Why Great Salespeople Value Creativity

Today’s post comes from Ken Thoreson, president of Acumen Management Group, Ltd. and a sales management thought leader. Here, he talks about the importance of creativity in sales and how salespeople can develop their own creative power.

Ken Thoreson

Recently, I attended a client’s two-day sales kick-off, which gathered their worldwide sales team in Miami. During the two days, I spent several hours with
their sales management team and salespeople, helping train and distill best practices. It was a great experience—they have a great sales culture and you could feel the positivity in the room.

During my sessions, I touched upon three main ideas:

  1. Understanding and collaborating with various personality styles.
  2. The need to be “greedy” with your time.
  3. Honing your creativity.

The importance of the first two are well-understood and widely discussed, but the need for creativity can take some convincing. Why? We have a habit of abstracting creativity from sales; sales is about numbers and business, not creative-thinking.

Yet, when you think about the top sales performers, they’re almost always more creative than your average salespeople. They come up with unique ways to prospect, find way to enhance client relationships and, ultimately, close more effectively. And it not just your reps—great sales leaders are creative, too. Hiring and developing teams, building a sales culture, and finding ways to exceed their sales quotas all require huge levels of creativity. This is especially true in today’s fast-paced world—to keep up, sometimes your reps need to think outside the box.

Developing Creativity

If you don’t consider yourself a creative type, this may seem a little disheartening. It’s a common assumption that creative people are born, not made. The good news? You can improve your creativity by practicing, just like you would any other skill. Of course, it takes some persistence, but the right activities develop mind patterns that enhance your creativity power. Below, I’ve listed nine examples of what you can do in your day-to-day life:

  1. Record your ideas.
    Keep a notebook to write down all your ideas. It’s amazing what happens when you build an active list and start connecting the dots between thoughts.
  2. Ask questions.
    Be inquisitive and increase your levels of interest. Not just at work, but in your personal life, too. Learn how things work, what people do–anything that peaks your interest.
  3. Learn something new.
    Get outside of your comfort zone, and learn something that doesn’t pertain to sales. Study a language, read a book, or take a course. Develop a skill that you’ve always wanted to learn, even if it isn’t “practical.”
  4. Avoid set patterns.
    Break out of your everyday habits and experience something new, if it’s the smallest change. Perform your morning routine in a different order, or drive to work on a new route. Approach your life—even from the smallest angle—with a new perspective.
  5. Be open.
    As you ask questions, take in new surroundings and try new things, be open! It might feel strange at first, be the key is truly listening to others and reflecting upon their advice.
  6. Be patient.
    Sometimes new ideas come all at once; sometimes they take time. Throughout your day, take a moment to step back and observe your surroundings more carefully. Look at a bird flying overhead, or a new building. Just getting outside your head for a moment can refresh your mind.
  7. Pick up hobbies.
    Distract your mind from business stress by developing a picking up a hobby. Whether it’s creative or physical, committing to something outside of work will help you refocus.
  8. Find ways to laugh.
    Laughing has been proven to reduce stress, but it can also help get your creative juices flowing. Take time to laugh more, especially at yourself.
  9. Take risks.
    Try something different, maybe something that scares you a little. The adrenaline will have a positive impact on your brain.

Your Turn:

Now, I’d love to hear about your own experiences with creativity in sales. What was the most creative sales tactic that you’ve used? What were the results? Let me know in the comments below!

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