A fun and exciting sales floor is all part of a healthy sales culture - not only does it keep things interesting, but it also generally leads to a more profitable and positive outcome for the employees, customers and company as a whole.
Why's it important?
When the whole sales floor takes a positive attitude on board, wonderful things can happen; radiating positivity creates an exhilarating atmosphere which builds momentum.
It's not always about having a few beers in the fridge, doughnuts and Messina on a weekly rotation - or having a pingpong table for that matter. Whilst these are awesome additions to an office to help blow off steam and take a break, it takes much more than that to build a healthy sales culture.
At OpenAgent, we aim to create lasting impressions on the sales side of things - not only for our customers but for our team.
We've got some awesome advice from our superstar sales team leaders Dane Cowley and Laura Clarke. In this article, they'll share their secrets on how they keep the sales floor running at optimum performance.
Both Cowley and Clarke take uniquely personalised approaches to keep their teams motivated, turning losses into opportunities, and celebrating both the small and big victories with their individual taste.
Let’s see what these superstars have to say...
Where it all begins…
Onboarding is the first taste given out to new hires. It's a taster of what it's like working inside the office.
The onboarding process can last anywhere between five to eight weeks - beginning with a one-week intensive then followed by ongoing learning and development.
Our Experiments Team Lead, Cowley states from his own personal experience, "you can really uncover how an individual learns just by sitting down and getting to know them. Then soon you can figure out the best way to tailor their onboarding experience for their style of learning."
Onboarding at OpenAgent is always personalised and collaborative!
Onboarding at OpenAgent is always personalised and collaborative, because from our perspective, working together to make the learning experience very personal to an individual tends to be more effective.
Cowley and Clarke agree that "setting the standards in place from the beginning is always best, and taking the time to really understand an individual's personal goals early on helps to align them with business goals. By taking this approach you can't really lose, you only gain".
Clarke states that "the first eight weeks, whilst intensive, is flexible. And more often than not, new inductees will quickly find themselves in a normal routine, falling into the regular rhythm of things, post-training.”
It's really important for new team members to get the most training and development so they are on the equal playing field with others.
Connecting with your team
Business-wide, all departments at OpenAgent see one-on-ones as an awesome way to set the right tone and standards in order for people to succeed.
Within sales, Clarke outlines a number of approaches that all work for her, "one-on-ones, or in sales-speak, regular calibrations, which are sales focused sessions and intensives. They are just some of the ways we engage with our team on an individual level. It's also pretty flexible as you tend to get the same outcome in the end, but it's what works well for the individual."
Clarke continues, "once our newer consultants jump on the phones, we take some time out to do calibrations almost every day to monitor how they're going and what could have been done differently.”
Wondering what a calibration session involves?
It's a session that involves sitting down with your team leader and listening back to a phone call you did together. You work on breaking down the interaction and outline methods to improve future phone calls.
It's essentially a way to monitor the quality of a conversation from a customer service point of view, and a way to evaluate the consultant's performance and progress.
In a team, Cowley highlights, "if we’re onboarding more than one person at a time, we work together in group meetings to listen to each other's calls and understand their individual conversational and customer service styles."
“We also aim to combat bad habits that appear early on in initial conversations by identifying them quickly and putting a stop to them. This is why those call calibrations are so important.” Cowley has a lot to say about emotional intelligence for sales success - read more here.
Keeping the team motivated
People lose motivation when things don't go according to plan - whether a sale falls through or they experience a difficult interaction, Clarke suggests that the best way to combat this is to "change the perception of failure to turn everything into a learning experience. If you can learn from it, then suddenly it’s not so negative after all."
Clarke also notes, "If we can see what they can improve on, and what could be done better next time, then it’s our role to provide constructive feedback to strengthen every individual in our team to be the best they can be."
Sales and outbound calling is a challenging job - you definitely need to have some thick skin to be in this game. However, right now, sales roles are one of the hottest jobs in the startup industry.
Cowley says that it’s "important to build solid relationships with our team to help them feel comfortable enough to share their struggles. At the end of the day, a difficult interaction isn't the end of the world, it's just important to learn and grow from it."
“It's important to build solid relationships with our team to help them feel comfortable enough to share their struggles. At the end of the day, a difficult interaction isn't the end of the world, it's just important to learn and grow from it.”
"When we interact with our team, It's always about coming from a place of compassion and understanding any issues they might have with a solution-focused mindset."
Clarke explains that there are a lot of incentives that create friendly competition amongst the consultants on the floor. "From holiday plane tickets, bottles of vodka and different raffles, we always like to change it up and keep it interesting." It keeps the team driven to win.
"Whether the victories are big or small, they should be celebrated and made known."
It's as simple as ringing the bell to let the floor know that you've just secured a win, or a company-wide announcement for someone reaching a specific milestone.
Clarke's favourite thing to do is to pull someone aside and congratulate them individually for their efforts. "People want to feel like they are doing a good job, so don’t hold back - let them know their hard efforts are rewarded."
On a uniquely personal level, Cowley loves taking his team out for lunch and dinner to celebrate victories. Not only is this important for celebrating wins, but it also builds a strong team bond outside of a workplace setting.
Whilst there is always something going on at OpenAgent, our team leaders always take the time to create individual approaches with everyone.
Want to know what success looks like? Read more about what personality thrives in a startup.
Here's what happens on a daily basis
Clarke states that "our sales team starts the morning with a huddle, where we all stand around in a circle and set the focus for the day and announce individuals who have hit targets. Huddles give us the opportunity for some face-to-face time before the real work of getting on the phones begin.”
"It helps to get an idea of where people's heads are at and understand any concerns they may have. The idea is to be aware of any roadblocks early in the day so that their progress isn't impeded."
Clarke says that team leaders also encourage live coaching and encouragement. "If we catch someone on the phone lines doing an amazing job, we silently egg them on to keep the momentum going."
At OpenAgent we've started using a brand new recognition program that aligns with our four internal company values. When the team sees someone doing a good job, they're encouraged to give a shout-out to their peers, managers or direct reports.
The shout-outs are often about how an individual has gone above and beyond, or even about how their unique personality improves the workplace, and every shout-out is always closely aligned with the values that our company culture really embraces and adheres to.
Setting the tone
As you can already tell, leaders and managers play an integral part in their teams' success.
Building up a positive presence on the sales floor is really about keeping things exciting and motivating, but most importantly it's about the interpersonal relationships that you create and nurture as a team leader.
If you truly want to see long term positive growth in your sales team, you can't ignore these relationships.
At OpenAgent, our team leaders are important for setting the tone in the workplace and building a positive and inclusive culture that empowers individuals to succeed. Without a motivational and exciting environment, quite simply, our sales team can’t thrive.