Quite frankly, no one really knows and that includes the experts themselves. Our marketing team did our own straw poll and asked a few of the account executives at ATS. Some of them said it was a bit of both, while others lamented that it was neither science nor art. We then asked a few of our customer’s sales reps in non-related industries, and pretty much got the same answers. A consistent response from all respondents was that the sales industry itself had changed dramatically in the several years.
An article in the Harvard Business Review states, in part:
“Under the conventional solution-selling method that has prevailed since the 1980s, salespeople are trained to align a solution with an acknowledged customer need and demonstrate why it is better than the competition’s. This translates into a very practical approach: A rep begins by identifying customers who recognize a problem that the supplier can solve, and gives priority to those who are ready to act. Then, by asking questions, she surfaces a “hook” that enables her to attach her company’s solution to that problem. Part and parcel of this approach is her ability to find and nurture somebody within the customer organization—an advocate, or coach—who can help her navigate the company and drive the deal to completion.”
While the profession itself has seen some changes, sales professionals still have to deal with quotas and the everyday pressures of their profession. The biggest adjustment that these reps will have to deal with is the changes in buyer behaviours. However, if the companies, who these sales professionals represent, have not adjusted to the new ways and subtle nuances of selling, chances of success for both parties will be slim to none.
So, the question still lingers; is sales art or science?