This is such a great question that I decided to pose it to two professionals that I know that work with leading sales departments every day. Bill Caskey of Caskey Sales Training is a nationally recognized sales expert and coach as well as Isaac Pellerin of TinderBox – a sales proposal platform that's exploded in growth. Both are clients!
From Isaac: The Art of Sales
I went to a concert this week to see Mumford and Sons perform an energetic show. These guys perform the same songs night after night, have the same banter with the crowd, and use the same jokes, but somehow they manage to perform in a way that makes the audience feel like this truly is their favorite stop on the tour. There are aspects of a concert that are simple science and when the elements come together with intention, it's an art.
I believe this correlates with selling. It has to feel like art while remaining rooted in science, something I call “Calculated Spontaneity”. You have to understand your audience and know where your going while being responsive to their needs as you receive feedback throughout the buying process.
What separates art from science is intent. There are some scientific laws that govern the sales process. Like the number of prospects you need to call to get leads who will convert to opportunities, or how quickly you should follow up with inbound leads before they go cold. Just like the earth spinning on it's axis creates a pattern of sunrise and sunset, these things have to happen with unending consistency to keep the revenue engine running.
A good sales rep understands the science behind these behaviors. A great sales rep knows how to deliver the message to the prospect in a way that feels tailored an unique. They know how to leverage the intel collected in the scientific process to craft a personalized buying experience. So great sales can be elevated to an art form (specifically a performance art) when the scientific laws that govern your sales universe are well understood so that nuance can be introduced into each performance that will surprise and delight your prospect..
From Bill: The Science of Sales
Great sales people are like Olympic runners: They run the practice miles prior to the race. They never merely go out and compete. By the day of competition, they are ready, mentally and physically. Usually, sales people refuse to do the things upfront necessary to be successful. That's why turnover in that profession is so high. The science of selling is getting ready to compete. The art is in the understanding of human nature once you're in the game.
For some excellent expert tips and deeper analysis on some of today’s most valuable artistic and scientific sales methods, you can download Velocify's latest ebook – Striking the Perfect Balance Between Art and Science.