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We had a sales review meeting yesterday with Austen Mulinder, Microsoft’s worldwide VP for Enterprise Sales. A relatively new executive at Microsoft having been with the company just about a year, he still had many quite fresh perspectives on our approach to sales.

“Sales is both art and science. And you need to have both. The thing is that you can’t win a deal with science. You win deal through the art. But you can lose deals if you don’t get the science right.”

Austen went on to describe the critical role of sales leadership to ‘create the science and hire/nurture artists.’ The ‘art’ is that intangible and often indescribable understanding and connection people have and can forge with other people and in the sales context those people are customers. The ‘science’ is the ‘dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s’, having smart account plans, good CRM systems, etc.

Having spent a good deal of my career in sales, what he talked about really hit home and aligned to the leadership model of upside/downside I talk about in this blog and it inspired leader/manager Distinction #18…

“Sales Leaders in sales create art; Sales Managers build the science. Both together build long-term mutual value”

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