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Ebook: Striking the Perfect Balance between Art and Science


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Is the science of selling becoming more important than the art? In today’s fast paced, always-connected world, science is an increasingly important driver for sales success, yet, the value of the art of selling cannot be underestimated.

You will learn:

- When it comes to onboarding new hires and training seasoned sales pros, is art or science your best bet?
- Which approach, sales or art, will help a sales rep respond and convert a lead most effectively?
- Art and science tips to closing the deal in 2013.

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Ebook: Striking the Perfect Balance between Art and Science

  1. 1. Expert Tips from Industry Sales Leaders ART SCIENCE AND STRIKING THE PERFECT BALANCE BETWEEN S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S
  2. 2. Is science overtaking the art of selling? A decade ago, the question “Is science overtaking art in sales?” would have been met with complete silence, or, at best, laughter. At the time, selling was considered almost exclusively an art form. But the world of sales has undergone numerous transformations during the past 10 years. Buyers and sellers have become savvier, leveraging an array of technology tools and devices. Today’s buyers are extremely resourceful, doing research online and completing much of the buying process without the assistance of a sales rep. And when they do engage sales, they expect a timely and helpful response. As a result, sales organizations have responded with heavy adoption of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and other sales tools and technologies. When leads arrive through many different channels, the best sales teams are ready to respond rapidly, outfitted with high-tech headsets and computers that display a staggering volume of data about incoming leads. But what about the art of sales? Has the intuitive, instinctive side of sales known for its focus on finesse and nuance been taken over by science? This ebook takes a deeper look at how both art and science impact sales and how each school of thought can complement the other. CRM USAGE IS PERVASIVE $18 Billion is spent annually on CRM (Gartner) BUYERS ARE SAVVY 57% of the buying process is complete before engaging a sales rep (Corporate Executive Board) $18Billion 57% 1S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S
  3. 3. Nick Hedges @Nick_Hedges Selling in a high-velocity sales environment requires a scalable approach #SCIENCE Nick Hedges is a 15-year veteran of the Internet and software as a service (SaaS) industry and has spent the last five years helping organizations accelerate sales performance. Nick joined Velocify in 2008 as SVP of business development and then held various roles at the company, including head of sales and chief revenue officer, prior to becoming CEO in 2011. Prior to Velocify, Nick was a case team leader at Bain and Company. Prior to Bain, he was the CEO of an online marketplace for the global soft commodity industry, one of the few early dot-coms to generate healthy revenue and a forerunner of SaaS technology. Earlier in his career, Nick worked at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and at Ogilvy and Mather Advertising. A Fulbright Scholar, Nick holds an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree with first class honors from Manchester University. An internationally recognized top sales and social selling expert, Lori Richardson helps mid-market companies close business faster and align marketing with sales. She is the author of “50 Days to Build Your Sales,” and is writing a new book, “Inside Sales Rock Star,” which will be released in 2014. Lori worked as a sales professional for more than a decade, closing tens of millions of dollars in new business and now coaches and mentors sales leaders and sellers to close millions more. A prolific blogger, Lori contributes her expertise on top sales blogs and shares insights on her company blog at Find her on G+ and on Twitter at @scoremoresales. Lori Richardson @ScoreMoreSales Selling in a way that feels natural, sincere and effortless requires more than data #ART President & CEO, Velocify CEO, Score More Sales 2 About the Authors S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S
  4. 4. 3 Training and Onboarding 3 1Chapter S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S When it comes to the onboarding of new hires and training seasoned sales pros, what’s your best bet? Empowering them with powerful tools and technologies capable of bringing method to madness? Or inspiring them to achieve the level of emotional intelligence that’s at the heart of all great relationships?
  5. 5. Science: The central goal of almost every sales training program is to distill the best practices of the top 20 percent and assimilate the remaining 80 percent. Taking a scientific approach to this challenge has proven to be more efficient, effective and repeatable than a coaching model. Art: The goal of onboarding for new sellers is immersion into the vision, mission and culture of the company with specific skills and tribal knowledge being disseminated. It is important to recognize the differences and strengths of each seller and build on that over time. 3 The Experts’ POV: Training and Onboarding 4 Nick Hedges @Nick_Hedges Distill the best practices of the top 20% and assimilate the remaining 80% #SCIENCE Lori Richardson @ScoreMoreSales Immersion into the vision, mission and culture of the company fuels growth #ART S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S
  6. 6. Organizations that have implemented successful process-focused training programs find that their sales reps quickly gain confidence in the scientific approach. Science5 Getting the bottom 80 percent of a sales team to perform like the top 20 percent requires a data-centric approach to performance assessment. The scientific method at its core has a proven means for distilling what high performers do into a succinct formula or process. Once that formula or process is identified and articulated, it can be used to create a system that will provide guidance to all sales reps – and not just during a seminar or workshop with an inflexible start and stop time – but in the moment, through automated workflow rules, helpful hints, scripts and more. Organizations that have implemented successful process-focused training programs find that their sales reps quickly gain confidence in the scientific approach. Regardless of content, the scientific method is much more scalable than the coach/apprentice model. And in a world where the speed of business accelerates daily, those advantages are more important than ever. S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S Training and Onboarding: Science Viewpoint Scalable training requires a data-centric approach
