Download To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others PDF

TitleTo Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
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Page 252

now on “the ability to hypothesize,” to clarify
what’s going to happen next. Or take Shyam
Sankar, the fellow from Chapter 2 who over-
sees Palantir Technologies’ “forward-de-
ployed engineers” who sell but who aren’t
salespeople. “The most important thing they
do,” he told me, “is find the right problems to

This transformation from problem solv-
ing to problem finding as a central attribute
in moving others reaches wide. For instance,
the Haas School of Business at the University
of California, Berkeley, now offers a course
called “Problem Finding, Problem Solving”
because, as its instructor says, “part of being
an innovative leader is being able to frame a
problem in interesting ways and . . . to see
what the problem really is before you jump
in to solve it.” And a few years ago, the Con-
ference Board, the well-regarded U.S. busi-
ness group, gave 155 public school superin-
tendents and eighty-nine private employers a


Page 253

list of cognitive capacities and asked their re-
spondents to rate these capacities according
to which are most important in today’s work-
force. The superintendents ranked “problem
solving” number one. But the employers
ranked it number eight. Their top-ranked

ability: “problem identification.”10

Identifying problems as a way to move
others takes two long-standing skills and
turns them upside down. First, in the past,
the best salespeople were adept at accessing
information. Today, they must be skilled at
curating it—sorting through the massive
troves of data and presenting to others the
most relevant and clarifying pieces. Second,
in the past, the best salespeople were skilled
at answering questions (in part because they
had information their prospects lacked).
Today, they must be good at asking ques-
tions—uncovering possibilities, surfacing lat-
ent issues, and finding unexpected problems.


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