Balancing art & science for successful sales

10th Apr 2017

technology and data science in salesIt is an exciting time to be a sales professional. For years, experts debated whether sales is more of an art or a science.  New information and data analysis technologies have introduced “science” to the sales process. However, sales and marketing are still about human relationships. So whilst sales remains an art, successful sales professionals balance the traditional art of sales with the newer 'science' of sales and marketing.

As mentioned, sales traditionally has been built on relationships. Businesses valued their sales staff based on their connections. Salespeople developed ongoing relationships with clients and thus were prepared to offer the right products and services to meet that customer’s needs.

“While relationships are still hugely significant, the rise of the Internet has brought about other elements. According to Forrester, 74% of business buyers now conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. Selling has to change because buying has changed.”

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Technology's impact on modern sales

Technology disrupted the organic sales process through tthe internet's impact on access to information. Most consumers today use the internet to research potential purchases and to compare prices. Brands can reach the consumer directly without involving the “middleman” or salesperson. Or can they?

Brands still need talented sales staff to find new markets, especially in the business-to-business world. It didn’t take long for savvy sales professionals to harness the internet to generate leads and prospects.

Tensions emerged between the art of sales and the science of sales. Advanced data collection and analytics provide valuable information that streamlines the sales process. Chatbots simulate online conversations and persuade visitors to share their contact information. Modern technology allows businesses to track potential relationships from the moment of that first contact Artificial intelligence and automation apps remove much of the busywork from cultivating leads. Sometimes, automated systems might even will close online sales.

The risk of over-reliance on automation

A risk with technology is that too much automation may appear impersonal and robotic, according to Kissmetrics. Since relationships are integral to sales, the human touch is still essential. In reality, sales still is about relationships. As automation increases, so too does the consumer’s desire for authenticity and transparency, according to Octiv’s article on balancing the art and science of sales.  Only a human can satisfy that demand for authentic connection. Soft skills like listening and empathy result in a more satisfying buyer experience.

However, new technologies make it easier to build these relationships. Customer relationship management systems (CRMs) make it easier to track personal interests and prior interactions both online and offline. Compiling this information about prospects, leads and customers makes it easier to target sales activities. Combined with powerful analytics, science removes some of the trial and error from sales. It'ss easier than ever to merge the best of both approaches thanks to advances in data collection and analysis technology. This combination improves return on investment (ROI).

Today’s salesperson cultivates relationships and acts as a trusted advisor, consultant, and curator. Consumers are overwhelmed with information. Success in today's modern business environment requires the use of analytics and advanced data-based scientific tools. Armed with the latest technology, sales professionals offer time-saving solutions to meet individual customer’s needs. The technology supports the human relationships. This is how the art and science of sales merges for successful selling.

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