Sales is NOT a science.
Next to the chicken and the egg question, more debates are probably held over trying to figure out whether sales is an art or a science.
Each side has its staunch supporters.
My position is that it is neither or both. The successful sales professional makes full use of science and technology, understands the art of human relations, and overall has the skill to blend them together.
Sales is not just an art, because art denotes that the power is in the hands of the artist. In the case of sales, power is in the hands of the customer, not just the sales professional.
Sales is not just a science, because study after study makes it clear that people will more readily part with their money to someone they trust. They will not build that human level of warm relationship with a robot.
Sales is art, science and more than that. It is a learned skill. Some people have a natural aptitude for learning that skill, just as some people pick up languages quicker or ride a bicycle at a younger age.
It is the skill of building good and lasting relationships. It is the skill of listening and persuading. It is the skill of presentation and the skill of securing signed contracts. It is the skill of knowing when to go back and check, and the skill of staying aware of developments in the industries of your clients.
I have been reading quite a bit recently about sales bots which some predict may soon take the jobs of real people in sales. While it would be foolhardy to dismiss the scope of new technology in any field, and we already have robot vacuum cleaners and robot assembly line workers, and machines that take your money and spit out a bag of potato chips, I think it will be quite a gap to cross before people will part with thousands of dollars to a being with only artificial intelligence.
Nonetheless, technology is an asset to today’s sales professional. It allows him or her to check messages from an iPhone, to email contracts and have them signed electronically, and to use Skype to check in on a client who wants a quick response but who lives thousands of miles away.
It offers amazing apps for keeping expenses straight and electronic files provide quick reminders of the particulars of a business before you call on them.
But technology does not build relationships that go on for years. It does not go to weddings and funerals and listen to stories about new babies and adorable grandchildren. It does not offer warm handshakes or a memory of the milestones in the growth of a client’s business.
Most people, if you ask them to respond honestly, don’t even like their phone calls answered by a robot responder. Have you ever heard someone yelling in frustration at a machine that keeps re-routing them around the person they are really trying to reach?
Sales professionals are already relying on technology to obtain reliable, up-to-date information that allows them to personalize their presentations to clients. But when they call that client, and the client says: “I am interested in talking about this, but right now my kid is really sick and it’s a bad time,” the sales professional knows how to offer sympathy and datebook when to call back.
The sales professional knows the art of listening and hearing more than the words being spoken. He or she picks up the subtle messages of body language as well.
Art or science? Both. Skill? Yes. Here to stay as an action of a living and breathing human being?
Paula Morand is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and impact in a more bold fashion.
24 years, 27,000 clients, 34 countries, 15 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
Check out Paula’s bestselling books on Amazon: “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything”, “Dreaming BIG and Being BOLD: Inspiring stories from Trailblazers, Visionaries and Change Makers” book series; and her newest release “Bold Vision: A Leader’s Playbook for Managing Growth”.
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