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KAGECHE: Scientific sellers must adopt artistic skills for successful sales deals

Philips research scientist Caroline Kyalo explains a point during a medical expo in Nairobi. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NMG
Philips research scientist Caroline Kyalo explains a point during a medical expo in Nairobi. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NMG  

Selling is not a science. This is what sellers who are scientists (app developers, crop consultants, engineers, IT experts) quickly and frustratingly discover.

One plus one is equal to two is scientific. When selling, the answer depends on how the question is perceived. As such it could be an is equal to sign, or the number eleven, or two ones.

How you see it, is not how the buyer sees it; and each buyer sees it differently from you, and so your job is to align your respective views. Hence why it is an art.

If only selling were a science (Sigh). This was the reaction by the team of crop scientists I was training a few weeks back.

This team sells biological solutions for pest control and, over time, had discovered that despite the science in their product, the sales were dwindling; what really baffled them, though, was that they were scientists selling (sorry, consulting, as they insisted) to fellow scientists (farm managers), but the buyers weren’t lapping up the product.

They had proven to the buyer that one plus one was two, so what was wrong with him that he wasn’t buying?

Scientists, they told me, are people of facts-and if the scientific facts add up, then logic dictates that the next course of action (purchase) is a natural progression.

If only it were that easy.

Whereas the pinnacle of successful selling is, indeed, being a consultant out to understand the client need and genuinely demonstrate how to solve his problem, the truth is that, if a sale is to happen, wisdom exists in knowing when to don the seller’s cap, and when, the scientist’s.

Let me explain. These scientists pitched largely via demonstrations (a science).

They would ask to be given a small parcel of land in which they would prove that their solution worked; a season later they would then turn to the buyer, beaming with satisfaction as if to say, “I told you so”, and then expect the buyer to fall over himself, writing them a cheque for this saviour solution.

But it didn’t work that way. There were other ‘pests’ worse than the ones their solution had eliminated; the pest of objections was particularly virulent.

“They say things like, ‘But product nyingine (other) works faster and costs less.

“How dare they compare us to product nyingine?” the scientists asked indignantly.

Human interactions

“Their product is synthetic, it has (insert chemical formula here)…” and on and on they went about defending their product against the competitor’s and how a scientist should see reason and stick to it.

Well, life teaches us different. It tells that a teacher will behave like a student when he is one; that in the right environment adults will behave like children; that scientists (farm managers) at the point of purchase will become artists (businessmen).

Logically, therefore, as scientific sellers we must equally become artists at the point of selling.

So nothing is amiss with the scientist buyer - he’s just human. And human interactions are not logical, but emotional, and therefore, artistic.

Selling is not a science. This is what sellers who are scientists (app developers, crop consultants, engineers, IT experts) quickly and frustratingly discover.

One plus one is equal to two is scientific. When selling, the answer depends on how the question is perceived. As such it could be an is equal to sign, or the number eleven, or two ones.

How you see it, is not how the buyer sees it; and each buyer sees it differently from you, and so your job is to align your respective views. Hence why it is an art.

If only selling were a science (Sigh). This was the reaction by the team of crop scientists I was training a few weeks back.

This team sells biological solutions for pest control and, over time, had discovered that despite the science in their product, the sales were dwindling; what really baffled them, though, was that they were scientists selling (sorry, consulting, as they insisted) to fellow scientists (farm managers), but the buyers weren’t lapping up the product.

They had proven to the buyer that one plus one was two, so what was wrong with him that he wasn’t buying?

Scientists, they told me, are people of facts-and if the scientific facts add up, then logic dictates that the next course of action (purchase) is a natural progression.

If only it were that easy.

Whereas the pinnacle of successful selling is, indeed, being a consultant out to understand the client need and genuinely demonstrate how to solve his problem, the truth is that, if a sale is to happen, wisdom exists in knowing when to don the seller’s cap, and when, the scientist’s.

Let me explain. These scientists pitched largely via demonstrations (a science).

They would ask to be given a small parcel of land in which they would prove that their solution worked; a season later they would then turn to the buyer, beaming with satisfaction as if to say, “I told you so”, and then expect the buyer to fall over himself, writing them a cheque for this saviour solution.

But it didn’t work that way. There were other ‘pests’ worse than the ones their solution had eliminated; the pest of objections was particularly virulent.

“They say things like, ‘But product nyingine (other) works faster and costs less.

“How dare they compare us to product nyingine?” the scientists asked indignantly.

Human interactions

“Their product is synthetic, it has (insert chemical formula here)…” and on and on they went about defending their product against the competitor’s and how a scientist should see reason and stick to it.

Well, life teaches us different. It tells that a teacher will behave like a student when he is one; that in the right environment adults will behave like children; that scientists (farm managers) at the point of purchase will become artists (businessmen).

Logically, therefore, as scientific sellers we must equally become artists at the point of selling.

So nothing is amiss with the scientist buyer - he’s just human. And human interactions are not logical, but emotional, and therefore, artistic.

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