Is selling an art, science, or both? We debunk the greatest sales debate of all time and discuss the shift in virtual selling with the rise of a “Phygital” model.

Across the globe, sales is part of every possible business model, be it in terms of a product or service. Eons later, man continues to struggle with one simple notion.

Is sales an art, or is it science? This in turn leads to the constant debate, whether a good salesperson is born or made or perhaps is a combination of both.

In the last few decades, e-commerce has flooded every central of selling and buying known to men, but a new revolution has recently taken the market by storm. The rise of “Phygital” has revolutionized how physical retailers execute businesses today.

Phygital bridges the experience between physical and digital markets, which was typically executed in silos. When a retailer seamlessly combines online presence with their retail store, it offers an omnichannel marketing approach. The result is a seamless customer experience that is interactive, real-time and immersive, and makes way for immediate engagement and sales.  Sandwiched between two belief systems, one fact holds divine truth – be it art or science or the combination of both, sales and profit is cemented within good old-fashioned, hard work.

Digital Sales or Online Selling

At the turn of the last century, one could not have comprehended the eruption of online shopping and digital sales that have engulfed commerce today. While it may have begun in the Silicon Valley, it is now largely a norm for even less-developed nations. Every day, we awake to new technology that have revolutionized traditional sales.

Does that mean selling is now a science and no longer an art? Let us analyze this enigma.

The life of sales personnel is quite dynamic, where no one day mimics the other. We find people of polar-opposite personalities who execute such functions.

Up first, we have the people who are out-going naturals at engaging with other people, building meaningful relations with customers and partners, and hold no reservations against endless conversations.

On the other end of the spectrum, we see the reserved ones, who has a large preference to stay indoors, observe from a distance and are analytical to the selling cycle. These are the ones who host more of a scientific and mathematical approach and prefer data over physical engagement.

It is between these two very different camps does rise our debacle; would the former with a charismatic personality charm the customers or would the data-driven skeptic win the cup?

Who will emerge victorious?

The Art of Sales

Now let’s take a closer look at the elements that make sales sound, look and feel more like art; when it comes to selling virtually, attracting the right kind of audience is everything.

Letting the customer know they not only want but also need your product/service is primary.

Today, social media and influencers drive more than half of total online sales. This method of digital selling comes with passion, drive, story-building and creativity. It takes connection to their audience, dedication, content management, aesthetics and an overwhelming sense of commitment. This is where content creators and imaginative zealots thrive and continually fuel the notion that sales is in fact an art. The time spent on building meaningful relationships and engaging with the target demographic, while constantly producing fresh yet relevant content is certainly not an easy feat to master.

The Science of Sales

At this point, in our argument, we turn to the ones who prefer to let the data do the talking. In a saturated world where online ventures pop up every single day, every possible brick and mortar business now has an online presence.

It now becomes paramount for data to play the part, set key metrics and study the trends. Here our disciplined and analytical souls take the stand, making use of analytics, KPIs and customer trends to strategize informed decisions that are always targeted and monitored.

With the natural flair of taking a step back and making sense of results, they then build analytics-driven strategies and recommend use of tools that boost sales periodically. They are less of a believer in one-time-wonders and would rather invest in long-term goals that yield time and drive solutions. They know exactly when to loop in a potential sale, how to improve with time and secure lasting results.

The Truth

Contradictory to what is traditionally accepted, a sound and informed union of both proves to be prolific. The best kind of sales is drawn from a combination of art and science, a symphonic amalgamation of data and charm!

Making a digital sale is rough waters, all the possible tools and techniques at one’s disposal are essential to success.

Expected to be the best amongst the best, triumph is plausible but is generated on the basis of industry trends, customers’ profiles, product/service KPIs, buyers’ patterns and a strong analysis of what it takes for the customer to make a purchase and return; all of these are possible only when creativity and data are married for better or for worse. In other words, sales of today begin with science and end at art.

Science-driven practices provide the much-needed competitive advantage in the market. However, if it is not balanced with art; it will be challenging to attract initial customer attention or influence purchasing decisions through original and inventive campaigns.

A successful sale sits comfortably somewhere between ludicrous and predictable – and as much as it sounds questionable, the same is with a purchase of today.  The decision-making process might be data-driven, but the impact is pure emotion. You are to rope in the customer but never underestimate their importance along the way.

For businesses moving from physical selling to virtual selling, it is important to note that virtual selling can be in different forms. These forms include a mobile application; a branded website; marketplaces like eBay, Shopify and Amazon; advance collaboration technology like Cisco Business Collaboration Solutions and social media sites like Instagram Shoppable Ads, Facebook Marketplace, and Pinterest Buyable Pins. What this means is that there are a myriad of ways to sell for businesses upping their game.

A major advantage of virtual selling is that you can sell to your customers anywhere at any time. Besides, virtual selling allows the use of technologies i.e CRM, EDM, data analytics, marketing automation etc, to maintain the connection with the customers, demonstrate virtual demos and create virtual training for the customers. Virtual sellers are very process-driven which allow them to optimize time usage and thus generate better ROI. This can be a pro for companies looking to scale up and grow.

Virtual selling has more advantages over physical selling. However, to succeed in this space, you must create a customer experience that customer and partners will find engaging. The more you can engage customers, the better your chances a successful sale. And thus, buying patterns and data paved the way for an immersive, creative experience that boosted sales and completely revamped the business.

The sale of today is a well-balanced mix of art and science, seamlessly combining the importance of tools, imagination, techniques and technologies. As opposed to taking sides, incorporating both ends would mean maximizing brand presence as well as revenue.

You can also browse my previous post for Cisco Viewpoints relating to Winning in The Virtual Sales World here or check out our most recent posts.

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