The art and science of sales

Simon Chuter is a sales and marketing innovation adviser at the Sussex Innovation Centre
Simon Chuter is a sales and marketing innovation adviser at the Sussex Innovation Centre

Having spent my entire career in sales, marketing and fundraising, I believe that the act of selling is both an art and a science.

Research, particularly in areas such as neuroscience, continue to reveal previously hidden truths about what influences us.

That said, no matter how well refined your sales process, there is still the artful, human element to B2B sales.

Daniel H. Pink says that we are all in sales. Just look at your emails and text messages over the course of the last week, you’ll see that you were often convincing someone to take a specific action. Be it getting a colleague to help you complete a project, or persuading your partner to help you clean the house.

It’s a fundamental human skill, but that doesn’t mean we’re naturally good at it.

He suggests that the new ABC of sales are instead Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. By attuning to someone’s perspective you start to understand what motivates them.

The hardest part of being a salesperson is that every day you face an ocean of rejection.

According to research by Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania, one of the best predictors of success is how one explains failure – your ‘explanatory style’. A positive explanatory style can turn setbacks into learning and opportunity, while the opposite can turn them into disasters.

We live in world awash with information; what can give you a comparative advantage when selling is to give clarity through distilling and curating that information.

Another of my favourite pieces of research comes from social psychologist, Amy Cuddy.

She suggests that ‘power posing’ – standing in a posture of confidence, for example the ‘victory pose’ when both arms are held a lot in the air, feet shoulder width apart and the body open, can boost feelings of confidence and can have an impact on our chances of success.

Cuddy has said that the broader idea is how we carry our bodies affects how we feel about ourselves, how we interact with others, how we perform and much more.

It’s not just about standing like a superhero for two minutes; it’s about carrying yourself with power, pride and poise, as you deserve to do all the time.

Sales is about meeting an unmet need. We should connect on a human level, create and maximise the opportunity through a deeper understanding of ourselves and our clients and blend both the art and science of selling.

Simon Chuter is a sales and marketing innovation adviser at the Sussex Innovation Centre. He led a Bite-sized Learning session on the art and science of selling for Brighton Chamber. For more events visit: