The following illustration of how to become creative in selling, happened to a salesman in a multinational FMCG firm. The product he was selling was tea in a sachet. His first quarter sales were nothing to write home about. In fact, they were pathetic. The heat of disapproval from the sales manager was getting intensely unbearable. He knew his product was superior to, and brand better known than, the competitor’s and yet it was the latter’s product that flew off the shelf and not his. He had to do something to change his dwindling fortunes; but what?! Marketing had played their part and the big brand name was out there; all the mini-markets, shops and kiosks in his region stocked the tea. But it just didn’t move.

Become creative in selling

And then he had a Eureka! moment. A significant portion of his target market was farmers and every so often they would make a beeline for the cattle dip to have their cattle treated. The next dip session was that weekend. At 4.30am on the material day, the farmers arrived at the cattle dip and the distinct aroma of homemade tea assaulted their nostrils; there, strategically placed near the cattle dip was a sufuria seatedon flaming firewood and full of boiling tea.

And right next to the sufuria was the salesman clad in an apron conspicuously branded in his product’s name. He was holding a ladle and ready to serve every farmer with a cup of the boiling tea, in one of the dozens of branded cups he had with him.  In the freezing cold, the farmers could not have asked for a better sight. And for the salesman he couldn’t have asked for a better result. His sales sky rocketed, he topped the charts and he turned the tables on his competitor. In fact, so spectacular were the product sales in his region, they caught the CEO’s attention. Amazing, isn’t it? What becoming creative in selling can do?

Is creativity important in business or entrepreneurship?

This episode reminded me of the book entitled, “What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School”. In this case, the title would be “What they don’t teach you at Sales School”. There is no creative sales training. In a market where customers see no difference in products and are not keen to migrate, the salesman or business must engage sixth gear and become creative. And unfortunately no “sales school” teaches creativity nor how to become creative in selling; this is something the salesperson must take in his stride if he is to grow.

become creative in selling

Why creativity is important in selling

What is the definition of creativity in selling? Creativity is the mental characteristic that allows a person to think outside of the box, which results in innovative or different approaches to a particular task (businessdictionary.com). Sadly, when the word creative is mentioned it is usually met by the lamentation, “I’m not creative.” Yet, like any other strength in life, some people naturally ooze it while the others don’t; and like every characteristic in life, those who don’t have it can learn it from that that do. If they really want to, that is. In any case, even the naturally creative don’t always nail it; they are just more willing to experiment with ideas.

Creativity is among the most important things in the sales profession; it is a secret weapon in sales. Creativity is what will make your product fly off the shelf, or gather dust on the shelf. Indeed, creativity is what will let you distinguish your product from the competition especially when customers don’t see a discernable difference in the two. After all, it is a sad truth, but customers rarely buy the best product or service, but what they perceive to be the best one.

How can you become creative in selling?

So how does one learn creativity? Indeed, how do you sell your product in a creative way? Perhaps the simplest and fastest way is to ‘google’ (or read) case studies; for every sales challenge a salesperson may have, it is almost a given that someone else, somewhere else, has overcome it. You need not re-invent the wheel; tweak it to suit you. Another way to become creative, as I was informed by a salesperson, is to mingle with those you see as creative and in the process sharpen yours. In fact, a key objective in productive sales conferences is to share best practice. (Typically held by FMCG’s or institutions with widely spread -usually across the country-sales people, sales conferences are internal, annual, must-attend events held to review past year’s sales with a view to improve the coming year’s. They are not sales meetings.)

Creativity in sales promotion

At the Housing Expo at KICC many years ago, one of the exhibitors sold differently from the rest. He had a free, scheduled, bus ride from KICC to the show house and back; today that is commonplace. Then there’s the fast food shop downtown that directs the chips aroma outward so as to drive traffic inward; you may have also seen in traffic the newspaper vendor who stands on a bump, where he knows you must slow down, to sell you a newspaper; and on and on.

Examples of creativity and innovation in sales abound. To succeed, you must be particularly alert to them, and, more importantly, seek to inject a dose of, or experiment with, what you have witnessed. This is how you become creative in selling.

You may also like: Creativity contributes to sales success


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