The character trait your salespeople should have but probably don’t

What makes a great salesperson? Is it their love for competition? Their empathy for a prospect? Their ability to quickly build rapport? Or, maybe it’s their organizational skills? Every salesperson and team is a bit different but there are common traits that make great salespeople. But… I’m not going to write about that because I would definitely not be the first to do so.

However, I am always surprised to not see a very important (maybe the most important) trait on any of these lists. Creativity.

I don’t think you’d offend a salesperson if you told them they weren’t creative. They probably don’t identify as such anyways. Maybe that’s because we don’t often think about creativity in the SaaS world outside of marketing, design, or product etc. But in my experience, the best sales reps tend to be the most creative. When do these salespeople use their creativity? Every day and in a lot of situations:

Crafting a solution that works for the prospect

Every prospect is different and in most sales roles you’re limited on what you can provide by the product you sell or an executive team’s strategy. This doesn’t mean a deal is lost when a prospect requests a feature or service you don’t provide. Creative salespeople handle these objections with grace and go out of their way to find the missing integration or a complementary alternative to solve the prospect’s problem (and close the deal). Solution selling comes natural to creative salespeople.

Reinvigorating a deal

When a deal goes stale, it’s a great time to see how a sales rep responds. Salespeople lacking creativity struggle with coming up with ways to get the prospect back on the phone. They may retreat to their manager or send another bland follow up email. The most creative reps naturally strategize great ways to re-ignite a deal.

This could be as simple as a well-crafted voicemail or a timely excuse to revisit the proposal with the lead. I’ve even seen reps go through the phone tree of a company to ask a colleague to pass the phone to a prospect. Whatever it takes to get one more shot, your creative salespeople will figure it out.

Building Rapport

We all know that great rapport with a prospect can be the tipping point to seeing a sale through the finish line. Some reps are great rapport builders and some prospects are easier than others. Creativity when building rapport can be a great way to keep a deal moving through its stages. From sending a thoughtful gift or calling to congratulate a company for a recent success, being able to reach out at the right time and right way can make all the difference.

Finding new prospects

Great prospecting demands a creative approach. When your sales and marketing departments have agreed on what a quality lead looks like, sales reps are more effective at building new lists. A lot of the creativity comes from understanding where the a large number of great prospects are easily found. If you’re selling to athletes and you’re short on leads, mining a Facebook group of cooking fanatics is probably not going to be fruitful. But that’s obvious. The real challenge is after you’ve exhausted all obvious channels. Creativity will help reps dream up where [insert your ideal customers] hang out and what they are interested in. This not an easy task but creative reps will find it easy to dream up another great vertical to keep expanding our prospect list.

These are only a few examples when creative aptitude often sorts in line with the leaderboard. But you’ll also find creative reps are great at assisting product with simple solutions to prospect requests, ideas on how to simplify onboarding or helping marketing define a content strategy that drives the best leads (maybe even writing the content!). These cross-departmental benefits will pay off down the road.

So, are your reps creative? Are the best ones creative? When you’re hiring your next sales class, keep this in mind.

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