What do color theory and sales have in common?

They are both a combination of art and science designed to achieve a specific result and enact a sense of emotion, need, or desire inside of another. If you know where to look, you’ll find creativity throughout the business world.

It’s tempting to balk at being creative in today’s tumultuous market — tightening the reins, whittling strategies down to the bare bones, and leaning too far into science alone seem the more practical ways to reach goals on deadline.

But you need both the art and the science to survive and thrive.

Kendra Tucker, CEO at Truckstop has picked up more than a few tips and tricks during her time in private equity and as a sales leader, equipping her with the mindset to win, even in economic downturns.

Kendra believes sellers need both the science of procedure and the panache to deliver that process in a way that connects to customers to close deals and win.

Listen to “#105: Balancing the Art and Science of Selling” on Spreaker.

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Understanding your role as a seller

How are you delivering your solution? Where does value factor into the overall system?

“Value-based selling is not a one-time or even a few times a year training experience,” Kendra says. “It truly is a system. It can’t just be, ‘I’ve got a star seller who knows how to insert value and customer voice into their sales process.’”

Kendra says value-based selling should permeate every level of the sales process, from enablement to operations to delivery.

“Whether it’s a tough period for sales or an awesome period for sales, that type of baseline rigor is really important,” she continues.

One of Kendra’s cornerstone questions for sales leader candidates is: How do you structure your team?

“I’m listening for a sales leader to say, ‘I always need to have my right-hand person, and that’s my sales operations leader.’ The metrics are so important,” she says.

Sales leaders should be holistic — motivational, and operational in their performance, also known as art and science.

Both elements are necessary for sales team success. Sales leaders need a partner who can sort through the weeds and pull out trends.

When budgets are tight and times are hard, that type of precision is invaluable. If your team is uncertain about where their focus should be and what they should be doing, your customers will be tool.

Honing in on sales obstacles in 2024 (and how to combat them)

Indecision and uncertainty are not the only trials to watch out for in the coming months, but — keeping on trend from 2023 — we should prepare for another year where those obstacles take center stage.

“There’ll be a lot of experimentation around how we communicate the value of our product, how we help our customers achieve real ROI through our product,” Kendra says. “Even this year, I’ve been talking to our product team and our product marketing team, getting really crisp about what our product delivers.”

Clarity can be worth its weight in gold in times of economic turmoil, and Kendra has first-hand experience leveraging that strategy.

How Truckstop navigated extreme demand and high volume

From the second half of 2020 into the first half of 2022, Truckstop experienced a boom of growth that demanded precise procedures. Kendra dug in and held fast with her team to come out the other side stronger.

“We took that moment to augment and solidify some of the sales processes,” she says. “We have an incredibly high velocity, high volume selling process, and there had been some process in place, but we took it as an opportunity to ensure that we had the right process, so we added value-based selling into our approach.”

When the boom times stopped, the groundwork Kendra and her team designed proved to be even more valuable in the aftermath of high volume. It gave them a clear idea of how their managers were leading, how they defined their roles, the effectiveness of training procedures, and what, if anything, needed further tweaking.

“In our business, if we have just one off-selling day, it can mess with the numbers for the whole month. You’ve got to be on your game,” she says. “So having managers who are paying close attention to input and output metrics, understanding when they need to jump into a seller’s day and unstick something, is really important.”

Creating a solid foundation for your team built on clarity and strong operations, mixed with that oh-so-critical dash of art and creativity, lends to a healthy and thriving sales process that gets results and earns you the wins you’re looking for to navigate calm and stormy seas alike.

Want to learn more about finding the balance between art and science in sales? Listen to the full episode of Winning the Challenger Sale to hear Kendra’s perspective on failsafes to leverage in times of difficulty, how to build a strong sales team, and more.

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the Winning The Challenger Sale podcast on our website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or just search for it in your favorite podcast player.

Andee Harris

Andee Harris is CEO of Challenger. Andee brings more than two decades of experience growing and scaling service and technology businesses. She has previously led multiple companies, both as CEO and Senior Vice President, through periods of rapid revenue growth, critical fundraising, and successful acquisition. These companies include Highground (acquired by Vista Equity Partners), TMBC (acquired by ADP), Syndio and Emerging Solutions (acquired by Emtec).