The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Business

October 13, 2012

Creativity, innovation boost sales

— In today’s hypercompetitive environment, your organization has to relentlessly pursue innovation. Creativity can lead to new ideas that become competitive advantages.

It’s also no longer enough for sales, public relations and communications to tell your company’s story. Employees throughout the organization need to become de facto members of your integrated marketing team.

How do you create an environment of creativity and innovation?

Ask and answer these three questions:

Who are we trying to reach and influence?

Clearly define and drill down your target markets and communicate to everyone in your organization about these segmented groups. How do they think? What moves them? Why do they say “yes” to your company? What makes them say “no”?

Explain your target markets in detail to your entire organization so everyone knows the specifics.

What are we really selling?

Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market isn’t just selling fish. We can buy fish at thousands of places and barely remember doing so. Pike Place is selling the experience just like Starbucks and Apple.

Today’s marketplace is driven by our experiences. Asking “What are we really selling?” and tailoring your message to that experience can increase sales and enhance your brand.

How can we tweak our offerings to better meet our customers’ needs?

Make gathering customer feedback part of your formal sales process.

Have each salesperson ask clients and prospects how to change and improve the company’s offerings with questions such as “what are the top three things you would change about our company?” or “what’s the one thing we could do to make you happier?”

Coach your sales team on how to ask the questions and track the results. Respond to what customers and prospects say. Be willing to change, innovate and create something new.

Tell customers and prospects what you learned and what you did about it. Then, make the ask and close the business.

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