I’ve been busy lately doing a training course for salespeople called SalesStorming. My course is not rocket science, it’s just applied creativity concepts focused on selling challenges.
I’ve been in front of about 50 sales reps in recent weeks and although they are regularly involved in highly complex sales challenges (the kind that are difficult to win, with long sales cycles, and require a team effort) virtually none of these sales professionals had any idea, really, about how to brainstorm. It was fun to bring them into the new century of creative thinking. In two days we were thinking up breakthrough ideas and learning at the same time. I daresay I created some believers!
Now, to be clear about brainstoming — I’m not talking about poorly organized, un-focused, un-facilitated sessions where people break all the original rules. Rules like deferral of judgment, quantity of ideas, having trained participants, a neutral facilitator, etc. My sales hero’s nearly all had done “break the rules” brainstorming — aka 1949 brainstorming. Just to elaborate, this is where a manager takes a marker to a flip chart or white board and starts listing ideas — while colleagues debate, discuss, critique, argue, analyze and make fun of each others ideas. This is what’s often passing for brainstorming — and not just in sales departments (you could also call it braindribbling or bullshifting). This is what most of them said “doesn’t work” as we started the training.
I’ve been coached recently to write shorter posts, so here’s the point: If you want better ideas for any challenge — for sales, marketing, process improvement, customer service, new products, etc. — stop brainstorming like it’s 1949. Get trained in modern idea generation techniques, practice the skill, and you’ll bring your capability of creative problem solving into the new century. This choice might be the most cost effective thing you do all year, it might even be deemed strategic. What modern techniques? I’ll tell, but not in this post, and a hint, it’s not just Post-It Notes.
If you need help with idea generation, year 2011 style, by all means call me. Or, send me a telegram.