Structure Vs Creativity And Flexibility

Recently I wrote a popular blog that was picked up by a variety of other publications/web site: Sales Management: The Need for Creativity, it covered why sales managers must develop their levels of creativity to solve the multitude of problems they face and the need to assist their salespeople in developing better sales strategies. In the blog I also laid out the 10 actions one can take to improve their personal creativity. In other blogs I have also discussed the need for a variety of formal structured systems that are reviewed and executed on a regular cadence. i.e. Account Plans, Training Schedules and Salesperson Business Planning, etc.

Structure vs creativity/flexibility?

This topic hit me over the weekend. I am reading a terrific book: The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. It is about the first month of WW One, a topic I had no real interest in but the book came highly recommended by a friend and it is a great read! So what does WWI have in common with Sales Leadership?

In the book the author describes how both the German’s and French began planning for WWI in 1870. Both countries had extensive strategies and tactics planned down to minute details; from troop movement, road maps, train schedules and specific plans on day to day operations. These plans were ready to be executed based upon the right spark! Both countries expected the war to last just a few months and both were lead by strong minded generals who were focused on executing “their plans.”

The result? The first month everyone was focused on the wrong objectives or not focused on the right objectives. A war that lasted a very long time that was highly costly to every country in Europe and the USA. Why? In the beginning the generals stuck to their structured plans vs using creativity and not adapting to a change in tactics by either side.

In the world of sales management we are tossed challenges on a daily basis and it is easy to be distracted and it is easy to lack the time or maintain a focus on achieving the planned activities.

As Sales Managers we must have plans and tools for growing our organizations and achieving our goals but we must adapt to our changing environments; we lose a salesperson unexpectedly, a major opportunity starts to slide or marketing fails to achieve its lead generation objectives. All of these or other disruptions could cause a sales manager in a fixed mode to lose the battle!

It is critical we remain flexible and creative in our approach, but having a foundation, systems or structure can help leverage the busy life of a sales manager. Don’t get locked in and but use the necessary tools to maintain direction and focus.

One of the reason our Sales Manager on Tool Kit is popular is the 40+ tools can provide the structure that is needed but because they are in a format where they can be modified or changed by the user to fit the changing environments. Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project.