Are your best sales people the most creative? In a recent SalesGlobe survey, 64.3% of people “strongly agree” with the statement “Our best sales people tend to be the most creative.”
It makes sense: creative people are able to come up with individual solutions for their customers, rather than being boxed in by what was done before. But for those of us who are not naturally creative, there are many ways to get the same, innovative solutions.
Last week I wrote about ways to source ideas from generations, and the week before we discussed ways to combine parallel ideas. Another way to generate ideas is to look at potential parallels for each part of our problem.
For example, imagine a software company trying to increase their license renewals. We can boil their problem down to one statement: “How can we develop a customer loyalty program that will increase license renewals?” As shown above, we can break this statement into parts. (I’ve emphasized the important element in capital letters.) “How can WE develop a CUSTOMER LOYALTY program that will INCREASE LICENSE RENEWALS?”
Just by looking at the pieces of the sentence, we can look for parallels that might match just one part of the problem. For example:
“How can WE develop…” Should your company actually develop the program itself or turn elsewhere for help? For the software company, the team might look at how other organizations use business partners, sales channels, or other credible sources to develop or implement programs. Looking for parallels here could lead them to leverage the talents and resources of their software reseller partners, for example.
“… a CUSTOMER…” How do other organizations define their customers? Maybe the sales team shouldn’t try to solve the renewal problem for every customer. Perhaps there are parallels for how other organizations have focused on specific customers, customer segments, or industries.
“… LOYALTY program…” Isolating the loyalty component can create a number of parallels to how organizations create relationships and foster trust to build loyalty.
“… that will INCREASE…” The element of increasing suggests parallels to growing quantities or – just the opposite – decreasing quantities. So in applying parallels we might look for examples of not only increasing loyalty but also decreasing departure. Decreasing departure could generate parallels around disadvantages of leaving a situation, raising switching barriers, or creating more stickiness in the relationship or product.
“… LICENSE RENEWALS…” Focusing on license renewals suggests parallels to categories of agreements in general, and specifically contracts requiring people to stay with someone or something. The team might also look for parallels beyond renewing an agreement for a product to renewing an agreement for other related services that could increase loyalty for the main product. For example, what if the software company found that customers really valued a related professional service they receive from the company, but the most economical way to get that service was to also maintain their software license contract? That would shift the parallel to finding related services that increase retention of core services.
Last week I wrote about five generations of idea sources. Contact me at email@example.com with any questions.