Creativity is perhaps one of the most underrated skills that can help outbound sales reps transform into top performers. Creative sales reps are able to think on their feet in the face of rapidly shifting circumstances, impress clients with their dedication to innovative problem solving, and brainstorm new ways to add value to the client-salesperson relationship.

While some sales reps might think they weren’t born with exceptional creativity, and therefore they’ll never achieve it, the reality is certain aspects of creative thinking can be learned and nurtured.

Prospects want to be surprised

Consider, for a moment, the average week for a typical B2B lead who is being contacted by outbound prospectors. Think about how many similar sounding sales pitches they encounter, how many features they are informed of, and how much time and money they are told they can save just by giving these products a chance.

Now think about what said prospect would potentially value. Obviously, they are looking for a product or service that will solve their problems, but imagine how far a little variation in storytelling or pitch structure could go to generate excitement for them. B2B buyers may not want to be surprised when it comes to things such as contract terms, but salespeople who can creatively engage with them and surprise them even in the most transactional circumstances have the potential to add a lot of value early in the sales process.

Clients know they can count on creative salespeople to help them solve their problems

It’s rare for a client to feel their pain point is easy to resolve; otherwise they’d be able to take care of it themselves and save their company some money. B2B buyers perceive their problems as multi-faceted and complex, and they understand the responsibility they hold as a key decision maker charged with alleviating this issue for their organization.

Therefore, they are naturally going to gravitate towards sales reps they perceive as being creative thinkers — thinkers who won’t give up at the first sign of complications, and who will prove to be a dedicated and long-term partner. B2B buyers are essentially problem solvers, and they’re looking for someone whom they can share that burden with. That’s why it’s crucial for salespeople to be able to demonstrate they have the capacity for ingenuity and imagination when it comes to the client’s specific pain points.

Outside-the-box solutions are a path around roadblocks

Every sales rep has to have a practiced strategy for getting around roadblocks and objections during the sales process, because these are things everyone in this profession will have to deal with time and time again. What’s important to remember is prospects aren’t saying they don’t want to buy your product when they raise objections; if that was the case, they’d simply cut off the conversation. They are indicating they expect you to consider their situation from a different perspective.

When prospects raise an objection, they don’t want to hear a canned response that suggests their feelings are invalid. Sales reps who work through the objection with them logically and brainstorm innovative solutions and compromises can prove themselves to be valued collaborators.

Build role playing and improvisational exercises into your training

Now, what can you do if you have salespeople on your staff who have underdeveloped traits that are linked to creativity? Thankfully, there are ways to nurture creative processes in individuals. While genetics play some role in a person’s creative ability, research by geneticists indicates they only account for 10% of differences in levels of creative output.

Activities such as role playing (whether through specific sales scenarios or otherwise) and improvisational exercises can help your salespeople hone their creative abilities. Training in mindfulness and meditation can also be helpful, as approximately 600 studies have shown these exercises to enhance creativity.

Encourage your sales reps to engage in professional development courses that bolster creative thinking

Additionally, there are numerous opportunities to build creative prowess through professional development. If you work for a larger organization you may already have access to supplemental courses and other materials that encourage creativity. Otherwise, you can talk to the relevant people in your organization about investigating third-party options. You may also want to consider providing incentives for your sales reps to complete specific training modules that are aimed at fostering creative thinking.

Seek out courses that ask users to look for new sources of knowledge, approach familiar problems in novel ways, or embrace a challenge outside of their comfort zone. These types of activities have been shown to develop creative impulses, and can significantly impact a salesperson’s instincts over a period of time.