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Unlocking the Creative “Spark and Grind” in Sales

4 min read
June 6, 2017

When talking about creativity, we are often quick to label people as either left brained or right brained; dividing the rationalist and the creatives. When you consider the skill set typically associated with a sales rep, creativity is not usually on the list. Based on how they spend their time, sales professionals are often labeled as left-brainers. But this label isn’t very accurate. By the very definition of creativity (constantly trying new ideas, experimenting, and evolving) sales reps are often the most creative individuals in a company.

They have what author Erik Wahl refers to as “the spark and the grind.”

“This is the first truth you have to understand about creative endeavors: the spark comes to life at the expense of the grind.”

— Erik Wahl, The Spark and the Grind

Creativity requires both the spark of new and exciting ideas, and the grind to test them and bring them into the world. Sales professionals follow this cycle each and every day. It’s where new tactics and new strategies come from. It’s what keeps a sales team successful despite a rapidly changing market or customer base. Sales reps that embrace this creativity fully are often the ones that experience the most success.

So how can you hone these skills even further? In his book, Erik Wahl offers practical advice about how to fan the sparks and make the grind more productive with three key habits.

Immerse Yourself in the Unfamiliar

The first habit Wahl lays out is to immerse yourself in the unfamiliar. Creative insight comes from making new, unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. It stands to reason then, that the more new ideas, concepts, people, and experiences you can expose yourself to, the more connections you have to make. Fortunately for sales reps, you experience a variety of new situations every day.

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Cold calling is a great opportunity to hear new objections, try new ways to counter them, and listen to a new perspective. Every person you speak with or exchange emails with is an opportunity for new insights.

You should also constantly examine what’s working for the other reps on your team and even outside it. Which Salesloft email templates are getting the most response? How did your friend one desk over close that deal yesterday? What about that last cold email you received from outside the company? What made it standout in your inbox? There’s no shortage of new information to immerse yourself in.

Conversing With Yourself and Others

Constructive criticism is crucial to innovation. Ideas need to be tested and improved constantly to get to true innovations that will make you more successful. Be open about the new tactics or ideas you’re trying out and ask for feedback from your friends, your team, or even your prospects. The more you vet your ideas, the better they become.

You can also gain important feedback on your own through A/B testing or analytics, key components of the best sales engagement platforms. A/B testing allows you to test your assumptions and wild ideas in a controlled environment. You can try out different email, cadences, or even voicemails, and allow your analytics platform to tell you if you’re on the right track. The most successful new ideas are bred with creativity, but confirmed with data.

Rehearse Creativity Constantly

The most innovative sales reps commit to developing their creativity each day, in what Wahl calls “a lifestyle of iteration.” Never be satisfied with your approach. Customers are always evolving and your sales process needs to improve along with them. It’s important to note that acting on creativity takes time. Just like getting back to the gym after a hiatus, you need to repeatedly create new sales tactics to become more accustomed to making creative changes. Don’t be discouraged if your spark of an idea fizzles out. That is exactly why you practice the grind.

Sales professionals have the ability to integrate the spark and the grind into day-to-day processes, and you should. Your spark and creativity gives a new life source to your sales that customers will welcome and appreciate. While your left-brained, logical inclinations provide the grind to fully tackle your creative side and continually drive your sales forward.


Want to learn more about effective sales creativity and strategy? Download your free copy of our latest ebook and start landing larger clients, earning more revenue, and enjoying more sales success.

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