Creative sales training

How to Tap into Sales Teams Creativity and Utilise it in your Business

May 8, 2017
Written by: Georgie Mann

Create Time to be Creative

Sales and the wordcreativity are not often seen together. But they should be. Creativity has never been more necessary in the world of sales than today. Sales teams that are immersed in an environment that supports creativity, are more likely to discover new ways to find business, develop fresh sales approaches and methods of effectively closing sales.  These abilities are highly likely to be sitting largely untapped within your own sales force. Evidence shows that fostering sales staff’s creativity, setting up forums for sharing and team collaboration leads to increased sales and creative business solutions.

Suprising research from the Aston Business School found that sales agents from pharmaceutical and insurance industries who were more creative generated higher sales, providing the relationship between the Manager and Sales person was good. Bringing Sales teams together to discuss and develop solutions, gets around the blocks that can often stop good ideas seeing the light of day.

How to increase creativity in a sales team?

  • Regular brainstorming sessions – green hat thinking
  • Innovative sales training
  • Business games – uses the power of imagination
  • A listening environment where staff are rewarded for successful ideas e.g. a wall of fame for those implemented
  • Provocation to disrupt usual patterns of conventional thinking
  • Develop great questions to pose – creativity is all about problem solving

Even if you believe your sales staff are or can be creative, convincing the naysayers just takes a few successes for the idea to gain traction.

Ken Thoreson President of Acumen Management Group, Ltd  said in this article Why Great Sales People Value Creativity

‘If you don’t consider yourself a creative type, this may seem a little disheartening. It’s a common assumption that creative people are born, not made. The good news? You can improve your creativity by practicing, just like you would any other skill. Of course, it takes some persistence, but the right activities develop mind patterns that enhance your creativity power.’ Two of his easy suggestions are:

  1. ‘Record your ideas.
    Keep a notebook to write down all your ideas. It’s amazing what happens when you build an active list and start connecting the dots between thoughts.
  2. Ask questions. 
    Be inquisitive and increase your levels of interest. Not just at work, but in your personal life, too. Learn how things work, what people do–anything that peaks your interest.’

These two simple suggestions can be incorporated into sales training. The questions that you need answering to increase sales, can be pre-programmed onto an app for teams to solve. Technology makes it easy to begin the training even before the event itself. This maximises the chances that innovative and profound solutions will be hatched during the training.

During training, technology can be used to feed participants and team ideas back to the training leaders. These can be collated and shared ready for exploring in feedback sessions.

Danny Wong from Tenfold wrote, ‘Seek out courses that ask users to look for new sources of knowledge, approach familiar problems in novel ways, or embrace a challenge outside of their comfort zone. These types of activities have been shown to develop creative impulses, and can significantly impact a salesperson’s instincts over a period of time.’

We obviously agree whole-heartedly. Einstein was quoted as defining insanity as: ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. In terms of doing something different, Green Hat People use innovative, cutting-edge business games that enable the creativity of sales staff to emerge.

creativity & sales training

Freedom is the Key to Creativity

Teresa Amabile’s article in the Harvard Business Review  states, ‘When it comes to granting freedom, the key to creativity is giving people autonomy concerning the means—that is, concerning process—but not necessarily the ends. People will be more creative, in other words, if you give them freedom to decide how to climb a particular mountain. You needn’t let them choose which mountain to climb. In fact, clearly specified strategic goals often enhance people’s creativity.’

If you know which ‘mountain’ needs tackling, finding new ways up is relatively simple, if those that know it well are ‘released’ to scale it. For instance technology can be used to begin the ‘releasing process’ prior to any sales training . Consider sending a web app via text or email to your sales team a week or so before any training. You can make sure they are engaged before they arrive by careful preparation and involving them to share their opinions. By analysing data live at a training event, means you can get a good understanding of your teams’ current status.

Another benefit of running sales training in a group, is that given the right environment, they will usually be more creative than an individual. Bringing your sales force together around your company’s needs, in a friendly, competitive way, will stir the creative juices.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic in the Harvard Business Review said, ‘Let’s not forget that though individual creativity matters, team creativity is far more important. The Western notion of “creatives” as individual superstars is in stark contrast with the realities of real-world innovation. Creativity is mostly a team effort that can only result from coordinated group activities, because it requires individuals to leave aside their selfish agendas to work as a team — and that is why leadership is a key driver of creativity.’

A business game, played in small groups, is a great way to communicate strategies and get acceptance of new ways of working. When the strategy is set in a team’s own context, the understanding is much higher and the implementation more likely to succeed. Nothing beats peers explaining to each other how and why they should to start acting differently.

Michael Michalko’s Eight Ways to Turn Reps into Creative Thinkers said,

‘Success in sales depends on how well you differentiate yourself and your product. That requires creativity.’ Here are three of his ways to tap into Sales staff’s creativity.

  1. Encourage daily [or weekly] improvement. Ask your team to concentrate on improving just one selling skill each day. At the end of the day, allow salespeople to exchange ideas on what they did differently that day and what effect it had. Open the floor for suggestions on improving and expanding each idea.
  2. Post a brainstorming board. Encourage your team to generate solutions to a specific problem. On a whiteboard, write a common sales theme or problem that needs addressing.
  3. Brainstorm over burgers.Group brainstorming sessions allow your salespeople to bounce ideas off one another. Each week, have your salespeople meet for lunch in groups of four or five. Ask each person to read and share from an article, report, or book chapter on creativity and relate it to how it can help sales. When you can, invite an innovative businessperson to join you and provide an outside perspective.’

Technology makes it easier to tap into sales staffs’ creativity. Used in sales training, information can be displayed on a leaderboard which also adds the element of healthy competition.

creativity & sales training

A final thought from Edward de Bono

“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all.  Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” 

Let us help you progress your business by tapping into the creativity of your Sales force.

Help your sales team think and act in new ways. Ask for an online demonstration or to get a quote go to this link

What clients are saying about us:

green hat people, creativity

” We got our message across in a really engaged way!”– Alan Moore, Zurich Insurance