01 Feb Let’s Stop the Art vs. Science Debate
Question: Is professional selling an art or a science?
The debate continues… Can selling be taught? Or is it something you are “born with”?
Selling isn’t any more of an “art” then it is a “science” – it is a profession. Can an artist be taught? Can a scientist be taught? Absolutely! What the “art vs. science” argument does is debate degrees of salesperson effectiveness. In other words, some would argue that effective salespeople are more scientific in their approach. Others would argue that effective salespeople are more artistic. What if both arguments are correct? In other words, what if a salesperson could be artistic one day and scientific on another day – and be equally successful? I have personally seen this hundreds of times.
What if the people debating the art vs. science argument were to look at selling as a real profession? It would be like asking “Is a doctor more artistic or scientific?” Patients just wouldn’t care — they want results. In fact, they would probably be a little shocked you asked it in the first place. Instead, a patient would focus on asking the right questions such as “Can this person get the job done?” or “Is this person going to do what they say they can do?” or better yet “Is this guy likely to kill me?”
We therefore do not agree that people can be “born” a sales superstar anymore than someone can be born a “surgery superstar.” Nor do we believe that you must have certain personality traits to succeed in selling. Just as in any other profession, salespeople should be encouraged to build their approach and style in the best way they see fit – and in the best way it serves their customers. It requires a degree of professionalism not often discussed or understood. It requires an in depth understanding of professional competencies and one’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to those competencies.
The real problem contributing to the “art vs. science” argument is the lack of a true understanding of what selling is, and what skills are universally required – something that every sales manager must must work toward every day.