Why Salespeople Are Just as Creative as Marketers

By Mark Donnolo

Quick quiz: Which of these two people is more creative?

  • Alan, the guy from marketing down the hall who used to work at Google.
  • Brian, the salesperson who just closed a large deal by combining your company’s newest, most profitable offer with legacy annuity products in a way that makes the customer giddy with excitement.

Answer: B. (Apologies to Alan – who is enormously creative, we’re sure.)

Creativity isn’t just for product development and marketing anymore. Innovation is alive and well in sales, and beginning to get noticed. Just because sales often relies on pipelines, forecasts, and relationship development doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a heck of a lot of creativity to get deals done. However, misperceptions still abound. Inspire your team to be innovative by debunking these common myths of creative thinking.

Myth #1: You have to be born with creativity. Innovators are those few individuals blessed with naturally high creative intelligence.

Reality: Most creators and innovators have learned how to be creative. Creative processes and principles are easy to learn, but practice and tenacity are required before they produce results. This is particularly true in the sales environment, which tends to be reactive and defaults to preconceived answers.

Myth #2: Creative ideas come from eureka moments. Creative people have moments of epiphany that lead to innovation.

Reality: Creative moments are usually the culmination of a creative problem-solving progression and hard work. In most situations, brilliant results come amid numerous other ideas that never see the light of day.

Myth #3: You have to work in a heralded innovative organization in order to be creative. The business press regularly covers corporate innovators like Apple, Google, and Pixar with a focus on how they work, how their offices are designed, and how their cultures function.

Reality: Any organization can adopt innovative practices, and any individual can use creative methods independently. Being in a really cool environment can inspire a creative mood, but, if you’re in the 90 percent of sales environments that aren’t regularly cited by the business press for their innovation, the opportunity still exists to create distinguishing competitive strategies and customer solutions.

Myth #4: Innovation doesn’t apply to sales. Sales necessitates a target customer base, an offer, and a sales pipeline in order to hit your numbers. Innovation belongs in product design or marketing – but not sales.

Reality: Innovation wins deals. Innovation can be the differentiating factor in a competitive sales situation, and continued innovation can help retain customers.

Mark Donnolo is managing partner of SalesGlobe and author of The Innovative Sale: Unleash Your Creativity for Better Customer Solutions and Extraordinary Results and What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation.