Article | April 27, 2012

Sales Leadership: Creativity Is Critical

Ken Thoreson Acumen

By Ken Thoreson, president, Acumen Management Group LTD

In many of my sales leadership workshops and in my writings I have often spoken on the need to hire creative salespeople and the need for sales management to offer creative solutions to the many problems you face.  The good news is “creativity” can be learned and enhanced in everyone!  I believe it is also critical in building a sales culture of high performance and coaching sales strategies.

I recently read a book titled: Perfect Phrases for Creativity and Innovation by Karen Eriksen, published by McGraw Hill.  I picked up the book because in my keynote program; Gourmet Living I normally cover the aspect of adding creativity to your life to enhance both personal and professional success. In reading this book it quickly added ideas and insights that can be easily implemented immediately.  This is a sample of the first four chapters:

  •  Creativity Begins with Me
  •  Motivating Teams to Be Highly Creative
  •  A Structure for Creativity: Idea Management and Implementation
  • Discovering the "Magic"

Each of these chapters and the other four chapters provide concepts, phrases and tools to help the strategic sales leader improve their personal creativity, but the book also includes a process to coach individual performance. What I found extremely valuable was the chapter on “a structure for creativity”.  In this chapter the author identifies eleven steps to lead a team through creative problem solving event. The steps include:

  • Selecting the creativity team
  • Defining the problems
  • Generating potential solutions (including “wacky” , innovative or probable)
  • Incubation of ideas
  • Evaluating prioritizing, and choosing
  • Improving solutions
  • Generation a menu of potential strategies
  • Deciding on step by step action plan
  • Communication of the action plan
  • Implementation of the action plan
  • Evaluating the results

In each section Karen breaks down the concept into the detailed steps within each of the eleven categories, as a bonus she includes tools to assist both the leader as well as the participants in improving their ability be creative. While all of these steps are somewhat fundamental in facilitation, the added elements of stimulation for generation of creative solutions becomes the meat within the book.

Anyone reading this book will come away with the “words or phrases” to use for personal or group stimulation.  Each chapter is loaded with these kinds of phrases. This is just a sample:  of the categories: Perfect Phrases for: 

  • Brainstorming,
  • Combining or Borrowing,
  • Defining the Problem,
  • Stimulating the Team
  • Encouraging Others Personal Creativity

If you need to improve your own creativity quotient and increase your organizations ability to solve problems more creativity, read this book.