Selling Has No Formula-It Is An Art, Not A Science

Don’t be blinded to ignoring the sales cycle. In fact, when your sales are dwindling refer to it.

There is no formula in selling. I was told this by an experienced salesperson who has sold in the financial sector for over a decade. Today he heads over 500 sales managers and sales people countrywide. In a way he was right and this is what I wish to explore today. Let’s consider the sales cycle in Business to Customer (B2C) selling, that is, selling to an individual; an example is hawking or selling personal loans. The cycle goes through these steps:  prospecting, contacting, interviewing, demonstrating, validating, negotiating, closing and asking for referrals.  This is not a formula for selling. ∏r² is a formula for getting the area of a circle; it is scientific and works with every circle, anywhere in the world, day and night. Any deviation from it won’t get you the area. Selling, and therefore, the sales cycle, is an art, not a science; it is a guideline, not a deadline. The inexperienced seller who takes it as a formula will struggle in these ways.

When the sales cycle is demonstrated in class, the novice salesperson feels his twin cab turbo engines gunning at the chance to execute this simple cyclic procedure and he wonders why there is so much hullabaloo about selling. Then he is released into the field and finds out why. No one told him the sun was this hot; no one mentioned the gate keepers would be so unhelpful; and why didn’t the tutor mention that confirmed meetings would abort, promises would be broken and rejection would permeate the air? The revving of his turbo engines begins to subside, and soon enough can barely be heard beyond a whimper.  The unblemished sight he had of the perfectly smooth cycle quickly fades away to be replaced by a labyrinth of despair; what he thought was going to be a simple linear motion turns out to be anything but.

Further, seeing the cycle as a formula limits the rookie seller. He won’t see the close even when it’s staring him in the face. “I like the green one,” the buyer says-this is a blatant closing signal to the experienced buyer.  He will casually shift gears while demonstrating the different shades of tile, and expertly skip validating and negotiating, to attempt a close by asking, “Would you like two cartons of them or would five be better?”  As for the novice, he’ll be too busy wanting to demonstrate, validate and negotiate because that’s what the ‘formula’ says. It’s like the man who doesn’t see the girl desperately wanting to kiss, because he is adamantly insisting that he must serenade her over three dates and this is only the first. After all, that’s what the dating website said, he argues.

Whereas the Head of Sales who told me that selling has no formula was right, don’t be blinded to ignoring the sales cycle. In fact, when your sales are dwindling refer to it. Chances are that you dropped the ball in one of the steps which invariably affected the others.

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