The “Art” and “Science” of Sales – Above and Beyond
By Gary A. Mach – CEO and Founder of Integritas Professional, Inc.
The Consultative Selling Component
As a sales professional, sales manager, and now CEO & Founder of my own
company, I have often been asked why is it that some sales people excel while
others are more challenged? Why is it that sales teams and related production seem
entrenched in what is often referred to as the 80/20 rule? That is, 20% of the team
drive 80% of the sales, or 80% of the revenue/sales comes from 20% of a
company’s clients. Why then, since consultative or solution selling has been around
for years, is it that many sales professionals, sales managers, sales executives, and
organizations struggle with the implementation of a consultative sales model? I wish
I had the “magical” answer or wand, which, once waived, would answer these, and
other like questions once and for all. There seems to be far more answers
(sometimes excuses) than questions. The reality is, there is no magic wand or simple
answer. The fact is sales, better yet successful sales is a complex matter.
There exist mountains of written materials and training programs that expound on
the virtues and benefits of consultative solutions and / or value based selling. Each of
these incorporate some degree and elements of sales process, methods, techniques,
tools, training, tips, etc. when once mastered, would indeed assist the sales
professional and team to be more successful. Consider the creators of this newsletter
- Bob and Michael in their most recent book entitled “Why Johnny Can’t Sell and
What to Do About It” take us on a journey with their fictional character. Riding along
with “Johnny” they creatively, simply, and masterfully capture the trials and
tribulations of us, real non-fictional sales professionals. Packed with practical
solutions featuring clarity, their book is a must read. Regardless of your function or
title within the sales profession, you can’t help but glean tips which are easy to
understand, easy to relate to, and easy to implement. Their book is loaded with
thought provoking ideas – I call “gems”.
The truth is much of the material today is outstanding and I for one am a “raving
fan” and a committed believer in consultative selling – its processes, methods,
techniques, etc. To excel in the sales profession, the mastery of all elements related
to consultative selling is a must!
For example, who can argue with the pride and fulfillment one gets when the senior
executive (C level), or as Anthony Parinello in his book refer to as VITO. (Very
Important Top Officer) grants you, as the sales professional, the right and privilege
of being invited to enter their office anytime you are at their company? I have
fortunately been there and know the feeling you have as you leave. With your head
held high and the confidence to tackle the world – you exclaim – “I have arrived”.
You realize your client now recognizes you as a valued advisor as opposed to just
another sales representative. Once done soaring with the eagles, your feet solidly
back on the ground, and upon reflection (yes, post call analysis is important), you
know you have earned your stripe as a true sales professional. You are indeed
practicing the essence of consultative selling and are reaping the rewards. You know
that executive and client found value and benefit in your contribution. They
recognize you did your due diligence and understand their industry, their companies
vision and their mission. They realize you are aware of their strategies, tactics and
related challenges. Furthermore they know you were capable and creative enough to
craft a solution, which uniquely met and mapped to their needs. You realized you
were outward focused on your client needs – not yours! You were professional in all
aspects - out classing and out performing your competition. For those of you that
have experienced such success, I congratulate you. Indeed, you can relate and know
exactly what I am talking about.
The Art and Science
This brings me to this articles’ main focus, the Art and Science of sales. For those of
you who have succeeded as a sales professional, or those aspiring to do so, I ask
you to rise above and beyond mastering consultative selling. There is a world beyond
it. It is something my father, whom I consider a master sales professional, once told
me when I was very young. He said, “Gary, sales is both an art and a science”. Since
that day in the late 60’s or early 70’s, many have made such a claim. Tom Hopkins,
a renowned sales trainer, wrote a national bestseller entitled, “How to Master the Art
of Selling” back in 1982. Others have written on this subject, however, few describe
(as my father did) the art and science as unique components that when standing
alone have their own merit. However, these must be coupled together to experience
the real power and impact. I’ll admit when my father first said this to me, I felt he
went off the deep end and being so young, I clearly did not fully comprehend. Now I
understand! For clarity sake let’s recognize and define each element separately.
I consider the science element as the techniques and tactical skills we, as sales
professionals, must master. These basic skills must be learned first. These are
elements such as trial close, closing, objective handling, and to a degree,
negotiations. There are others. Each of these techniques / skills are fairly easy to
learn and indeed feature a process which is iterative and relatively easy to apply. I
consider these mandatory and must be visited and refined throughout ones’ career.
Indeed, I practice these many times in a given year and by the way, these are not
restricted to entry-level sales professionals. Vince Lombardi, (Yes, I am from
Wisconsin and am an avid Packer Fan) once told the press after a disheartening loss
“We are going back to basics.” He held up a football and clearly implied that is where
he intended to begin. One must review and refine our profession’s basic skills
regardless of who we are and what we do. If a very successful Packers team can do
it– so can we. Since there exist relatively few of these skills or techniques, I consider
the science side of sales as the simplest to understand and learn.
