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Why Creativity and Sales Must Co-Exist

© Krista Stryker 2011
It's no secret that most creative people hate sales.  

In fact, I have little doubt that when given the choice between life in jail or a job as a traditional salesperson, most creatives would choose jail.  At least then (many would say), they could still keep their soul.

But what is it about sales that creative people find so abhorrent?  

Memories of sleazy door-to-door salesmen stick in our minds

I, too, long held onto the idea that selling was a near reprehensible enterprise.  I can't help but think my viewpoint might have been encouraged by the fact that Hollywood has always portrayed salesmen (yes, in movies they are always men) as sleazy bastards trying to sell innocent people something that is either overpriced, will likely break in a day or two, or both.  This pop culture representation of salespeople contributed to my idea that:

Salespeople = sleazeballs 

Which in turn meant that:

Selling = evil

Selling doesn't have to mean selling out 

The problem with this outlook is that it doesn't apply to the majority of salespeople.  Sure, you'll always get a few products here and there sold by disreputable people who want to rip you off or don't care if you suffer as long as you put money in their pockets.

But the truth is that in today's post-recession world (some people might insist we are still in a recession), shoddy products, information and services simply will not last long.  Think about the last defective item you bought.  Or the last crappy restaurant you went to.  Or the last how-to book you purchased that had great, enticing headlines but shallow content.  
Would you spend your money on any of those products or services ever again? 

Of course not.  People are smart, and we don't want shitty things.  So next time a shady salesperson tries to sell them to us, we'll know better not to buy.

On the other hand, think of the last piece of electronic equipment (Apple, anyone?), clothing brand (Nike comes to mind), or retailer (a.k.a. Amazon) that you just loved.  Chances are, if there was someone selling you that product, they didn't have to work very hard to convince you to buy it.  The product itself was so good you may have even found yourself thanking the salesperson for giving you the opportunity to spend your money on their product or service.  

So all it takes is a quality product and the evil salesperson image is shattered.  

The romantic myth of a starving artist 

I can tell what you're thinking. That's great for Apple and Nike, you say, but I still refuse to sell.  I am an artist, after all.

That's pure bullshit.  (Yes! I said it.)

You may be the most talented artist on earth, but if no one knows about you, you might as well not exist.  Your paintings, novels, blog posts, computer programs, logos, etc. may as well not exist either.

You probably have an image in your head about the life of a starving artist as a romantic, strangely enticing way to live until you reach stardom (or die, and then your work becomes famous).  So you sit at home eating nothing but Ramen and waste your days away, or worse, work at a coffee shop or wait tables while not actually doing any of your true work, just hoping that one day you'll run into someone who will discover you and turn your world upside down.

That too is bullshit.  

There are too many people putting themselves out there, too many people in the world in general, for you to be "discovered."  (Let's put it at a .001 percent chance - not impossible, but extremely unlikely.)

The answer?

You have to sell something. 

Yes, you!  You will become a salesperson.  And a damn good one, at that, if you want to compete in this world of other salespeople and artists.

You will sell your products, your brand, yourself - so that the world is aware of your existence.  So that the world can experience what you have to offer, try your products, see your art.

The good news?  If what you're selling is truly valuable, you'll have no problem.  This is not to say that it won't take you a while (the chances of overnight success are probably a great deal less than .001 percent), but if you really are selling something great, the world will be on your side.  And then, just like dedicated Apple addicts do with new Mac products, your customers (or readers, viewers, etc.) will be lining up on your doorstep just hoping that you will allow them to buy your product.

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