Sales as an Art?

Patricia Sherlock

Following up on last week’s topic is another issue that I find difficult to undertstand and see constantly when we are in the field with sales teams—is the failure of companies to develop and use sales benchmarking techniques and to actually make decisions from the data they have. Managers many times ignore the data and explain their decisions that sales is an art and not a science.

This thinking of sales as art and not a science does not make sense to me today. Often times, the comment is that you can’t measure sales as if it is an art form and not a series of measureable steps. Hello–if baseball’s Billy Beane can measure the performance statistics that translate into wins and losses–I think sales can be evaluated and leaders can make a commitment to viewing sales in a consistent and quantitative way.

More next time on things that should be evaluated. Can you believe Phillies pitchers and catchers start play in 9 days! Like to hear your comments. Pat

Share this:

5 thoughts on “Sales as an Art?

  1. Pat,

    Wondering if you had recently read our book, Making the Number (published by Portfolio Books), which makes all these points using the same lingo and even references (like Billy Beane). Our entire reason for being as a company is to advance the discipline of sales benchmarking and best practices adoption.

    If you had not run across our book, I would like to recommend you pick up a copy (can be ordered at

    If you had seen it, we welcome your thoughts on the book and, ask that in your blog, you provide attribution.

    Mike Drapeau
    (770) 363-2045
    Sales Benchmark Index

  2. Hi Mike—I am not sure I have–I have read quite a few books and articles on this topic–and I have written about it myself in various articles I have done–however, I would be glad to read yours–my business consults and has assessments in the financial sector and I see this issue all the time–Even when managers have the numbers for example—when we do validation studies showing what correlates with sales success–I see many times—there is a built in resistence to accepting them-frankly I don’t get it–sales groups are way behind on this issue–i am interested in hearing your thoughts–Pat

  3. Pat,

    I have lots of thoughts on the matter. Our clients are largely those outside the financial sector so we may have divergent experiences. Right now, the demand for our benchmarking services is strong. Most of those who beat a path to our door have large direct sales forces that they feel are optimized, but are not sure whether the issue lies in the expense side or the productivity side or both.

    We give them the option to benchmark themselves using empirical not survey data.

    Fighting against the “sales is an art form” argument has been our mantra for some time.

    It’s only $20, but I ask that you buy the book, read it, and then give me your honest and critical opinion. There may be synergies that lead from the page from your business and ours.

    Please let me know what you think.


  4. Hi Mike–will do–I am always interested in reading what others are saying about sales(it my view most stuff I read is not very good or practical–it sounds like you are different–I am big on benchmarking but I see alot of talk and no action)–anyway, I have written a few books myself on financial sales–am thinking about writing another one on sales managing—-I will let you know what I think of yours and I will circle back to you–Thanks for the information regarding your book–Pat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *