Super successful sellers have some similar key characteristics. Self-starting, hard-working, disciplined … there are core traits and outliers that show up on personality tests.
However, more telling to me than any of those core traits is the investment someone makes in their own career and skills. Well-rounded people have interests in many things and that “interest” drives them to level up their knowledge and skills – more product knowledge, more market insights, more industry understanding, and so on.
Sellers face constant moving targets.
- Buyers pulled in dozens of directions.
- New competitors popping up every day.
- Product changes.
- Market disruptions.
- Internal changes – new organizational structure, new comp plan, new goals, new territories.
Adaptable, flexible, innovative – all facets of someone who can creatively approach problems and challenges. Creative sellers are willing to try new things, new angles, new approaches. They have that “Growth Mindset” we mentioned in part 2 of this series.
How do can you become more adaptable, flexible, innovative, and Creative?
Take an Improv Class. Yes, you might just be the next breakout stage comedian, but more likely, you’ll stretch yourself in an important way – thinking on your feet. Improv is actually really fun. You stay in the moment and play off of your counterparts. Without much prepping or structure, your creativity and playfulness can flow free in the moments and you get sharper at thinking on your toes – which, when your customer swerves unpredictably, helps keep you calm, cool, and collected.
Get Arty. I recommend painting but any art practice can help boost your creativity. The struggle bus is REAL if you’re the Type A control freak trying to paint a barn or fruit bowl. Take an instructor lead painting class. They set you up for success but if you can break out of your own rigidity or expectations of perfection, creativity can start making appearances and (gulp) make it fun. Personally, I enjoy the aspect of having paint covering my fingers. At the end of one of these classes, everyone compares paintings and with one original concept, you can see the bones of structure but individual creativity pops up and all the paintings look unique in the end.
Whether it’s painting, sketching, pottery, drawing with crayons, or any other art form. Get messy, let go of control and expectations of perfection to increase your creative spirit.
Prepare but don’t “present.” This sounds counterintuitive – especially after talking about how to free up your creativity in the moment with improv. Whether you’re meeting someone at a networking event, making the first call, or pitching your solution, a slide show with graphs and text is not going to persuade anyone over the tipping point.
Write the pitch. Build the slide deck. Practice. Then go in and have a conversation without those props.
Don’t present. Be present. Compel with passion, not with slides.
Being prepared gives you the flexibility to be in the moment with your client – more free and creative in your conversation. Because you’ve practiced, you know the key points to address but don’t sound like a robot and don’t go off course.
Read Beyond Sales or Business Books. I’m guilty of having a pile of business or psychology books stacked up ready to read at any given point of time. There’s so much powerful content to consume. However, on the eve of one particular vacation, my sister told me she would chuck my luggage into the pool if I brought along yet another business book on our trip (she would totally do it, too!). She then supplied me with some really juicy tales which I proceeded to devour without guilt or care. I needed that reset, a mental vacation from my all-consuming desire to learn more and share it with my clients and sales teams.
Since then, I’ve expanded my reading list and it includes fiction, poetry, and biographies. Oh, you’re still learning. You’re still absorbing lessons and experiences that will help you grow your skills and benefit your careers. However, unlike MOST business authors, the voices of poets and storytellers help unlock different parts of your brain and wake your imagination to add color and details to their words – thus, employing you, the reader, in their creative endeavors.
Here are a few quirky favorites with my reviews:
Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer, by Heather Lend – You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel it all when the author shares stories that hit us with simple truths and will have you looking for the good too.
The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death Defying Acts, by Tessa Fontaine – In her real-life memoir about traveling with a sideshow filled with eccentric characters, the author shares her struggle with the unknown and pending grief. Her relationships with the performers and the sweltering grind of performing create a colorful world you could only imagine.
Ella Minnow Pea: A Life in Letters, by Mark Dunn – A short but imaginative a creative read you won’t forget. By the end of the book, the author is only using a handful of letters in the alphabet to convey the story to the reader. It’s one of the most unique books I’ve ever read!
Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah – I recommend you listen to this via audiobook as Trevor Noah narrates his story himself. Born “literally” a crime in South Africa during apartheid, you’ll find yourself laughing and rooting for him and his indomitable mother. I made my husband stop and listen at least a dozen times.
E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems from 1904-1962 – With his unusual punctuation, grammar, and lack of care for the format, ee cummings is one of my favorite poets. His poems are romantic, sometimes light, sometimes dark, but almost always surprising, as in this one, “if” –
If freckles were lovely, and day was night,
And measles were nice and a lie warn’t a lie,
Life would be delight,—
But things couldn’t go right
For in such a sad plight
I wouldn’t be I.
If earth was heaven and now was hence,
And past was present, and false was true,
There might be some sense
But I’d be in suspense
For on such a pretense
You wouldn’t be you.
If fear was plucky, and globes were square,
And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee
Things would seem fair,—
Yet they’d all despair,
For if here was there
We wouldn’t be we.
Fun and quirky and made to contemplate. To apply your own creativity!
Just like grit and charisma, we have a natural abundance of creativity. We tend to stifle it and try to live a controlled and orderly life – a picture of perfection.
Yeah, that’s cool. Unrealistic (though we’re hell-bent on pursuing it) but stretching your creative legs can help you think innovatively, live more flexibly and adapt to situations that zig when you thought they would zag.
Until next time stop hoping and start SELLING!