Warning: Only The Creative Salesperson Will Succeed In Today’s New Economy

The Creative Salesperson. Does that have a disturbing ring for you? It brings to mind a potential meme; ‘what do you call a creative [insert job here]…? With scathing yet jocular punchline to follow.

What do you call a creative accountant? An inmate.
What do you call a creative chief exec? Self-employed.
What do you call a creative social media manager? Lonely.
What do you call a creative salesperson? Under-quota? Unemployed? A Marketeer? A Dreamer?

I recently heard the author who coined the phrase The Creative Economy. (25min BBC World of Business mp3 download here). John Howkins has updated his 2000 tome of that very name. He uses definitions like these;

“an economy where value is based on people’s ideas”
“being creative and being innovative is a mental attitude that you can apply to any economic activity”
“we are trying to do something novel, something shocking, and moving at warp speed”
“living off your wits, dependent upon what ideas you’re having about your personal input into your product or service”

I warmed to these ideas so readily that I was instantly toasted and roasted.

I hate sales environments that stifle this kind of yearning.

When was the last time you – or any of those around you – had an idea that could innovate for your customers or your sales process?

And you tested it to the extent that if it failed you came up with another (‘iterated’ in the jargon) or you kept it as a winner?

As well as this ‘creative’ flagstone, I also much enjoyed his distinction by comparison to what he terms “the ‘repetitive economy’ – where you do the same thing again and again and again. Whereas the creative economy is where the individual looks at what they are doing and choses to do something in which they can add a personal contribution.”

More colour flowed;

“volatility, intense competitiveness and high rate of failure of the creative economy”
“the creative economy is an economy of failure”
“everybody in the creative economy fails much more often than equivalent people in the repetitive economy”

Any salesperson worth their salt will recognise this as a concept.

Every Sales patch has failure in-built. No-one can ever attain perfect 100% win-every-single-deal stats. Alas, it’s true, we will lose. It may not be to a competitor, but we may well endure more advances declined than accepted.

Indifference, indecision or inability may all play their part buyer-side. In fact, when I first started it was impressed upon me that a salesperson hitting quota would be winning 1 in 3 deals.

Superstars improve upon this, of course. Yet that still suggests that even the on-target rep will lose more than they win. Two in three go begging.

Not every idea can be a good one. Yet I myself have both witnessed and suffered people – that should be senior enough to realise otherwise – wholly undermine such efforts.

Obviously my recommendation is that whether you’re a sales manager in whatever capacity, or in charge of your own turf, you should be fostering just such a ‘creative’ mindset.

Plenty of areas open themselves up for applying this thinking. Any interaction your prospects or customers have with you would be a decent start. Even better, link these with elements of their buying and your selling process.

Presentations, documentation, workshops, meetings, phone calls, pitches.

But there’s much more beyond these usual suspects too. Such as how you tee up working with you and your wares.

When was your last piece of ‘creativity’? When’s the next likely to be…?

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