Sep 20, 2017 | Company News

The Art and Science of Selling: Insights from our Summits

Kristin McLerran's Avatar

Kristin McLerran

Customer Marketing

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Is sales an art, or is it a science? Throughout my career in sales and marketing, I have heard arguments for both.

The sales-as-a-science advocates would argue that sales is about ensuring you have the right number of touchpoints, finding data to illustrate the ideal times for those touchpoints, and then using that data to reach out to the right people at the right time. They would argue that data and numbers drive pipeline and deals.

The sales-as-an-art advocates argue that creativity, personality, and personalization are the keys to hitting your number. Especially in the modern sales world, which is full of impersonal calls and emails, the only way to be an effective seller anymore is to take a creative and unconventional approach.

But at our Summit events across the country this summer, an idea seemed to come up over and over again: what if sales is actually about the perfect mix of science and art? What if you use data, numbers, and A/B testing to make sales into a science, in order to make more time for the art, personality, and creativity? If there’s anything that I learned from our customers at the Summits, it is that the most successful sales teams do not choose one side or the other: they are able to strike the perfect balance.

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This idea first hit me at the New York Summit, when a customer mentioned that they use Outreach because it frees their reps from “the everyday mundane.” The customer explained that his reps weren’t hired to manage data; they were hired to sell. What Outreach does for him is use Outreach to manage the “science” of sales -- the data, analytics, and A/B testing sides -- so that his reps only have to focus on bringing personality and creativity to their meaningful conversations with prospects.

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This idea was again reiterated at the San Francisco Summit, during the customer presentation by Dan Burrill of Twilio. Dan explained how the Twilio sales team leverages data in Outreach to get “crystal clear” activity history and visibility into the messaging that worked and didn’t work. However, Dan doesn’t just use data to figure out what works; it’s about promoting creativity among his team. Dan and Twilio’s sales leadership encourage their reps to demonstrate leadership by proposing new tests, through which reps are encouraged to express creativity, collaboration, and participate in a “culture of continuous improvement.” Dan’s team is the perfect example of using sales as a science in Outreach to make more time for creativity and individuality to flourish in his sales teams.

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Patrick Purvis, CRO of DiscoverOrg, who presented about his sales team’s success at the Seattle Summit, also showed how science and art are a winning combination in sales. Purvis uses Outreach for both sales and customer success at DiscoverOrg, and leverages the data insights and A/B testing to predict the moves of prospects, opportunities, and current customers. The sales and CS teams don’t have to think about when or how to reach out, as their data and fine-tuning of sequences (the science) answers those questions for them. All they have to worry about is spending time perfecting the way they carry out conversations and connect with their customers (the art). Through this combination, DiscoverOrg has seen some insanely amazing results -- including a sequence that gets them a 28% response rate!

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My favorite takeaway from the Summit was hearing about where our customers find this value in our product. Outreach makes the scientific side of sales simple, easy, and scalable. It takes the mundane tasks and the manual reporting out of their days. It gives them visibility into their data and the numbers behind their successes. And by simplifying the science, it also gives them time to perfect their art -- giving them back time to be stellar, kick-ass salespeople, full of personality, creativity, and value.

The Summits are over for this season, but I for one cannot wait to hit the road again next year.

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