Recently I had the opportunity to work with a great client at their worldwide sales conference in Miami. During the two days, I spent several hours with their sales management team and four hours with their salespeople, they have a great sales culture and you could feel the attitude in the room. In the post-meeting evaluations several reactions to the programs came out: 1) The importance of understanding the various personality styles, 2) The need to be “greedy with your time,” and 3) the fact that an individual’s creativity can be learned or enhanced.
There is no question about it, top performers are more creative that average salespeople. They seem to come up with unique ideas to prospect, find ways to enhance client relationships, and they close more effectively. Sales leadership requires creativity as well. Sales managers who are exceeding sales quotas, hiring and developing their teams, and building a sales culture require huge levels of a creativity quotient.
The good news? You can enhance your creativity by “working on it”…In my Keynote, No Regrets, the Do-Over Factor, I share three tenets for personal and professional success. Creativity is one of those three foundations. I have listed nine actions you can work on to develop mind patterns that will enhance your creativity power:
- Track your ideas: keep a notebook and write down all your ideas-about anything, it is amazing what happens when you build an active list.
- Inquiring minds want to know: be inquisitive, ask questions, increase your levels of interest
- Learn about different things: study a language, read a book, take a course, get active
- Avoid set patterns: break your habits, floss your teeth differently, brush your teeth in different sequences, drive to work on a new route
- Be open: listen to others, try to accept new ideas
- Be patient in observations: take the time to watch a bird fly, look at the woods more closely, look for new patterns, watch the river flow
- Engage in hobbies: your mind must dis-engage from normal business stress,
- Improve your sense of humor: learn to laugh, even at yourself
- Be a risk taker: try something different, the adrenalin will cause a positive impact on your brain.
Now, Add Flexibility to the Mix!
I am reading a terrific book: The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. It is about the first month of WW One, a topic I had no real interest in but the book came highly recommended by a friend and it is a great read! So what does WWI have in common with sales leadership?
In the book the author describes how both the German’s and French began planning for WWI in 1870. Both countries had extensive strategies and tactics planned down to minute details; from troop movement, road maps, train schedules, and specific plans on day to day operations. These plans were ready to be executed based upon the right spark! Both countries expected the war to last just a few months and both were led by strong-minded generals who were focused on executing “their plans.”
The result? The first month everyone was focused on the wrong objectives or not focused on the right objectives. A war that lasted a very long time that was highly costly to every country in Europe and the USA. Why? In the beginning the generals stuck to their structured plans instead of using creativity and adaptation to new information.
In the world of sales management, we are tossed challenges on a daily basis and it is easy to be distracted and it is easy to lack the time or maintain a focus on achieving the planned activities.
As sales managers we must have plans and tools for growing our organizations and achieving our goals — but we must adapt to our changing environments. We could, for instance, lose a salesperson unexpectedly, see a major opportunity starts to slide, or learn that marketing has not met its lead generation objectives. All of these or other disruptions could cause a sales manager in a fixed mode to lose the battle!
It is critical we remain flexible and creative in our approach, but having a foundation, systems or structure can help leverage the busy life of a sales manager. Don’t get locked in and but use the necessary tools to maintain direction and focus.