Whatever stage you’re at, growing your business doesn't have to cost the earth. Whether you're coding and designing, blockchaining, bitcoining, catering, travelling or direct-selling traditional goods or services, if you aspire to sell successfully, then look to sell more creatively.

What does creative selling mean?

Rightly or (probably wrongly), these days it seems many of us think of the description 'creative' as a term synonymous with trending, innovative developments, especially technologically advanced ones. The latest obsession with PokemonGo is a great example of this. How do we describe it? 'Innovative', 'inventive', 'accessible', 'fun', 'creative'.

Even art and everyday photography, traditionally associated with 'creative' activities, have 'gone techno', with engaging apps, like Prisma, fast achieving 'must have' status for many of us on our smartphones. 

But being creative at selling doesn’t have to involve the launch of a high profile product or one that is technologically enabled or capable of international, mass-market appeal. 

It doesn’t mean you need to invent a new way of selling or suddenly do something radical that's wholly outside your comfort zone.

It might mean that you 'borrow' a technique used in another industry or another part of the world and apply it for the first time to your own. 

Now that may be very smart. And creative.

I recommend that you take a look at the linked article below '6 creative ways to surprise and delight your customers'. There are some great case studies here, as well as excellent ideas, that can be used or adapted by most of us in our commercially important quest to sell more creatively, smartly and successfully.

What's the best way to get started?

Don't be afraid to challenge the norms

Look outside your box.

Challenge yourself.

Why do you sell the way that you do? Is it because everyone else does it that way?

The last thing you should do when you ask this question is to start looking at what your competition is doing. That’s not a smart starting point and you’re unlikely to find creative inspiration there.

So don’t compare your business to anyone else’s.

Instead, for a moment, forget about the industry or sector that you’re in. 

Think about world-leading businesses, or the entrepreneurial success stories of today, or iconic brands and service providers, and ask yourself what it is about the way they sell that makes them great? What’s made it easy for them? How have they made themselves stand out? Can you learn from their approaches, sales strategies, even their mistakes? Would they work for you?

Never be afraid to challenge the sales approaches of any of your rivals

Just because your rivals aren't currently using a particular sales tactic doesn't automatically mean you should rule it out.

Equally, just because there’s a lot of criticism amongst your competitive set about changing current sales or trading practices, doesn’t mean that opportunity is not lurking within those changes.

At elXtr, we’ve learned this well and as a relative newcomer, we continue to experience this.

Most of what we’ve decided to do has had its fair share of scoffing and scepticism amongst other legal services providers.

Whether that's aimed at our branded product portfolio (from which business consumers can ‘pic ‘n’ mix’ to suit their particular needs), our fixed prices, simply written materials, our DIY law digital hub (that’s accessible like an app, may help remove the need for contact with a lawyer altogether, and is priced at the equivalent of the cost of 1 coffee once a month), or our active collaborations with all manner of other businesses to produce unique business and legal products and services at fully affordable prices, we’re undeniably a very different creature.

And that’s all because we looked outside our own box. We borrowed ideas and took inspiration from those with all manner of different products and services, who do things brilliantly as far as our target audience is concerned.

Know your target consumer intimately

Knowing this audience really well is something we encourage all small businesses and startups to do. Your target consumer group may well be the best business development consultants you can have.

We listened carefully and with an open-mind when our peer group said things couldn’t be done or wouldn’t work, despite our audience’s enthusiasm for those things. 

And we rather stubbornly decided that if that's what they wanted, the answer had to be ‘yes’. That it had to be possible to make what they wanted work...

..even if it meant making less money from each customer.

Even if it meant fundamentally changing the way that things had always been done before.

Avoid disconnection, opportunity-blindness and self-interested decision-making

Incumbent rivals, resting on out-dated assumptions about target consumer behaviour or legacy practices of selling, may have overlooked fundamental behavioural or environmental evolution in consumer activities and expectations. 

They may have become disconnected from the very people to whom they want to sell. 

And they may have formed conclusions about ‘what is right or best’ that reflect a lot more of their own self-interests than those of their target consumers. 

Copying them, is not your solution if you want to stand out and sell smartly to grow your business. 

So start out by being wholly unselfish and envisaging the world exactly as your audience would like it best. (That's the point where they probably won't think twice about choosing you and your proposition over anyone else.) Compare that with your business model and practices today. 

Then, taking into account the research you've done on opportunities and the ideas you've borrowed from other 'best in class' businesses, get as close along that spectrum to the unselfish end as you possibly can, whilst still being capable of running a profitable business. 

Every step that brings you closer to the 'unselfish' end of the spectrum is a nail in the coffin of your competition. 

So give yourself time to scan the horizon, take inspiration and enjoy being creative

Most of all, take the pressure off yourself. 

Being more creative about the way that you sell does not mean you need to invent a new way of selling or suddenly do something radical that's wholly outside your comfort zone. But it might mean that you 'borrow' a technique used in another industry or another part of the world and apply it for the first time to your own. It will almost certainly mean practising being unselfish to help you to devise the right approach to make you the new 'go to' provider in your customers' eyes. 

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