Professional Sales: Art or Science?

Before you pick a definitive argument for which side, art or science, more greatly influences success in sales let me assure the answer is yes! Cop out? Of course, but let me make a case. First though, let’s define professional selling in the broad view, it goes beyond what someone with a Sales or Account title might do and includes business owners, brand ambassadors and anyone with responsibility for revenue. With that wide a swath we can show where success has come from those who practice sales as an art form as well as those who have it down to a science and let’s not leave out those few Leonardo DaVinci types who have blended the two in true mastery.

My first experience dissecting the question came years back when I owned a sales training franchise and heard the quote by David Sandler, “Sales is a broadway play performed by a psychiatrist.” Not since watching the Bob Newhart show had my secret desire to be a Psychologist been so aroused. There’s no disputing the point that the better sales people understand how these two human fundamentals work, how we think and how we feel; can be tweaked, motivated, obligated, diagnosed, reflected, cajoled and yes, sold.

Training people in sales is slightly different than selling, although to get the opportunity there is surely the likelihood to need to walk the talk we tell. The difference is that as a teacher you have to understand which side of the brain drives your sales student. This is also why so many people benefit from a real commitment to learning the art and science of selling, most people aren’t evenly balanced right brain/left brain and so even seasoned veterans have room to learn, grow and develop their weaker selling muscle. This diagnosis is duplicated when a seller assesses a prospect, it gives them a clearer, more efficient avenue.

There are plenty of successful sellers who push and may have enough charm, persistence or exceptional product to win business. Equally there are those businesses that find sales without diligent process or a deep understanding of buyer psyche. Some people can paint a wall, some people can paint a picture but very few can create masterpieces. The DaVinci Code for selling is simply explained but a multifarious complex of parts. There are those savants who posses the instincts to move through interactions and demonstrate empathy, create obligation, instill trust and close deals but for most it is about identifying their weakness in feeling or thinking, and identifying feeling and thinking in their prospects that moves them to artistically scientific selling, or, scientifically artistic selling…both work!

The simplest synopsis explains that better, more efficient, more loyalty inspiring selling comes from a few basic components that include: having a plan, showing up, asking great questions, listening, converting conversation from intellectual to emotional, recognizing when it’s not an opportunity or making significant opportunity or consequences apparent, having empathy, reading body language (and micro expressions), making agreements, getting commitments, understanding and demonstrating value, and, in the best executions, getting the customer to ask you to sell to him (instead of the reverse).

Sure sounds like a lot of art and science mixed together doesn’t it? That’s why it’s fair to argue that professional selling is among the most challenging professions. Of course getting selling opportunities, closing deals, renewing business, product quality, customer service and the myriad of sales ecosystems that encompass every professional seller’s world all contribute to overall success. Appreciating, however, how much art and science need to be learned, practiced and mastered to optimize sales lets us see how much all of us who sell can grow and learn whether your Mona Lisa is already hanging in a gallery or still waiting to be crafted.

(c) 2017 MyEureka Solutions LLC. More articles about selling and success can be found at Follow Tom on Twitter @TomFoxTrainer.

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