The Mirror Sales Analogy

A helpful way to understand how the science relates to the art is to think of a two-way mirror sales analogy


Customers know which side of the mirror their salesperson resides on: the science of selling or the art of relationships. Anyone in sales who has never validated how they are perceived by their customer may be surprised at their customer’s response.


When you are steeped in the science of selling (and leadership), your only interests are your own. You only see a reflection of your own interests. Your vision is limited to your side of the mirror. When you are steeped in the art of selling (and leadership), you understand there are two sides to every mirror and need to see both your own interests and the customers. This allows you deliver a solution to satisfy both. 


When a salesperson is on the science side of the mirror, they do everything in a systematic effort to land an order. Their efforts, through instruction or experience, become a prescribed methodology focused on one outcome: the order. When the salesperson starts doing things from the customer’s perspective, they see through to the other side of the mirror. From this perspective they still work for the order, but they do it as an experienced advisor, as someone who is genuinely interested in seeing the customer succeed. 



Staying on the customer side of the mirror—the art side—takes a lot of effort. And if there is one thing people dislike, it’s having to expend a lot of extra effort or changing their behavior. I’m not saying people are inherently lazy, but I am saying human nature will opt for the path of least resistance. If there are 25 steps a salesperson has to walk through to make an order, and they realize they can reduce the process by 10 steps and still make an order, that new 15-step process will become the favored method. With that in mind, once they can see the art side of the mirror there is the real danger that the activity that enabled the salesperson to get there will become a temporary step in their methodology of closing a deal. At that point they are right back to the science side. If we reference our earlier model, this behavior would describe a talented, transactional vendor. Relationship building cannot just be a step in the process to closing a deal; it has to be the process.


If we go back to our equation of Calls + Demos = Orders, there is an ideal ratio of calls to demos. Once a salesperson has mastered the sales call, they will reach a stable conversion ratio of turning those calls into demos and then turning those demos into orders. The better you are at sales calls, the more demos you will create; the better you are at demos, the more orders you will generate. But there is a limit to that conversion ratio, so eventually the only way to increase orders is by increasing the volume of the pipeline. If you want more stuff to come out of the bottom of the funnel, you have to pour more in the top. Over time the only way to increase the orders generated is by opening or expanding into a new market, introducing new products, changing your sales or coverage model: or you can move into the art of selling which increases your conversion rate by improving the efficiency of the sales process and enhancing customer loyalty through stronger relationships founded on the trust model. You can’t achieve the same levels of efficiency and customer service through the science of selling. It’s hard to create a healthy sales relationship with transactional drive-by selling or shaking hands over the Internet.



In a research study conducted at Cisco in 2005, it was discovered for every 1% increase in customer loyalty there was an approximate $20M boost lifetime in sales for a large enterprise customer. A decrease in customer loyalty, it was found, had the reverse effect.




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