By Selling Power Editors

How can you jump-start creativity in yourself and your sales team? According to Churchville, New York-based Michael Michalko – author, speaker and creativity consultant: “Creativity is seeing things in new ways; it is the source of ideas. Successful people look at the same thing that everyone else does and see something different. Michalko suggests the SCAMPER method as a very practical tool to develop creativity. The mnemonic SCAMPER is based on the teachings of Alex Osborn, a pioneer teacher of creativity and the “father of brainstorming.”

SCAMPER is an elaboration of that ever-essential question Why. “Everything new is based on manipulation of something that already exists,” notes Michalko. By asking questions, he adds, you force your thought process into new paths and patterns, and come up with new solutions:

Substitute: Can something change in the current process? Selling place? Procedure? Rules? Your organization? Your own viewpoint?

Combine: Can you combine one product’s appeal with that of another? For example, if selling candles, can you sell matches with them?

Adapt: An idea needs to be original only in the adaptation. What new context can you place the product in that is unusual? For example, a magazine salesperson adapted an idea from the way stereo accessories are sold – hanging packages from colorful racks. She places her gift subscription forms on spinning racks in shops. Retailers liked the new impulse items, and publishers had a cheap way to attract readers.

Magnify: Magnify means to take a topic and add to it, as in greater frequency of visits to a store. IKEA once increased its retail traffic by renting live Christmas trees. Customers came to “rent” the trees, return the rental trees (which were mulched) and received a coupon to return in April for a free live fir tree for planting. Thus IKEA turned one visit – rental of a live Christmas tree – into three.

Put to other use: The Jacuzzi Brothers developed their product in 1956 to help people with arthritis. In 1968 they discovered the luxury bath market and sales took off!

Eliminate: Sometimes the best sales technique is to simplify an offer and eliminate the clutter.

Rearrange or reverse: Sometimes just giving a presentation in a different order or changing your pace of speech can positively influence customer perceptions and increase sales. Reversing your perspective is a creative tool that can bring sales from new areas. Ask, “What is the opposite of what we always do?”

The important thing is to realize the need for creativity and act on it. Creativity brings the ideas. Michalko notes, “Ideas plus planning, persistence, patience and passion translate into goal achievement or success.”