I’ve read a number of debates recently around the long-held belief that sales is a balance of art and science. Some experts now argue that science is a more important component of sales, while others believe the art component should be the stronger focus. We think it’s important to first define what is meant by “science” and “art,” and then present why the most successful salespeople utilize an equal balance of the two. In fact, it’s the only way it can work.
As a company that provides sales and marketing intelligence to customers looking to sell to other enterprises, we define the “science” of sales as the tools and technologies that provide salespeople with components critical to selling successfully.
As a company that also trains salespeople how to sell, the “art” of sales, that is, the ability to make an interpersonal connection with a potential client, understand their wants and needs and deliver a solution that feels tailored and unique, remains unchanged.
What needs to be understood and embraced is how science and art can affect each other, for good or for bad, and how to keep both science and art as an equal part of the mix. As with most things in life, it’s a delicate balance.
There’s good reason why some believe that science is tipping the scales its way. Indeed, sales and marketing technologies have exploded, growing from 150 to more than 3,800 solutions in just the past five years (no, that’s not a typo). Technology can be a huge boon to sales. Our company, for example, provides a key component to sales: accurate, verified, and continually updated data that helps them find the best prospects with whom to begin the process.
This proliferation of technology has its downsides, however. Salespeople can begin to over-rely on technology as a sales aid, leaving out the critical interpersonal aspect. Enable the right tools, and the world will tell me when it’s ready to buy my solution...who needs to dial the phone...so the thinking might errantly go. Or, sellers can also become overwhelmed by technology and forego newly introduced solutions, instead sticking with one or two tools they’ve learned and are comfortable using.
Perfecting the Art & Science Balance
From our vantage point as a provider of marketing and sales intelligence and training, these tips will help your organization strike that elusive balance between the art and science:
- Use, but don’t overuse technology. Choose no more than three marketing and/or sales technology solutions to provide your teams with the components they need for success. Examples include data, dialer technology, and performance management tools.
- Ensure your teams know how to fully utilize technology solutions. Your solutions providers should be willing to provide as much training as it takes to verify that every salesperson is able to learn and use every relevant feature of the technology.
- Evaluate providers of sales and marketing intelligence solutions not only on the quality of their data, but on their ability to enhance effectiveness.
- Focus on the art of narrative. Organizations report that the biggest gap in their teams’ skill sets is their lack of ability to tell stories and authentically engage with their buyers. Effective storytelling – speaking with purpose and passion, helps convince buyers that you are invested in them and their needs.
- Encourage creativity. Amazing things happen when salespeople are allowed to step out of their bottom-line mentality, focus on the human aspects of selling, and practice different methods of connecting with clients.
- Communicate with tailored conviction and authenticity. Conviction is the foundation for all great sales development teams. When prospects believe your faith in the product, you’ll convince them they deserve it, too.
We’ve developed a 10-module sales and marketing certification program that focuses on techniques for boosting sales development performance by teaching front line reps how to engage more prospects, set more meetings and schedule more demos. If your sales team could use a boost in 2017, please get in touch.