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Mastering the Science of Sales

From your experience, in what way is sales a science? - by Community Mailbox
From your experience, in what way is sales a science?
That's a great question.

My answer is that it is only a science as observed consciously by those who would have chosen to be scientists in that field of study.

I would say Neil Rackham (SPIN SELLING) would be in that category. Also, less than a handful who post here. Among some other "trainers". perhaps Morgen, Werth, and the late David Sandler. That doesn't mean that their conclusions have been necessarily correct--only that they have taken a scientific approach through a form of scientific method--deductive and inductive so to speak.

Some poeple might think that so-called "principles" of selling validate it as a science. But most principles are arbitrarily chosen.

Most people practice it as a job. A smaller segment practice it as an art. - by Gary A Boye
I think we are using the term 'science' loosely, but I've often referred to the approach taught to me by my sales mentor, Michael Goodman, as 'science'.

It is a science in that there are immutable truths and that certain practices or activities produce repeatable results.

Is it art or is it science? Some in this profession are artists. They were born with talents that make them great. Being great at something that is primarily an artistic endeavor is something that cannot be achieved via training. I will never be a great painter or musician.

So for what it's worth, it's a science because you can train someone to be a great sales professional. - by DaveB
So for what it's worth, it's a science because you can train someone to be a great sales professional.

Dave Barnhart
Do you believe, Dave, that a person who is not gifted as an artist in sales could then only achieve greatness in sales through someone else's training?

I have another question, solely as inquiry. It has to do with your use of the word "great." Seldom do other professionals who are successful enjoy the label of great. For instance, accountants, bankers, engineers, programmers, tool and die makers, plumbers, county clerks, nurses, etc., etc.

Why that pedestal? - by Gary A Boye
Do you believe, Dave, that a person who is not gifted as an artist in sales could then only achieve greatness in sales through someone else's training?

I have another question, solely as inquiry. It has to do with your use of the word "great." Seldom do other professionals who are successful enjoy the label of great. For instance, accountants, bankers, engineers, programmers, tool and die makers, plumbers, county clerks, nurses, etc., etc.

Why that pedestal?
I know great pilots.... that is because they make repeatable good landings. I know great shots, because they make repeatable good scores... basketball, baseball, there are lots of great professionals. I've no idea why you've centered on this. Great demands individual achievement.. great leader, someone who stands out in their field.

However, it's hard to be great when you're part of a collective. The professions you've mentioned don't lend themselves real well to "greatness" and UNIONs won't permit it, involved with many of the professions you suggest.

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
Do you believe, Dave, that a person who is not gifted as an artist in sales could then only achieve greatness in sales through someone else's training?

I have another question, solely as inquiry. It has to do with your use of the word "great." Seldom do other professionals who are successful enjoy the label of great. For instance, accountants, bankers, engineers, programmers, tool and die makers, plumbers, county clerks, nurses, etc., etc.

Why that pedestal?
To answer your first question, Gary, If I am not naturally gifted then I am not going to get to the top via sheer determination. Determination AND some training are required.

To answer your second question, we tend to use the word "top" instead of "great", don't we? - by DaveB
Does anyone have examples of certain sales practices or activities that produce repeatable results that would qualify "Sales" as a "Science"? - by Jeff Blackwell
I've no idea why you've centered on this.
I will tell you EXACTLY why I have brought that topic up.

There is an inordinate amount of people who visit SalesPractice, introduce themselves enthusiastically with aspirations about getting help in their new career, putting food on the table, paying their bills, and building a career in sales. They don't get training in sales at school, their employers offer little help, and they need guidance so they can further their lives. And they LEAVE this site in a matter of days--disappear into the woodwork. As another highly repected member has stated, it just might be because they are not finding what they are looking for. Maybe--just maybe--they are looking to buy groceries, and they need to get better at selling. Maybe they are not looking for GREATNESS!

The people who own and manage this site are COMMITTED big time to BEING what these people are looking for. We believe that consists of help in real world selling--not fictional models derived from misguided celebrity consciousness.

That's the direction SalesPractice is taking and you are welcome to jump aboard. - by Gary A Boye
Hi Gary, Jeff,
I mentioned Michael Goodman who is also committed to helping sales people. I asked him to read through the thread and tell me what he thought. After responding he thought it would be a great idea for him to participate on this forum a lot more often and I wouldn't be surprised if he participates.

Here is what he wrote me back.

On the science of selling, Dave, my definition is what can be repeated by a different person, in a different location using identical protocols and achieve identical results. In sales we use this every day, though way too many sales people use it weakly when weekly would be far better.