  7. 7. Art 6 Training is an excellent venue for addressing the skill gaps that exist with individual sellers. It’s hard to argue with science. That’s why I believe sales tools developed in accordance with the scientific method are fantastic resources, but they’re not successful without the human foundation upon which the sales world is built. This foundation begins with effective onboarding that assures your new hires they’ve chosen to join the right organization. It’s your opportunity to showcase proof of success so that the new sellers can quickly gain the confidence and motivation they need to grow into successful representatives of your organization. Equally important, training is an excellent time to ensure everyone on the team understands your tools, processes and methodologies, taking individual style into consideration. Finally, a word about coaching: it is the best way to reinforce what was learned in training in a way that’s personal, highly contextual and tailored to help the individual receiving it excel to the greatest extent possible. Lori Richardson @ScoreMoreSales Effective sales onboarding begins with assuring new hires they’ve chosen to join the right organization #ART S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S Training and Onboarding: Art Viewpoint Building an artistic and intuitive foundation
  8. 8. 3 Lead Response 7S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S 2Chapter Today, leads are generated via a multitude of sources and methods. Leads arrive via web forms, instant chats and numerous social media channels. Not surprisingly, the way reps respond to leads can make the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity.
  9. 9. 38 Science: The area of sales in which science is most clearly becoming more important than art is lead response. How a sales rep engages with a prospect from the very beginning is what matters most, and when a prospect isn’t engaged in a meaningful dialogue at the right time and in the right way, no amount of art can come to the rescue. Art: Lead response is in fact an art unto itself. While it’s easy to get swept up in the increased prevalence of technology, it is important to remember that each lead is unique and requires a tailored approach – not one prescribed by formulas. Even though today’s leads arrive via highly automated channels, highly scripted, formulaic responses are usually deal breakers. The Experts’ POV: Lead Response Nick Hedges @Nick_Hedges When a prospect isn’t engaged, no amount of art can come to the rescue #SCIENCE Lori Richardson @ScoreMoreSales Each lead is unique and requires a tailored approach – not one prescribed by formulas #ART S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S
  10. 10. Science9 When it comes to lead engagement, getting it right is pure science. The first rule is that speed matters. In today’s fast-paced marketplace, leads don’t linger around waiting to hear back. They’re perishable. That means there are tiny windows of time in which the choices facing the seller are simple: engage or lose. In fact, research shows there is a 391 percent better success rate with leads that are responded to within one minute. The second golden rule of engagement is to be persistent, but appropriately so. More than half of all leads that convert are not contacted on the first call attempt. Yet most salespeople give up after just one call. And the third golden rule is to create a choreographed contact strategy that includes a mix of communications channels based on the lead’s preference – including phone, email and even text messaging. 1 2 3 Nick Hedges @Nick_Hedges Leads responded to within 1 min have a 391% greater chance of being converted #SCIENCE S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S Lead Response: Science Viewpoint Lead engagement is pure science
  11. 11. 1 0 At the end of the day, people buy from people, not companies. Lori Richardson @ScoreMoreSales Tools alone don’t make people more effective – it takes grit, style, commitment, follow-through and other human characteristics #ART S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S Selling in a way that feels natural, sincere and effortless requires more than data – it requires emotional intelligence and the ability to approach every potential client as a unique individual. Certainly technology can help increase productivity and drive higher contact rates through formulaic processes, but if the automation feels too robotic, it can leave the wrong impression on the prospect. When it comes to lead response, a blended approach is required. Data and technology alone are just not enough to guide the tailored approach required by many clients. At the end of the day, people want to talk to other people, not pre-recorded voicemails, sellers rattling off scripts or deferring to Q&A-style answers on cue. Prospects want to be seen as unique, with a specific problem they need solved. A lead response strategy that is personalized to the prospect will go a long way in earning loyalty points. Art Lead Response: Art Viewpoint Personalized lead response earns loyalty
  12. 12. 3 Closing the Deal 11 3Chapter There’s a certain Hollywood quality to closing the deal. Nerves run high until the moment the signatures are signed and the sales bell rings out in celebration. It’s the one area where the old-fashioned, romantic allure of sales lives on in its full glory. But what’s behind all the bold bravado? Art or science? S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S
  13. 13. 312 Science: The science of closing a deal acknowledges that closing is actually an art. While we cannot boil verbal conversations down to a science, science can be used to dramatically improve the odds of success – matching opportunities with the right sales reps, employing guided selling based on industry best practices, and incentivizing through gamification. Art: People still prefer to buy from someone who is a good listener and offers the best perceived solution and value. Regardless of the industry, people buy emotionally and then they rationalize their decision. In the world of sales, technology has yet to replace people, and until it does, the art of selling will remain of paramount importance when a deal comes to closure. The Experts’ POV: Closing the Deal Nick Hedges @Nick_Hedges Science can be used to dramatically improve the odds of success in sales #SCIENCE Lori Richardson @ScoreMoreSales Science can’t replace confidence, emotional intelligence #ART S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S
