Blueprint for the art and science of selling?

Blueprint for the art and science of selling?

In my previous Industry Insight, “Transform appetite for risk into sales savvy”, I spoke about three fundamentals that every salesperson or sales team must have in place: an understanding of the numbers, an understanding of the customer base and an appreciation of sales velocity.

In many ways, this is the “what” of modern selling. The next logical step is unpacking the “how” of modern selling. But, before we even get there, we need to understand the “why”.

One of the biggest post-COVID shifts in the world of sales is digital transformation that has happened in all areas, as well as access to information. Because of this, we are seeing organisations research solutions to their problems themselves before even contacting a partner or a salesperson.

This is a big shift from the previous norm. Today, when a salesperson sits in front of a customer, that customer has often already done their own research, and already has an informed opinion of that organisation’s product and/or service. With competition as rife as it is, and when products and solutions are very similar in industries, it’s the people that sets companies apart.

This results in salespeople needing to differentiate themselves, and they can do so by showing up as a subject matter expert, not in their product, but in business problems identified; showing credibility by storytelling, sharing information about success stories, asking more questions, etc.

By establishing credibility, the salesperson builds trust and becomes a trusted advisor. As a trusted advisor, a salesperson can easily identify business challenges and problems that are preventing an organisation from meeting its business objectives, and then be best suited to provide recommendations and solutions to overcome those challenges and ultimately meet business objectives and goals.

When deals are approached from a value lens, the person spends less time negotiating on price.

This is achievable when the salesperson approaches every opportunity from a value-selling lens, actively uses planning as a tool to drive the opportunities effectively through the sales funnel, and focuses strongly on developing their interpersonal skills.

And so: Why would a salesperson want to do this, and why would an organisation want to support and invest in their salespeople? The answer is quite simple: To achieve business goals, close more deals, win customer logos and grow the business bottom line.

In years gone by, it was said that some people were born with the gift of selling. While some people may well be strong in some of the classic selling traits, the general saying is no longer true or even relevant in 2023.

In addition to this, people have spent years mystified by what makes for a successful salesperson. People have spoken about sales as a science and sales as an art. Which is it? It is both.

Here is a blueprint for the science of selling in 2023 and the art of sales post-COVID.


Value-selling enables salespeople to build stronger relationships with their customers, increases customer loyalty and differentiates a company from its competitors. Here are a few steps to achieve value-selling:

  • Understand the business issue by asking relevant questions.
  • What is preventing the business from succeeding?
  • What solutions have they already considered?
  • What happens if they do not fix this situation?
  • Who does this impact?
  • How do they measure impact?

Building the habit of using every call and meeting as a discovery opportunity, to support the above points, is extremely valuable. When deals are approached from a value lens, the person spends less time negotiating on price.

Benefits of value-selling:

  • Builds stronger relationships.
  • Increases customer loyalty.
  • Differentiation.
  • Higher margins.
  • Increased revenue.
  • Longer contracts − sustainable business.


Never underestimate the value of planning. If you do not enjoy this part of the job, find a way to do it that makes it enjoyable. In addition, managers and salespeople must agree on goals and objectives from day one, as this is fundamental to evaluating progress.

Time is precious and no one can be everywhere at the same time, and not all prospects are equal. Use a business plan to map out the strategy to achieve numbers. Develop a CEO mindset to hold yourself accountable.

Benefits of planning:

  • Clarity and focus.
  • Improved decision-making.
  • Resource optimisation.

Build interpersonal skills

This is fundamental to success. Only salespeople equipped with strong interpersonal skills to cope with high-pressure environments that are constantly changing, and are still able to find and pursue opportunities, will succeed.

Key among these skills is the ability to communicate and build relationships. Understand when and how to listen, when to respond, and then how to respond. The ability to deal with conflict − both internally and with customers − allows salespeople to manage stress and anxiety so that they can still execute on their goals and objectives.

Selling is a high-stakes game and comes with a lot of pressure and so salespeople should seek and be given:

  • Support during stressful situations to help them manage situations differently.
  • Help with improving confidence when struggling.
  • Assistance to build resilience to bounce back from disappointment.
  • Help with improving emotional intelligence so they don’t take everything personally, while also having empathy for others.
  • Assistance with clarity and focus to support decision-making.
  • Support to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Benefits of building strong interpersonal skills:

  • Improved sales performance.
  • Increased motivation.
  • Better communication and collaboration.
  • Career development.
  • Personal development.
  • Improved employee retention.
  • Competitive advantage.

This article “Blueprint for the art and science of selling” was originally published on IT – Online on 4th May 2023

Reach out to James Hickman if you have any questions on this article.

James is the Sales Director for Altron Digital Transformation.  James is responsible for building long-term strategic client relationships as well as directing the combined sales teams of Altron System Integration, Altron Karabina, and Altron Managed Solutions. In his role, he brings together the unique strengths of our DT business for the benefit of our customers.

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