On Creative Confidence. On sales differentiation. On sticking out in the best possible way.
Creativity is an essential skill in sales. It is probably in the top 3, right up there with empathy and generosity. Do you know a lot of creative, empathetic, giving salespeople? Can you imagine how powerful a combination that would be? Especially when selling ‘commodities’ in hyper-competitive markets?
It is up to the creative sales pro to differentiate themselves from the competition. And quite often, it is the actual salesperson’s behaviors and ways of operating that are the differentiation factors. It isn’t up to marketing. It isn’t up to Ops. It isn’t up to the executives to gift that differentiation to you. It is up to the sales pro to do it. You build it into yourself through the actions you take and through the strategies you execute. Let’s take a closer look at some examples of sales differentiation.
How are you perceived in your market? As a leader? As an expert? As a person of value? As a problem-solver? As someone who wants to enhance the industry? How do people look at you? The fast track and the long game to differentiation is through content creation and consistently publishing it all over the place. This gets you known on all the aforementioned top qualities: a value provider. Someone who’s generous. Someone who cares.
It takes creative confidence to create value over and over and over again for people. It also takes commitment and consistency. You gotta be committed to it. Most people aren’t. Thus, another differentiator. It takes Guts and fortitude to keep showing up, especially when you don’t feel like it. But you gotta hang I there no matter what. See it through and build it.
At the heart of Creative Confidence is intention. Who do you intend to be here? What do you intend for your industry? What creative value will you offer people? What problems will you solve no one else is solving? What do you intend for the next three years? Five years? While thinking ten years down the road, what can you do in six months to get there? What can you get done by July? What incredible thing can you build for all stakeholders? How will you build community around them? For them? How will you bring people together? Bringing people together gives them extraordinary value. Think about creating that value for people in your industry by being the person who brings them all together. The super-connector wins. What can you bring them that no one else can? That’s the sort of high-level thinking you need to attack the problem with.
What can you wrap around your product? Other products? Training? Cheat sheets? Off data sheet stuff? What is it? How do you build the value of your offer so much that they have to say Yes to it? What else can you give them on top of your products and services? Expertise? Coaching? Access to technical services? Access to troubleshooting their problems? Done-for-you services? Industry data they cannot find elsewhere? Access to people they otherwise wouldn’t have access to? What is it? Find it. Build it into your offer. You cannot be generous enough when it comes to your offers.
Nothing will get you more attention and respect like being a valued member of your industry who gives. Be actively involved in your industry. Be on their panels. Take a leadership role. Remove friction of your association. Remove friction in doing business with you. Another ironic point of differentiation is being easy to do business with. It’s astonishing how hard it can be to do business with some companies. Whether terms or contracts are too onerous; whether budgets won’t be there for another five years; whether the Ops folks just cannot execute, it’s amazing that some firms succeed despite themselves. The sales pro that can navigate the internal workings of their complex, internal, organizational actions provides value to the customer. Knowing which levers to pull creates value.
Care is an underrated value in business. You show you care about your customer through your actions. You look out for them. You make sure you get them the best deal. You make sure they are taken care of. You are there for them when things go sideways. You actively listen to them. You empathize with them. You see things from their perspective. You build things together with them.
Care is underrated because most people are in it only for themselves. Esp salespeople. Genuine, giving, customer-first sales pros are rare. Really rare. That’s why they standout so much. Creativity makes them stand out. Care makes them stand out. Best for customer makes them stand out. Look, if you don’t care, you will stick out in the worst way. You don’t have to look far to see what not caring looks like: just go to your local, neighborhood Walmart. Nobody should want to be that each day. There’s zero ambition there. There’s zero differentiation there. All that’s left is low price. The opposite of what we want. The opposite of what we want to be.
Be the connector. Introduce people to one another. Share your network to help people solve their problems. Don’t expect to be able to solve all peoples’ problems. But try to point them in the right direction to the person that can solve their problem. The connected sales pro wins and adds value through her network of experts. The more nodes on the network, the more powerful it becomes. This is why it is so important to focus on giving. If you’re always giving, then people see that and want to be connected to you. Giving builds your reputation and your network. By sharing your contacts with people you trust, you build tremendous value for others. And they remember it, too, years later. They remember that you went out of your way to help them. Being well remembered is likely the best way to gauge your impact and your value for people. What would you like them to say about you when you’re not around?
This is why we come back to the individual person and her actions when it comes to sales differentiation. It is more idiosyncratic, like models of excellence. It is the way you dedicate yourself. It is the way you talk. It is the way you behave. It is the generous, creative actions you regularly take. It is the industry expertise you build up and share. It is the problems you willingly solve. It is the all encompassing discipline and dedication to yourself, to your customer, to your industry and your legacy. When it all comes together, it is magical.