Why is creativity vital for salespeople?
“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” – Edward de Bono, psychologist, author, lateral thinker.
It surprises me how often salespeople say that they’re not creative.
They throw their hands in the air and exclaim “oh leave that to the creative people” – and what happens then? It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. “I’m not creative” told repeatedly to yourself automatically shuts down the part of your brain that could be creative.
This makes no sense.
We’re all born with a natural curiosity, a creative wonder inside of us that makes us question the world we live in and that leads to better ideas. Creativity is not some abstract concept, or the province of a small minority of gifted individuals such as musicians and artists.
You are creative.
If you take a different way to work than usual, then you’re being creative. If you think about an interesting present for your partner, you’re being creative. It may take you a little longer to find a creative solution, but we all do have that ability within us.
Why are we talking about creativity?
Well that’s how deals happen and our society is shaped. That’s how negotiations end up getting worked out.
It’s not because we follow the rules, it’s because we look at the constraints that we’re in and say how can we be creative in those constraints. How can we make sure that our creativity gets us to where we want to be?
Not from A to B to C to D, but from A directly to D.
In sales, you are being creative when you discover new ways to find prospects, when you think of fresh approaches to enhance your relationships with clients and when you close sales more effectively. And as scientific studies have pointed out, creativity boosts sales effectiveness.
For example, research from the Aston Business School in Birmingham found that sales agents from pharmaceutical and insurance industries who were more creative generated higher sales.
Many businesses have flourished because of creativity, because of people thinking creatively about the best way to solve a problem. Google made internet searches better, Amazon simplified online buying and selling and Sir James Dyson came up with the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner because he was frustrated at the diminishing performance of his Hoover.
So what are 5 ways that salespeople can be creative?
1. Don’t accept what your prospect tells you. That’s their best idea at the time and although you’re supposed to trust people, you can’t say that they’ve properly thought through what they’re talking about. Try readdressing it, reframing it in a different way.
If your prospect saw that proposal from a different source would they see it in the same way?
2. Think about getting a working group together. Creative ideas are best sparked off with others. So you could start somewhere and end up in a completely different place just with the different brains in the room and their different approaches.
3. Think about changing your environment. Getting creative means you’re not sitting in your locked position at your desk the whole time, but going for a walk and allowing your mind to clear. Quite often I get my creative ideas when I’m fishing or hanging off the side of a cliff (mountain climbing is a hobby. I don’t randomly dangle over precipices).
Things naturally come to you when your brain is free from the usual stresses of work.
4. Change the way you look at things. Consider how things can be done instead of how they can’t be done. Many great inventions were at one time thought impossible.
Get your salespeople to draw up a list of sales-related tasks they think are impossible (such as securing a meeting with an important buyer) and ask them to come up with novel ways to do the “impossible”.
This too is backed up by research. A study of freestyle rappers who make up rhymes on the fly demonstrated creativity at work. By putting great rappers through an fMRI machine, scientists could see what was going on in their brains. It appears that some of the executive functions of the brain were deactivated while there was more activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which has been linked with creativity.
5. Avoid routines. Break out of the set ways you do things. Perhaps you could take a different route to work or change the order of the activities you perform during your day.
While routines are sometimes necessary, they can make you lazy and complacent. Approach some aspects of your life from a new perspective and you may find that fewer routines will reduce monotony, make you more flexible and open up your mind to creativity.
The point is we’re all creative people naturally. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t block ourselves down by thinking we’re not creative individuals. Instead, we must always say that we can use our creativity to find better solutions to problems.
Your prospects will react much more positively if you have this mentality.
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