understand the other side’s business, build a long-term relationship and be a trusted advisor as much as a transactional salesperson, I think there’s an argument that sales commissions might actually erode the relationship.  Sales commissions can lead to people gaming the system.  They can actually be enemies of collaboration among individuals.  If you and I are both individually commissioned salespeople, why in god’s name should I ever help you?  I should probably try to steal your business.

Businesses need to challenge the orthodoxy that commission are the only or the best way to compensate salespeople. There’s a lot of practical evidence out there showing that companies that have architected a different approach end up doing quite well. It’s easier to do in a smaller privately held company, but even public companies like Microchip Technologies down in Phoenix, Arizona is doing $6 billion a year in sales without commissioned salespeople.  So the key point here is really organizations really need to look into this, particularly as sales becomes more complex.

The book has been out now for six months or so.  Is there anything in the time this book has been out, is there anything that you think differently about now or anything that you actually feel more strongly about that you’ve written about?  

Books are like software in some sense.  There’s always room for an upgrade and there are always fixes to “bugs” and more elegant ways to craft it.

In the section of attunement I wrote how feeling powerful can distort one’s perspective taking abilities. There’s some interesting new evidence that’s come out really underscoring that when people feel powerful they talk too much.  As a consequence of that, the people they are interacting with don’t feel listened to.  So I think there’s been a lot of evidence coming out about the distorting effects of power, how feelings of power can impede your ability to influence other people.  I think that’s very, very important for leaders in organizations especially.

One thing I was surprised by was how much negative connotation with sales is very, very deep.  It might even be deeper than I would’ve expected, and getting people over that is not as easy as I would’ve thought.  That is especially true with people who aren’t in sales. At some level even the word, you say the word “sales” and people are like, “Okay, I’m not interested in that.  That’s not me.”  But if you have the opportunity to say “Wait, let me explain” then you might be able to reel them in.

How did this negative feedback reach you, in what shape or form? 

Just in terms of people saying “Oh yeah, I read your other books, but this one’s about sales.  Why would I wanna read that?”  There’s some barriers to getting a fair hearing.  Some educators for instance, teachers, principals, whatever had read previous books of mine saying “Okay, I understand how motivation applies to my job as a teacher.  Oh yeah, I understand how creative thinking applies to my job as a teacher, but sales, what?  I’m not a salesperson.”

So the dismissal at the outset and people’s deep distaste for it was actually a little bit stronger than I suspected.  Now I think I can overcome it, but you don’t have a sense of the people you’ve lost saying “Oh wait, Dan Pink wrote a book about sales.  Why would I ever wanna read that?”  I can’t go “Wait, let me explain” to every person who has that reaction.

In the book you emphasize the need to be improvisational and the lessons from improv comedy also.  So I wanted to improvise the last question. Not a very good question I must admit, but what’s next for sales?  

It’s work in progress. People are  reconsidering many things and I think that the really interesting stuff is happening in a way that’s a little bit blurry.  So if you look at companies that don’t have a sales force even though they sell a lot of stuff, it’s hard to make sense of that, but there’s something very interesting going on there. Companies rethinking the orthodoxy of sales commissions. That might be the direction where things are going.

There are some business schools now that have begun to rethink, “Wait a second, are we underserving our graduates by talking about sales once in a two-year MBA program in our marketing class when we talk about channels?”  So the answer to what’s next for sales?  I don’t know.  I think it’s in flux more than it’s ever been in a long time.  I also think that the more people have the experience of being buyers in a world of information parity, the more some of these negative perceptions of sales will begin to evaporate.


Our sincerest gratitude to Dan Pink once again. You can get his “To Sell Is Human” on Amazon and probably at your friendly neighbourhood bookstore or airport as well. If you’re a Pipedrive user, another way to get this book is to tell a friend about Pipedrive.