The Art side of sales is a bit of a different story. It’s softer, professional, polished (I
don’t mean “fast Eddie” like) and extremely effective. The Art side of sales is in the
presentation and delivery. Like the sales pro who, when presenting or engaged in
sales dialog, knows it is not so much the words they say, but how they are delivered.
I sometimes compare it to those individuals with the “magnetic personality”. Their
presentation, posture, character, timing, listening and understanding skills literally
“wow” those they are in front of. One can compare them to the person who by their
very nature command respect and often mesmerize all when they enter the room.
Their confidence and composure draw people to them. We all know people like this.
These pros are not arrogant, stuffy, or artificial, they are the opposite. They are
engaging, talented, persuasive, trusting, honest, self confident and outgoing. They
have their thumb pressed firmly on the pulse and fully understand the meaning of
value and benefit. They are well grounded in principles and ethics and as a result
know themselves well and are extremely comfortable in their own skin. Fortunately,
in my sales career, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with and learning from
many such professionals. These individuals have mastered the Art of sales. They
know inside and out, the Science side – but recognize techniques, associated with
our basic sales skills, are only a small piece of what makes them so good. They know
and practice consultative selling methodology and techniques. They realize our
profession and their success rely heavily on the Art / presentation side. They are the
elite in our profession, and by no mistake make up the top 20 percent of all sales
people. They are the envy of our profession and all of us should aspire to be like
them. The challenge is to do so while being you.
The Close: A Practical Approach to Mastering the Art and Science of Sales
for the Sales Professional
I suggest you start simple when blending and practicing the Art and Science
components. Consider the products and services you sell and are most
knowledgeable about. Envision yourself in a meet and greet, and in front of a new
prospect. Let’s assume this new prospect knows little about you or your company.
Consider the technique (science element) of trial closing. Practice with a clear
understanding of the features and functions of your products and/or services. Most
importantly, you must transition these to the values and benefits they provide. Focus
intently on the presentation and delivery (the Art element), not as much on the
features and functions. Now consider what you look like when you sell. This is
critical! The truth is, most people don’t know what they look like. If needed, practice
in front of a mirror, or better yet, use a digital camcorder. Do this with a colleague or
member of your family. I recognize most of you think this mirror and/or camcorder
sounds corny. It is not! Remember what you will be looking at is what some of your
most valued clients or prospects see when you are engaged. At this point keep it
simple and generic – there will be time to custom tailor your presentation to a
specific client or prospect. Keep practicing until your presentation, delivery, and style
is you. As I say, “wrap yourself around it”, it will be more believable and sincere.
Repeat this with closing and overcoming objections techniques. Remember it is the
Art and presentation side of this drill you are looking for! Refine this over time. You
are now on your way – good luck!
With this said, achieving such success does not come easily or readily. Growth in a
sales career meets with challenges and difficulties. Look at these as opportunities to
improve, bumps in the road to tackle. Through dedication, commitment, and hard
work one can overcome these. Like an airplane, which only lifts off and rises high
when facing into the wind, so can you.
I encourage all of us in sales, regardless of title or years of experience, to “Raise the
Bar” and reach higher. Certainly understand and master all elements of consultative
selling. Then go above and beyond! Focus intently on the Science, and even more so
on the Art, of our craft and profession. Once you succeed, you have truly arrived!
Gary Mach is the CEO and founder of Integritas Professional, Inc. – Sales &
Marketing Group. His many years of highly successful sales and sales management
blended with creative and proven methods, processes, tools, tips & techniques form
the foundation of Integritas’ services. As others have said “ Integritas simply shares
and guides us in the activities, approaches, practices etc. that enabled Gary to
consistently be acknowledged as a top performer - on a national basis. Integritas’
programs and services ultimately guide individuals and sales teams to the pinnacle of
the sales profession – be recognized at the “Valued Advisor” level. Their motto is
“Raise the Bar”. This motto exemplifies the spirit and motivation Integritas brings
to each engagement – we strongly believe all should reach high and strive to be the
“Best”. Integritas’ Professional’s services and delivery model are engineered around
a consultative / value based sales model. Integritas assesses / evaluates, designs,
develops, and implements custom sales and marketing programs and related
campaigns. These are integrated with custom training and coaching. Gary’s deepest
passion is assisting other sales professionals, and organizations reach, expand, and
grow. Those that know Gary consider him the “Champion of the Art and
Science” of sales. He has been recognized as a gifted speaker, offering practical
solutions with a motivational flare. He invites readers to contact him with questions,
comments, and success stories.
Office (414) 617-0156
Fax (414) 425-4856