The primary example is how many phone calls to new buyers result in how many presentations which result in how many new dollars for my company over what amount of time. This is a very common formula in sales to back into what level of activity is required regularly in what time period to hit my financial goals. We use this same kind of formula to determine marketing budgets and marketing activities which also results in new prospects.

Another formula that leans to the quantitative side is If I can make X amount of presentations in a week, Close W percentage of them, my average sales is Y and my commission rate is Z. Then to increase my personal income, I have to find a way to increase number of presentations per week, my closing average, my dollars per closed deal or finagle a higher commission out of my boss. Any of these will improve revenue for myself and most will for the company also.

What people miss here is that it is not my job to close every deal, it is my job to hit a financial goal. The science of closing deals refers more to psychology and ROI as it relates to the buyer but that would take a lot more room to explain.

The art of sales is relative to the intuition, experience and people skills of the sales professional and can only be generally taught. It is far better experienced through practice and often the hiring of an experienced sales coach.

I should stop before I bore people with this stuff. Best,
Michael - by DaveB
The primary example is how many phone calls to new buyers result in how many presentations which result in how many new dollars for my company over what amount of time. This is a very common formula in sales to back into what level of activity is required regularly in what time period to hit my financial goals. We use this same kind of formula to determine marketing budgets and marketing activities which also results in new prospects.

Another formula that leans to the quantitative side is If I can make X amount of presentations in a week, Close W percentage of them, my average sales is Y and my commission rate is Z. Then to increase my personal income, I have to find a way to increase number of presentations per week, my closing average, my dollars per closed deal or finagle a higher commission out of my boss. Any of these will improve revenue for myself and most will for the company also.
This is somewhat familiar material. I remember the topic arose at a conference I took part in Dallas two years ago when 23 top producers from various parts of the country gathered to exchange ideas and address areas of interest. Interestingly the topic evolved when I suggested that it is much more important to identify current opportunities and how they arose than to chart a funnel that reveals the need to do something without identifying what that something is.

Goodman's "I have to find a way.." is a weak conclusion. - by Gary A Boye
I think that a lot of the "science" part of sales has to do with numbers. It is not the only component, by an means, but a major one. Persuading customers, adapting and overcoming are all theories.

Persistence is the reason why the more people that you talk to, the more of a chance, that you will get the sale. Science usually tends to deal with math. If you knock on lets say 20 doors and you get 10 people to talk to, you will get the chance to do your speech about 3-5 times. You should be able to close at least 1 deal.

Those numbers solidify the numbers in which you need, in order to make a sale, which in turn translates into a portion of science in sales. - by Jumpman
There is a difference between predictable results and maximization of probability.

If selling is done in a stategic fashion, the science of strategy affirms that you CANNOT predict results. Not everybody sells strategically. Those that do practice it as a science. Therefore mastering the Science of Sales involves engaging the principles of strategy. - by Gary A Boye
I tend to believe that not only can you not predict results, you can not control them. The only thing you can control is your behavior, and your activity. Everything else is X. - by David Mack
I tend to believe that not only can you not predict results, you can not control them. The only thing you can control is your behavior, and your activity. Everything else is X.
Sales is unpredictable. That is what you are saying to these young folks lurking in the wings. Sales is uncontrollable. That is what you are saying to these younsters sitting in the shadows. You are saying that your activity has no predictable result, and I'm not sure exactly what you mean by behavior as it relates to sales, unless you are talking about preparedness etc.

So what I'm gathering here is that sales as a profession is predictably unpredictable. The science says its so.

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
One definition put forth in this thread was, "...what can be repeated by a different person, in a different location using identical protocols and achieve (identical results)". Against this definition Sales does not qualify as a Science in my opinion because the "identical results" cannot be reproduced due to the unpredictability of human behavior. What works with one customer may not work with the next resulting in an unpredictable outcome.

I agree that scientific inquiry into sales has been made by such pioneers as Rackham, Sandler, etc. however such inquiries fail to establish Sales as a Science. With that said, such inquiries do provide insight into "probabilities" which can be incorporated into sales processes to increase the likelihood of success at each stage of the sales cycle. - by Jeff Blackwell
What is the purpose of science? Perhaps the most general description is that the purpose of science is to produce useful models of reality. - by Guest
What is the purpose of science? Perhaps the most general description is that the purpose of science is to produce useful models of reality.
Exactly... produce useful models of reality. ;) - by Jeff Blackwell
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