Back in high school, my gym teacher would have us run outside every Wednesday – no matter what the weather was like.
One morning in late December, we were out running and it was snowing like crazy. We must have had 4 inches fall in less than an hour.
For some reason, my gym teacher decided it would be fun to finish our run by jogging into the inner courtyard of our high school singing Christmas Carols for all the students still sitting in classrooms.
We belted out Jingle Bells & We Wish you a Merry Christmas – off tune no doubt, but with great enthusiasm and volume. By the time we finished, every classroom had been disrupted. The students inside were all standing at the windows, laughing with (or at) us and cheering us on.
It was silly. But fun. It was hands-down the most memorable gym classes I’ve ever had.
As we jogged back to the locker room, I asked my teacher, “Aren’t you worried you’re going to get in trouble for doing this and interrupting all those classes?”?
He laughed and with a big smile replied, “What are they gonna do – fire me?”
That line has become a mantra of mine as a Sales Manager.
As the leaders of sales teams, one of our primary roles is to drive our reps to excel.
Sometimes this requires us to set high expectations for achievement. Other times we teach our reps how to be accountable. Still other times, we focus on the art of selling.
One of the most important we teach our reps is how to face challenges head on, build confidence, learn to be resilient and even how to act in the face of fear.
To build this level of commitment, we also have to give back to our reps team in creative ways that won’t always be “corporate approved”. Here are some ways I’ve done this:
- My Entire Inside Sales Team was allowed to leave 1 hour early every Friday for a year. This paid for itself time and time again when my reps stayed late to close deals, worked all night at end of quarters, and scrambled to cover big deals that slipped out.
- One quarter, we did a last minute SPIF where we handed out a $100 bills for every $25K sale made in the last 2 days of the quarter. We made up a $2M shortfall to cover a lost deal.
- For years, I ran a clandestine recruiting program. My team targeted entry level employees from other departments who had impressed us. We’d make them unofficial team members by teaching them about sales, having them participate in our weekly meetings, including them in team outings and when the time was right, hiring them. As a result we had the highest retention and best performing reps on the floor.
Not one of these were approved by HR or Senior Management. HR would never have approved this because “everyone needs to be treated exactly the same”. Senior management might have required me to run this “up the chain” for approval or might have even disagreed with my methods.
So instead of asking for approval, I just made things happen. If anyone on my team expressed concern, I’d explain that this was my decision and that I’d take full responsibility for any consequences. Then I’d laugh and say , “What are they gonna do – fire me?”
They never did.
If you are trying to build a great team, then don’t forget to help them bond using challenges and rewards that celebrate why your team is “different”. Stick your neck out a little – you will create memories and bonds that will carry them through the tough times that are sure to come.
If you want some help building your sales team or improving sales, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you.
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