Norton: Is selling an art or is it a science?
This is a question that comes up a lot in the world of professional sales. Thought leaders and subject matter experts have been debating this for years, and in the end, we’ve all come to recognize that it’s a bit of both, selling is an art and a science.
Anyone in a professional sales position has probably learned this lesson through trial and error. Trying to learn sales scripts, a sales process, and rigidly adhering to both while selling leaves no room for interpretation or artistry, and often the salesperson seems a bit robotic. Too much science and not enough art. And the salesperson who sticks to their own artistic interpretation of how to sell and strays so far from their sales process also learns that too much art without any science isn’t effective either.
The best salespeople take their job very seriously. They study the sales process or sales system they follow, they do their research and gather valuable data and insights, and they leverage that knowledge to be in a better position to help their customers. And the best salespeople know they have to learn to do it with their own voice, with their own personality, and couple their scientific approach to selling with their own artistic nuances and style.
Having spent time with thousands of sellers over the years, I have a great appreciation for the superior selling skills associated with fine art printing. Sadly, I’ve also observed some truly awful sales attempts where the salesperson didn’t use art or science, they basically fell short of brute force. When salespeople don’t have a system or process to follow, or they don’t have the personality or natural selling qualities, they default to brute force.
What does brute force selling look like? Making as many calls as possible, talking to as many people as possible, pitching your products or services quickly, asking no questions, assuming you know it all, trying to force the sale and imposing your own agenda on your prospects, blazes a trail through tactless objections and generally not doing very well. There are always exceptions to every rule, but given my pick, I’d take the most successful salespeople who have learned value and practiced and applied both art and science when selling.
There are other well-known categories of salespeople such as relationship builder and lone wolf. And many studies and researches have been done on the most effective type of salesperson. My belief is that there is no one style that is better than the others.
I know a lot of lone wolves who excel in sales. I’ve also worked with many relationship builders who crush their numbers and build trust with clients. But I would say this – the best of the best I’ve seen blending all styles together a bit with their own personality and voice. They’re artists, and they’re scientists, and they’re generally on the higher end of the income spectrum.
The only good thing about sellers who default to brute force is this, they are usually self-motivated and have a good work ethic. Imagine if we just took the time and invested in their development where we could harness the power of their fearlessness and willingness to get the job done with a proven sales process, while teaching them how to turn some of their raw energy into communication. clever and stylish, how much more effective they could become as professional salespeople.
What do you think? Is selling an art or a science? Did you enjoy working with very polite and professional salespeople? Or have you ever been completely put off by the brute force seller? I would love to hear your story at [email protected] and when we can apply both art and science to everything we do in life, it will truly be a better than a good year.
Michael Norton is the grateful President of XINNIX, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, promoter and motivator for businesses of all sizes.