The Art or Science of Sales and Marketing?

There is an ongoing debate in sales and marketing: Are the most effective marketing campaigns and sales reps relying more on art and creativity, or leveraging a more systematic and scientific approach?
With the current focus on big data, a scientific approach to sales and marketing certainly has its pundits. Data is now collected and insights leveraged to learn more about buying behaviors – what works and doesn’t - helping marketers design and execute more effective and automated campaigns, and focusing sales reps on what matters most.
However, those believing art has more influence point out how “big data doesn’t do the buying, humans do”. In the end it all comes down to a conversation – digitally or person-to-person – between you and your prospect.
And here too, we see the debate regarding art and science. Modern decision economics argues a formula for an effective conversation – a prescriptive method to convince a buyer to “Yes”. While the neuroscience outlines an equation for effectiveness, it also reveals how important art remains in creating more attention-getting, memorable and effective campaigns and conversations.
In our new book, The Frugalnomics Surivival Guide, we discuss the importance of both art and science, how getting these aligned and balanced in your sales and marketing strategy can lead to better productivity and extreme sales and marketing effectiveness. 
Here's a little reveal of our findings ...

Balancing the Art and Science of Effective Sales and Marketing

The effective balance between the art and science of sales and marketing is revealed in an unlikely but real alignment between the ancient “art of persuasion” from Aristotle and the modern Neuroscience of decision-making.
Some 2,600 years ago, Aristotle wrote about three vital elements to persuading an audience or individual. In the The Art of Rhetoric, Aristotle writes ”Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself”.

Following Aristotles advice, there are three essential ways to leverage the “art of conversation” to convince a buyer to advance from “Do Nothing” to “Yes”:

  • Ethos – appeal to credibility. Provide evidence that you are trustworthy through your actions and consistency. Provide 3rd party proof points and references that what you are communicating can be backed up by others in the community. Include video testimonials and case studies of customers just like your prospect. Document the tangible financial benefits, professional and personal success achieved by others just like the prospect to demonstrate low risk and provide examples of substantial rewards.
  • Pathos – appeal to the emotions. To make a more emotionally charged impression, communicate your value in a story, and utilize visuals to make the story more memorable. Show contrast, painting a picture between business-as-usual and proposed improvements.
  • Logos – appeal to logic and reason. Quantify the pains and risks of the status quo, such as the “cost of doing nothing”. Address the strategic and financial benefits that can be gained, including the ROI, key performance metrics and quantified improvements within reach. Provide financial justification and make it personal, relevant and specific. 

The Neuroscience of Decision Making meets Aristotle's Art of Persuasion

Although Aristotle had no inkling of what modern neuroscience would later reveal, his mapping of these three essential persuasive elements startlingly aligns with the Triune model of the brain and decision making – a representation of how three parts of the buyer’s brain need to be stimulated in order to gain buyer’s attention, motivate their decision making and get to “Yes”.

The three major buying centers of the brain include:

  • The New Brain (and Logos) - The neo-cortex is often referred to as the New Brain, as in evolutionary terms, it is the latest to advance. This part of the brain is responsible for thinking and processing rational information such as cost-benefit analysis, financial justification and ROI.
  • The Middle Brain (and Ethos) - The middle part of the brain is where “gut” feelings are most often attributed (think “gut decision”).  Your credibility is what counts. Providing proof points / success evidence is essential to give this part of the brain a fuzzy / warm feeling that the decision is a sound one.
  • The Reptilian Brain (and Pathos) – The most ancient part of the brain in evolutionary terms, the Reptilian brain is responsible for survival. This part of the brain is responsible for “fight” or “flight”, and responds to visual stimulation / storytelling and contrast. Stimulating this decision making center determines whether your prospect pays attention / remember, feels empathy and connection to you, are motivated fundamentally by survival instincts to change, and are emotionally connected to your proposal and purchase decision.

The Bottom Line

As a sales leader, sales enablement exec or marketer you struggle with the Art vs. Science of sales and marketing. The good news? It doesn’t have to be one or the other, and in fact should be both. 

The smarter seller and marketer know that it takes leveraging both art and science to get buyer’s to engage and motivate them to purchase. You have to master the three elements of Aristotle’s art of persuasion (Ethos, Pathos and Logos), as well as leveraging modern neuroscience (the new, middle and reptilian brains), stimulating the three "buy buttons" in your prospects brain to get to a positive decision.

Art or Science? Leverage the art of persuasion and the science of decision making as your guide to sales and marketing effectiveness.


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