As we continue to navigate uncertainty in the market due to inflation, high interest rates, mass layoffs and labor shortages, companies are under a lot of pressure to manage costs. This might be causing customers to rethink their strategies around purchasing products and/or services. Therefore, to introduce sales process innovation, drive growth and retain current customers, companies might need to tap into their sales team’s creative quotient.
Sales teams are the biggest assets companies have, and unleashing their creative potential can be the key to not only retaining customers but also closing more deals and standing out from competitors. However, many companies fall into the trap of stifling creativity with tedious and unproductive account planning exercises.
The creative quotient is the combination of a sales team’s ability to think critically and leverage their creative and quantitative skills to develop unique solutions for customers. However, it’s important to understand that this type of creativity is not about artistic expression, but rather functional creativity that solves a specific sales problem.
To tap into the creative quotient of a sales team, companies need to focus on problem-solving and challenge their team to think differently. The first step is to clearly define the specific sales challenge and objectives for the outcome.
Once the challenge and objectives are clear, it’s important to establish parameters for the solution. These parameters should consider the customer’s cost and resource limitations. Many sales teams would be tempted to try to cut costs and prices to win the sale, but this is a sure path to a bad solution.
The next step is to destroy false assumptions. Identifying and removing false assumptions allows the team to think more creatively and question true assumptions as they move forward.
Combining horizontal possibilities is where the real innovation happens. While it’s true that there are no new ideas, innovation often comes from combining existing ideas and applying them to new challenges. For example, Henry Ford’s moving assembly line was an improvement of an existing approach for a new business challenge. In sales, the application of existing technologies for telecommunications, including omnichannel sales and AI, has opened a new world of methods for working with customers.
To further tap into the creative quotient of the sales team, it’s important to step back from the process and allow the team’s subconscious to digest the work and generate additional solutions. This can be done by temporarily moving on to other business, or by taking a break and letting the team’s subconscious work on the problem in the background.
Once a range of horizontal possibilities has been developed, the team should rate each one and then develop the top three vertically, which entails going deep and building out the solution.
It may seem like a lot of work, but the payoff can be significant. By tapping into the creative quotient of the sales team, companies can break free from the constraints of traditional account planning and develop truly innovative solutions that set them apart from the competition.
SalesGlobe is a leading sales effectiveness and data-driven creative problem-solving firm. We specialize in helping Global 1000 companies solve their toughest growth challenges and helping them think in new ways to develop more effective solutions in the areas of sales strategy, sales organization, sales process, sales compensation, and quotas. We wrote the books on sales innovation with The Innovative Sale, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation, and Quotas! Design Thinking to Solve Your Biggest Sales Challenge.
Founder and Managing Partner at SalesGlobe
“We help companies solve tough sales challenges to connect their sales strategies to the bottom line.”