Habits are actions, routines, or behaviors that become ingrained over time due to frequent practice. They are often performed without conscious thought or deliberate decision-making, as they become part of our routine. Habits take us to where we were yesterday, and yesterday’s habits may not be good enough to finalize today’s sales transaction. What is most unfortunate about habits is that they can promote complacency and laziness in selling.
As a leader, you must encourage your team to break away from normal, habitual, traditional, and repetitive selling styles and approach sales activities with a measure of uniqueness – creativity. Creative Selling requires an achievement-oriented attitude that propels sales professionals into a dimension beyond what the customer expects.
From a practical point of view, Creative Selling is problem-solving. A problem is defined here as the GAP that exists between the ideal and the actual – the GAP between what could be and what is. In the selling situation, a problem is the GAP that exists between what the customer wants in a system and what the customer is getting. Another way of illustrating this would be to say that a problem is the GAP between desired performance, as it relates to a product or service, and the actual results currently being experienced.
The responsibility of your sales team is to close the customer’s GAP. Creative Selling is the process of bringing to the problem situation an exciting and unique idea, approach, method, procedure, process, plan, program, attitude, activity, or behavior that will close the GAP.
To develop Creative Selling within your sales team, you must:
Be willing to experiment.
Be willing to invest time, energy, and excitement.
Be willing to live with the possibility of criticism, disapproval, and occasional failure.
Be willing to challenge assumptions and old habits.
Be willing to adopt a risk-taking, energetic approach to selling.
As a leader, creating a Creative Selling environment within your sales team requires that you encourage innovation, risk-taking, and open expression of ideas. Here are several key actions to consider:
Build a culture where creative thinking is celebrated – highlight successes to reinforce the value of creativity.
Create an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and suggestions – no matter how off the wall they may be!
Recognize and reward team members who take risks, even if they do not always lead to immediate success.
Share stories of your own experiences with creative approaches and the lessons learned from them.
Position failure as a learning experience rather than a punishment. Analyze what went wrong, extract lessons, and apply those insights for future endeavors.
Organize brainstorming sessions where team members can collectively generate Creative Selling tactics.
Ensure your team has the resources, tools, and training to explore new approaches.
Balance the pursuit of innovation with the need for results and provide guidance on aligning creative approaches with business objectives.
Remember, Creative Selling is closing the customer’s GAP in a unique way. It is incorporating extra touches which give the impression that sales professionals genuinely care. It is portraying an image that is out of the ordinary.
Here are some Creative Selling ideas you can encourage your team to try:
- Develop a professional presentation in place of a standard written sales proposal
- Hold presentations in unique locations vs. the customer’s office
- Provide food and refreshments
- Meet outside of the normal 9-5
- Add an extra touch – customize covers and provide some swag
- Add a theme to a customer meeting
- Incorporate storytelling, role-play, skits, or interactive demos
- Send an e-mail or write a pre-call letter to the customer and follow up the sales call with an e-mail or post-call letter
- Include elements of gamification in your sales process – challenges, rewards, and competitions
- Use personalized videos and infographics
- Surprise customers with unexpected gifts, discounts, or exclusive offers
- Host a customer success workshop that focuses on helping customers achieve success with your product/solution
Creative Selling is keeping up with constant change by changing and continuously developing yourself and your team. Every customer and situation is unique. The creative sales professional responds to that uniqueness by evolving their own thoughts, approaches, and style in an appropriate, responsive, and creative way.
Creative Selling is moving toward a special, unique, and productive future that sets your team apart from your competition and sets the standard by which your competitors will be judged. Now, get creative!