Well it is that time of year again when the air gets crisp and the kids’ head back to school. My senior in high school had been dreading her reentry. You see this semester she is required to take art to graduate. While most kids would see this as a blessing – Art? Yippee! How hard can that be? My daughter saw it as the coming bane on her permanent record. Grace is a bit type A and she works very hard to excel at her studies. But, art? Well she doesn’t have much talent for drawing and she couldn’t see how she would be able to excel. I was bracing myself for a grade somewhere south of B. What greeted me at the door the day after her first art class was something I never expected. “Mom,” she said, “when I entered the art room and the teacher said, ‘grab a sketch pad,’ I began to sweat. She told us to look in the mirror on our desks and draw a self portrait.” My daughter continued,  “At this point I was in full panic mode but I tried my best to create something that even resembled a face, no less mine.”

Grace told me her drawing was a “hot mess,” and the teacher agreed. Then she told me that the teacher used the exercise to discuss the work of the great master, Leonardo da Vinci. She introduced them to Leonardo’s discovery – art is science. Every single one of his paintings and drawings follows a mathematical formula, a process, that can be documented, taught, and replicated. Grace learned that every human face has the same proportion that is broken into 3 equal parts horizontally and vertically. “Check out Mona, as in Lisa”, the art teacher told them. She continued,  “And his most famous drawing, the Vitruvian Man, is a study of the proportions of the human body linking art and science in a single work for all to see”.

With this revelation, Grace was redeemed. She understood that when she learned the science of drawing and applied the process she could earn a good grade.

So if art is science, and many people believe that selling is an art, then isn’t selling a science? It most certainly is! And that is good news. That means that selling skills can be acquired by following a process that is defined, documented, replicable, and coachable. Effective, sustained selling is not happenstance, it can be taught. That means we can take ordinary people, teach them a sales process, and coach them to extraordinary results. Those sales people that practice and commit to developing their craft are the ones that create art.

Sales leaders who understand this and take the time to provide a well-defined sales process and methodology that supports their company’s vision and culture will have improved, sustainable sales results across their entire sales force. It is the best of best practices, or a master practice, if you will. It is the pixie dust!

Those that maintain that selling is an art, and sales people are born, not made, are relying on serendipity to staff and manage their sales forces. Serendipity can’t be taught, scaled, or forecasted with any degree of accuracy.

So what about sweet Grace’s portrait? With each iteration of her work something resembling Grace’s beautiful face is beginning to be documented on paper. But more importantly, she is proud of what she sees.

Do you believe sales is a science, or an art? I’d love to hear your point of view.