I came across an article today that I have been carrying around for a couple months. It is a review of two books on selling. The article is Titled, Selling Ice To Eskimos; April 17, 2012, The Economist.
The writer points out (correctly) that, the profession of sales is changing. The old days of visiting with the sales executive for industry news and product information have been replaced. The Internet is now a major conduit of information. I can learn about features and benefits online (if the firm has decided to tell me online).
One book argues that sales is a science (Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the Worlds Sales Leaders.) other other (The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters about the Business of Life); predictably states sales is an art. I would argue it is both, hence the title of this post.
Just like the craftsmen of yore, had to get the mixtures just right in their clay or the temperature just right it he kiln (science) before they can apply their artistic skill to throw and fire a durable beautiful pot; so too a sales professional has to get the right mix of science and art to guide a buyer to a purchase that is appropriate.
Sales professionals study the sciences of psychology, management and perhaps their industry. They also apply the softer skills the arts if you will of relationships, intuition, communications (although I could also argue there is science in communication).
As our buyers become younger and more connected online, we can learn to connect with them there by leveraging Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so on. We can deliver content that demonstrates thought leadership and expertise. We can use the tools to search and track our buyers so we can be relevant to their needs.
We can also remember the art of communicating and connecting people. The art of building relationships is still valuable today. Sellers that understand how to ask good questions and discern the answers that are spoken and unspoken will have an edge.
The principles of selling may not have changed, (find a need and fill it). But, the environment has. I don’t believe you can automate the selling process or make it efficient as a science. Nor, do I think you can be the professional visitor so many of us know. But…if we apply the sciences and we practice our skills we can become the master craftsmen (or craftswomen) and help our buyers and organizations grow.
– What science (psychology, technology, etc) have you studied in the last year?
– What new skill have you practiced?