1 Comment

  1. Coach Hughes
    February 19, 2014 @ 9:47 am

    By all means, creativity is an important part of the sales process. However, it is a skill that most organizations suffocate. Obviously, not on purpose, but through their training and processes.

    In training, we teach them the products and what it was designed to do. We tell them, “Look for these problems and then sell this product.” It’s the common theme in product training.

    In most organizations, when asking for the forecast, we also ask for the product forecast. We are automatically helping sales people get into the “Product Solution” box.

    Of course, any sales rep can add the intelligence and skill of thinking out of the box, but that is a technique that most organizations only allow after some amount of time, to only senior sales people, or ask the sales manager to help reps with that part.

    It’s not the reps fault. Where did we teach them about creativity? Since it is not done in most training programs, it is left to the sales manager. The sales manager needs to use their effective coaching skills to develop creativity to problem solving for all reps. It is not just with customer solutions either.

    I remember a situation where a very smart sales rep added his creativity to help their customer, a government lab under the DOE, to acquire our products. Under normal circumstances, the process would take a long time, would need to out to bid and become very competitive. The customer did not want to do this because they really needed this product, and a lot of them.

    It turns out that the local DOE lab had an authority to approve products under $50,000.
    At the time, the skinny version of our product cost $65,000.

    The creative answer! The sales rep worked with manufacturing to break down one more level. Now we could offer the same solution by helping the customer acquire a part number that cost $40,000 and another part which cost $25,000. In addition, he added a cost to the customer of integrating these two parts for $2,000 per machine. All profit because the machines were still built as if it was the one box.

    Because of this creativity, the customer ordered 55 of these machines with requested deliver ASAP. This resulted in an order for $3,575,000 PLUS $110,000 for integration which fell directly to the bottom line.

    Where would that opportunity be if the sales rep had not added his creativity?

    Many people in sales may know of the “Hanger” exercise. It helps people understand creativity. We tell them that a manufacturing company has gone out of business. They left a warehouse with 800,000 metal hangers in it. Then they are asked to brainstorm on how many different ways they could use these hangers for new products. It’s a good exercise.

    In summary, creativity is an excellent skill to have in sales. To get people trained, we often stifle creativity. If you want more ideas, give them the freedom to test new ideas.

    Good Selling,
    Coach Hughes