Every Sales Team Needs a Hands-on Creative Director
Traditionally, each step of the sales process illustrates the value of your product or service and relates it to the consumer in a personal, relevant manner. What is often forgotten is the precious opportunity to reinforce your company’s brand. It is important to capitalize on selling the brand throughout the customer experience, and a creative director is crucial to that goal.
Your sales team works hard, but sometimes the ideas they present can be rough, clunky, and unrefined. They specialize in human relationships after all, and artistic presentations and sales materials worthy of a gallery are not typically their strength. They may be experts at shaking hands, but putting together a comprehensive and effective sales deck requires additional training. Play to the strengths of your sales staff – human relationships – and give them an in-house artist to support them with professional, compelling, brand-representative sales material.
If that was all a creative director could add it would warrant adding one to your team, but a creative director can do so much more. Yes, they can clean up a sales deck and create some nice graphics, but the true value a creative director brings to the table is creativity. With a keen ability to understand both your product or service and your intended customer’s needs or desires, they can bridge the gaps between your customers, your sales team, and marketing team.
The missing element is creative thinking.
Creative directors are trained to be excellent listeners and to think in multiple perspectives, and as such they are incredibly adept at communicating visions and ideas across platforms and through departmental barriers. In short, they are the chameleon of the sales world. They can think globally like your marketing team in respect to brand. They can think specifically about your product or service to deliver a multitude of assets and resources your sales team would be excited to use and which still adhere to marketing standards. Most importantly, they can think like your customer. A creative director will learn your product inside and out and work toward a complete understanding of your customer’s needs and pain points.
Aggregating information from all those sources and developing an almost eerie connection with your ideal customer, a creative director will have everything needed to work their magic. They will identify objectives and approach each one methodically: understand and define the problem or challenge, work collaboratively with the sales team to find a solution, and then articulate the team’s work as creatively as possible to engage the audience – your customer. With a deeper understanding and an unwavering commitment to creative expression, a creative director can help your sales team build rapport with your customers before they even meet.
Creative directors are fabulous storytellers.
A good visual piece communicates 60,000 times faster than copy, and visuals are even more effective when part of a larger story that traverses an entire presentation. We think and dream in images because it is fast and efficient, and the vast majority of people are visual learners. Studies have repeatedly shown that consumers will not take more than a few seconds to read. So why do we still see sales decks chocked full of copy?
Some designers place basic content over a large, underlying image. Others infuse visuals that seem random as if they were directed to “use more visuals in your presentations” without grasping how visuals should be used. Neither technique works. A single visual metaphor of a termite mound or a picture of a race car does not resonate with a customer. It doesn’t show you understand what’s important to them, and often it distracts from the intended message. Instead of following along, they mentally check out of the presentation.
A creative director can speak visually. They understand the challenges related to reaching the customer, and they recognize the brevity of the window of opportunity to connect with the audience. A creative director will take your sales team’s ideas much further and develop a communicative story arch that will resonate with the customer quickly, effectively and meaningfully. In essence, the creative director will help to translate extensive copy into a visual language the customer will readily take in and appreciate. The copy is important, but it is best left to the sales professional as part of an effective sales pitch. The creative director’s visual presentation does not replace salesmanship; it enhances it.
Some of your best customers are your customers.
At face value, cross-selling should be easy for your sales staff given their rapport with your customers. It can be a risky step, however, and you could alienate your customer if you get it wrong. There are new challenges to meet and problems to solve. An approach to cross-selling products or service to your customers should be planned just as carefully as the initial sale. The subsequent sales presentation should be a seamless new chapter to the previously delivered story arch, and it should feel familiar to the customer.
With guidance from a creative director, your sales team can brainstorm to identify the new challenges or problems and find new, innovative ways to communicate the ability to meet the customers’ continued needs. Your sales team will be able to creatively show the value of the additional product or service while complimenting the original sale. Creative directors are typically great presenters themselves, and they can help to fine tune even the most mundane sales pitch into an engaging and interesting presentation. They can even customize a story arch to feel more interactive and personal. A secondary goal of cross-selling is a strengthened relationship between your sales staff and your customer. Your business will grow through referrals.
Creative directors are restless.
Always searching for new ways to reach prospective and existing customers, creative directors will leverage their experience to think beyond PowerPoint. They are trained to communicate in many different ways to connect with your customer. For example, a static hero diagram outlining a unique concept can be turned into an interactive animation and used in a sales iPad app. An amateur video shot by a customer at a conference can be edited into short clips and used to create a unique account-based web page. A creative director looks for as many ways as possible to utilize the assets they create.
There are countless ways to communicate with customers. Here are a few sales assets a creative director could help to build:
C-level door openers
Sales letter packages
Customer case studies – layouts and videos
Unique account-based web portals
Sales teams photos and head shots
There is a communication gap between your sales and marketing departments.
There’s an old notion that sales and marketing departments don’t really get along all that well, and most of the time that’s true. While both are committed to the sale of your product or service, their approaches, focus and values are vastly different.
Marketing departments are trained to promote and protect a company’s brand – its image and reputation in the industry. After all, brand is important. If you saw a red shirt with words written in Coca Cola’s font, you would think of the beverage known to the entire world regardless of what was written. Marketing approaches sales through a global perspective. If you like the company and can see the value, you will buy what it has to sell.
Sales professionals of course recognize the importance of a brand, but their focus is more localized. They are in the business of building relationships, and they know people. Often they know best what your customer really wants, likes, needs, and dislikes. They get personally invested in identifying and solving their customers’ pain points. A good sales person truly wants to enhance their customers’ lives with your product or service. Brand is a secondary concern at best.
Sales and marketing departments are both critical to the success of your company, and a good creative director based in the sales department can be an effective liaison between both teams. A creative director understands the importance of brand and how to use brand recognition to elevate the sales team’s presentations. With a broad view of both localized sales and global brand strategy, the creative director can build sales presentations while protecting the integrity of logos, colors, slogans, and company values. A seasoned creative director is able to slip in and out of various roles, see the entire process from different perspectives, and bring everyone together. Instead of feeling frustrated and misunderstood, your sales staff will have a voice. Your marketing department will better understand your customer through your sales staff’s eyes. A creative director is the glue that holds everyone together, and they do that by asking a lot of questions. And listening. Lots of listening.
How do I care for my new creative director?
An experienced creative director will be accustomed to how marketing organizations operate and will likely hit the ground running. Feed them lots of ideas, and dare to think outside your comfort zone. If they have not worked with a sales team previously, the sales process, unreasonably tight turnarounds, and sales vocabulary might be an adjustment. Be assured, adjusting to new environments and people comes naturally to a creative director. Ask them what resources and budget they need, be prepared to talk about deliverables, and commit to minimum turnaround times to set them up for success. What you will get in return is a team player full of enthusiasm, creativity and ideas to increase your sales and customer loyalty.
Consider adding a creative director to your team in 2017. You will vastly increase the professionalism of your sales and marketing team, and your customers will enjoy a clarified message that they can readily understand. They will feel like you know them, and you’ll see an increase in initial sales volume and customer loyalty. Your new creative director will deliver an organized arsenal of collateral assets born of an inspired, unified team.