  14. 14. Science13 For the ability to win, we are all indebted to the transparency provided by science. Let me be clear: closing the deal is what the artistically talented do best. In fact, research has found that being talented at the “art of the close” is the one characteristic that differentiates high performers from the rest. At the same time, the most artful of deal closers will fail without a strong support system. For this particular point, I’d like to use an analogy. Actors, whether they’re on film or on stage, are the force that draws us into a story. It’s their performance we see, and it’s their performance we remember. But imagine for just a moment your favorite performer without the makeup artist, the stage director, the set designer, the vocal coach, the soundtrack, the lighting and several other factors that are mostly invisible to the untrained eye. Without the support of dozens and sometimes hundreds of people with highly technical skills and abilities, chances are good your favorite performer wouldn’t be your favorite for long. Science can make three vital contributions to the closing of the deal. The first is that technology can manage complex data and automate the matching of opportunities with the reps most qualified to handle them, resulting in a close rate improvement of 111 percent. The second is that it can enable the creation and implementation of guided selling, which automates an idealized contact and follow-up strategy. The third contribution is that science can enable the creation of competition through transparency. If you’re passionate about sales, you know that winning is the most powerful incentive, and for the ability to win, we are all indebted to science. Nick Hedges @Nick_Hedges Matching opportunities with the reps most likely to close them results in a close rate improvement of 111% #SCIENCE S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S Closing the Deal: Science Viewpoint The most artful of deal closers will fail without strong support
  15. 15. Lead Response: Art Viewpoint Emotional intelligence is required to earn a buyer’s business 14 In the final analysis, we need emotional intelligence to make judgements and decisions that lead to sales success. Lori Richardson @ScoreMoreSales People buy from people. We connect and form relationships based on powerful emotional connections that defy formulas #ART So much can be guided and informed by technology, but in the final analysis, emotional intelligence is required to make the kinds of judgments and decisions that lead to sales success. People buy from people. We connect. We form relationships, and the best of those relationships are sometimes based on powerful connections that defy formulas. In addition, there are a number of fundamental skills, abilities and talents required to successfully earn a prospects’ loyalty and trust and eventually win their business, none of which can be manufactured. For starters, it’s important for the seller to be confident in the solution being presented. If the person selling doesn’t have confidence, why should the buyer? The seller needs to be able to make judgments guided largely by input and reactions to what’s being said by the prospect. The seller needs to understand, at a human level, how to change course based on those judgments and reactions, without missing a beat. The seller needs to be able to skillfully interpret the prospect’s tone of voice and body language. What’s the message? Is she ready to buy or is she annoyed or preoccupied? Science doesn’t translate signs and signals at that level, and that level is where the most critical part of the sales process takes place. ArtS A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S
  16. 16. 315 Nick Hedges @Nick_Hedges Science can’t exist without the art at every stage. If you don’t have art pushing the boundaries, your scientific process will become stale #RevUpSales Lori Richardson @ScoreMediaSales More heavily biased toward art or science? You may be losing deals! Consider broadening your approach #RevUpSales Art and science: Together in perfect harmony We live in a buyer’s market, where the control and power increasingly live with the customer. Today’s buyers have many choices and high expectations for the speed and quality of service at every turn. In today’s fast-paced, buyer-driven market, sellers have and continue to implement technology solutions to keep up with the demands of today’s buyer. They need to be available 24/7, listening via social media, leveraging data to infer insights amongst all the noise, connecting with their buyer at the right time and with the right rep, and so much more. But if sales leaders go too far down the science path, they risk losing the emotional connection with the buyer. Science can help sellers connect with more prospects at the right time and with the right sales reps, but art is equally important to drive emotional connections with customers. These emotional connections ultimately earn the trust, loyalty and business of the buyer. Sales leaders that recognize the importance of both science and art in this high-velocity selling environment will soar. S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S
  17. 17. 316S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E I N S I G H T S Get a Demo Today LIKE THIS EBOOK? WHY NOT SHARE: Call: 888-843-1777 Email: Web: Blog: Are you striking the right balance between art and science? Learn how smart sales technology can enable your sales reps to once again focus on the art of selling.
  18. 18. velocify.comVelocify is a market-leading provider of cloud-based intelligent sales software, designed for high-velocity sales environments. Velocify helps sales teams keep pace with the speed of opportunity and improve conversion rates by driving rapid lead response, increased selling discipline, improved productivity, and actionable selling insights. The company has helped more than 1,500 companies across a variety of industries improve customer acquisition practices and sales performance. Velocify was recently recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in North America by Deloitte and a Best Place to Work by the Los Angeles Business Journal. For more information, please visit or follow the company on Twitter @Velocify.