Selling is a creative act

I was in Texas recently to help a client redefine their brand. My agency, Zander Media, was hired to learn about the client and help them distill a new organizing idea.

The team and I had done a lot of preparation, but I was still nervous. We had promised the client a new organizing principle by the end of the day-long workshop!

I facilitated the workshop, we covered most of what we’d planned to discuss, and then – as if by magic – we found a new tagline that perfectly captured the company and brand.

Zander Media had been paid to deliver an outcome, and we did. But describing that day so clinically doesn’t do justice to the magic of that moment.

How to do creative work

As prospective salespeople we don’t generally regard ourselves as artists.

There are a lot of mundane tactics requited to sell. You have to source leads, make cold calls, and get comfortable asking for what you want.

But, at its most elegant selling, is a creative act. To sell your ideas is to channel something bigger than yourself for a cause that is more important than money.

Preparation is essential

The more thought and care that you put into a project, the more likely that project is going to be successful.

I spent a hundred hours conducting interviews and researching my client in advance. Expect to spend ten times as much time preparing as you do executing.

But preparation alone doesn’t equate to creating something from nothing.

The moment of execution

None of the preparation I did for our client would have mattered had we not delivered the workshop.

Place the phone call.
Send that email.
Step out on stage.

Don’t use preparation as a way to avoid the work that needs to be done. The pitch – any moment of execution – matters more.

Have a cause that’s more important

Have a cause greater than your own self-interest.

The cause doesn’t have to be grandiose. The world wasn’t immediately going to be altered through our client finding a new organizing idea.

But by harnessing that purpose, applying all of your preparation, and coordinating the time and effort of others, you may be able to create something bigger than any one person.

Creativity in sales

I’m fascinated by moments of peak performance in sales – when we outperform our own expectations.

And transforming sales from work into a creative habit takes practice.

But with enough preparation, a clear purpose, and an openness to the unexpected, your outcomes can be greater than the sum of those parts.


Today’s homework is to look for creativity in your daily work.

Instead of attempting to make your current sales efforts creative or cultivating an entirely new creative habit, look for creativity within your current habits.

What is something that you do every day that you can turn into a creative practice?

  • Every morning you make coffee → can your coffee preparation be a moment of creativity?
  • You walk your dog → can you choose a different location for the walk each day or be creative in how you walk around a known location?
  • You make dinner for yourself and your spouse → can cooking, however simple, become an act of creativity?

By practicing a creative habit, no matter how small it is or in what domain, you’ll be better at recognizing creativity elsewhere and when it really matters.

Until next week,

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