Selling – A science or an Art?

There are two schools of thought about the profession of selling – whether it is a science which can be taught or an art that can be learned through experience?

In a survey of 173 marketing executives, 46 per cent perceived selling as an art, 8 per cent as science and 46 per cent perceived selling as an art evolving into science.

You may have come across some dynamic and charismatic salespeople and to some extent, advertising professionals, who perform consistently well and thus, get excellent results. Such people have tremendous enthusiasm and the gift of the gab. They feel selling can be learnt only on field by making sales calls. The more calls you make, the better is your experience and thus your success rate. While speaking to some of the top performers, I was told that success comes through experience and experience comes through failures. So, stated otherwise, one has to make lot of calls and face challenging situations like facing angry and egoistic customers who make you wait endlessly. It is also about closing a good number of orders, losing some, and while doing so have an inner resolve that one has to succeed come what may.

Essentially this school of thought, which says that learning ‘selling’ through years of “slogging in the field” rather than a systematic and fundamental body of knowledge can be dangerous as John Howard’s dictum “ Experiential Knowledge can be unreliable.” Selling as a science looks at selling from the perspective of human psychology and may also include Hertzberg and Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation. Some of the conceptual frameworks in selling are: AIDA theory, which stands for getting the Attention of the customer, creating Interest, arouse Desire and enable him to take an Action. The other one is tell them what you want to tell them (Introduction), tell them (the Sales Pitch) and tell what you have told them (Summary and Order Closing).

Excerpt from Contextual Selling®: A New Sales Paradigm for the 21st Century.
Author – Rajan Parulekar

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