Selling is more art than science | Sunday Observer

Selling is more art than science

In a commercial transaction, the seller must outshine and defeat the competitor.
In a commercial transaction, the seller must outshine and defeat the competitor.

Selling is the one game in town that pays bills, that keeps the doors open. This is a part of a poem I picked from Patrick Ellis’ famous book on selling ‘Who Dares Sells’.

In my long career as a professional salesman, I have comprehensively and unconditionally believed this reality. Art is defined as application of human creative skill and imagination to be appreciated for beauty or emotional power.

On the other hand, science is the intellectual and practical systematic study of the structure and behaviour. Skill, imagination and creativity are the foremost factors while systematic practical study also is essentially vital for selling. Thus selling is an art and a science.

Everyone knows that selling is probably the most important activity in a commercial entity. Every business needs to sell to succeed in today’s enormously competitive and changing market place. As such, salesmen need to master a skillful, magical, creative and tactical approach in selling their products or services.

Selling, obviously is world’s one of the best professions which pays back with the most lucrative financial and non-financial benefits. It gives a person freedom, pleasure, satisfaction and more importantly a purpose to life.

A salesman wakes up with a goal in mind on every working day. All important intra-personal relationships such as empathy, efficiency, ego-drive and enthusiasm are the lifeblood of a professional salesman. These traits and attitudes in a person drive him or her to success in official and personal life.

Before going in to resolve whether selling is an art or science, let us explicate who a salesman is and what his or her role. All of us are always presenting ideas, opinions or our own selves at most of our day to day conversations.

When we present our opinions, ideas or feelings, it is usually done in a way to solicit a desired and often a positive reaction from the other party.

Everyone does that throughout their lives intentionally or impulsively as a natural daily routine. The boundary of the salesmanship is measured by the individual skill displayed in any of these daily routines, whether it is commercial or not.

Selling is more art than science. It is the practical application of knowledge and natural ability. The art of selling, in principal, can be in two different segments, sales knowledge and selling skills. To achieve the optimum outcome, the sales staff must be made aware of both segments through training.

Sales knowledge development is the in-depth knowledge the company, the sales role, product knowledge, prices, advertising and promotions, relative customer needs and competition. In addition, salesmen must know facts about the relevant industry and the prevailing economic environment as well.

Although the theoretical knowledge in selling principals is compulsorily required, selling is an activity which has the actual involvement of two or more participants. The rule is that in a commercial transaction, the seller must outshine and defeat the competitor.

Therefore, actual practice is essentially required to win a sale. This is where the salesman requires characteristics such as verbal non non-verbal communication skills, people’s skills, creativity, positive and cheerful attitude and many more.

When a salesman walks into a business negotiation, if he only demonstrates the knowledge, he or she is unwittingly offering a lucrative opportunity to the competing salesman.

It is a cinch that everybody always wants to buy from a pleasant, attentive and cheerful person if equal opportunities are provided for a product or service. Therefore, imaginative, artistic and a well rehearsed approach by the salesman is imperative.

In the past decades, sales people gathered details of prospects by physically running though directories, attending trade shows, doing cold canvassing, and going through newspaper advertisements.

However, at present, a salesman can make use of various data driven software solutions such as customer relationship management (CRM) and instantly gather information.

Vital information about a prospect as well as industry and economy is also available at the fingertips through the internet.

Therefore, no doubt that science has an immense impact on the selling effort with more research being carried out on influencing, the foundation of selling.

Whether selling is an art or science, in reality, revenue generated through sales is the lifeblood of an organisation. Lack of or inadequate sales revenue can kill business and destroy careers.

Therefore, allowing sales effort to be an art and a science is important in business sustainability and growth. 

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