Doug Tucker, the MD of Sales Commando, discusses creativity in selling and how it can impact a business.
Our lives are governed by rules. There are also rules that govern nature, our planet and the universe our tiny blue dot is spinning in. In sales one of the first things we all learn are the rules – and one of those rules is to follow those rules. So rules are a good thing, right? Well not necessarily.
There’s another rule in sales, and that’s the rule of creativity. It’s a rule that allows you to break the rules, think outside of the box and pave the way to a more fulfilling, innovative and rewarding sales experience. Whether that’s pitching to a first time prospect, handling an objection, or leading a sales team.
Let’s define what creativity is in the context of sales, and more importantly what it isn’t.
Creativity is not a way of shortcutting the effort you need to put in to make a sale or motivate a sales team. Being creative is about how you use the rules in your sales toolbox to unlock opportunity, motivate and nurture positive outcomes.
Many sales people think being creative is someone else’s task; that the function belongs to a different department or organisation but the reverse is true.
Everyone is creative
When we think of creativity we often think first of advertising agencies. Your organisation may employ one or have a marketing department that fulfils a similar role. In an advertising agency, for example there’s a department called “Creative.” So that’s that solved then. Everyone else who works for or employs an advertising agency and is outside of this department by default isn’t – and doesn’t need to be – creative. Creativity is surely the job of the high and mighty creative department. The title is nailed to the department’s door so that must be right.
This is a fallacy. In an advertising agency, everyone is creative – the media planner, the account handler – even the receptionist dealing with incoming, potentially new clients. Everyone in an advertising agency is creative.
The same goes for your business too. Without creativity in every department of the company you work for, or the company you’ve established or are responsible for, everything would stagnate and the competition would soon gobble you up. Without creativity there is no innovation, and without innovation there is no future.
Being creative on the front line of sales
There are two types of sales person – the order takers and the go-getters. Whilst the order takers are slowly being replaced by order-processing technology, it’s the go-getters who, at the front line of sales, take the risks, think around problems, deliver outstanding customer satisfaction and generate wealth. And the way they do that is by being creative.
It all starts at the prospect research stage. Those who are not creative will only have a vague idea about who they’re going to pitch to. In terms of presentation they believe one script fits all. The creative sales person will have an individual dossier on each potential prospect, researched to such a depth that when a presentation goes off-script they have the creative ability to stay in control.
Even after a presentation, the creative sales professional never stops working. By analysing what’s gone before they’ll be asking “could the presentation be shorter, more entertaining, more heartfelt or more flexible?” At every stage of the pitch process, the creative sales pro will go that extra mile to make that extra sale.
Being a creative sales leader
Whether a sales department manager or a business owner, there are two types of sales leader. The non-creative will sit behind their desk and wait for the sales team to do their job. They’re sales people after all, and after all they do know the rules.
The creative sales leader is very much the opposite. They’ll actively help their sales team to sell. They’ll roll up sleeves, get stuck in, nurture their sales talent, set goals and rewards and help their team achieve them.
Creative sales leaders will also embrace new ideas through brainstorming. They know there’s never such a thing as a bad idea and even the most outrageous ideas may lead to new creative solutions for the task or pitch in hand. Like the creative sales pro, creative sales leaders put in the extra effort to get better results.
Your permission to be creative
The toolbox of sales rules is important but, as I’ve hopefully demonstrated here, it’s how you creatively use them that will determine whether you as a sales pro, or your organisation, innovates and grows or stagnates and dies.
If you’ve not already, it’s time to tick the outside of the box. On your next pitch, presentation or sales meeting, I give you permission to be creative and hope you will encourage others to be creative too. Take one step back, think innovatively, put in that extra effort and the rewards will justifiably be yours.