The best sales people are those can combine the science of following repeatable best practice and the art – or perhaps even artistry – of skills like empathy, listening, charisma and intuition to the best effect.

From the scientific perspective, the old 6P adage holds true: Perfect Planning Prevents P*ss Poor Performance.  I don’t know if it’s really called the 6P approach, but if it isn’t then I’m happy to coin it so. The idea behind planning and analysing properly is that you factor out the things that can derail your deal, such as luck, as I’ve talked about before.

Where the art comes in is the judicious use of your experience, emotional intelligence and gut feel. Your intuition is often a powerful indicator of the likely result of a deal. Phrases like ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this deal,’ or ‘something’s not quite right about this prospect and I can’t put my finger on it’ are sometimes a case of you not properly applying the scientific rigour to your sales approach. On other occasions, it’s your intuition working correctly and you should listen to it carefully.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, when I played soccer.  Being on the old-ish side for such a youthful pursuit, I’m alway careful that I warm up first. On this occasion, a perfect storm of circumstances had conspired to cause me to be late for the first time in years. Against all my intuitive feelings, I threw on a bib and got stuck in.  I started in goal, reasoning that after 10 minutes or so in this physically less demanding role I could venture out into the backs and work my way forward from there. After a few minutes of outfield play I could feel a dull ache in my right calf. It was not painful, but still I didn’t listen.

Five minutes later, with the ball in open space I sprinted off to claim it and – twang! – tore my calf, properly this time. I hadn’t done the prep, I didn’t listen to my body and I didn’t go with my gut.

Don’t let this happen to your ‘must win’ sales deal. If you’ve exhausted all scientific methods, listen to your art and follow your gut, like I didn’t.

PS This is my 100th post. I hope you’re liking it so far :-).