7 Ways For Sales Managers To Inspire A Team Culture

by Paul Castain on February 4, 2014

Here are a few simple no cost/low cost ideas to help inspire teamwork, discourage infighting and perhaps inspire a little competition too while we’re at it!

1)    Music: When you go to sports games & concerts that awesome music they play before the event, gets you into “state”. If you worked for me on one of my sales teams, you’d enter the sales wing (first thing in the morning) to the sounds of the most kick ass, “I want to rip bumpers off of cars” music. Sales Managers: Perhaps you could ask your team about the songs that should be included on your team play list?

2)    Acknowledge ALL Wins! Another whacky trademark of a Castain managed team was the emails we’d send out to our sales and sales support team when we scored a sale. I did this for two main reasons: a) to show gratitude (and who doesn’t dig a little public acknowledgment which costs me nothing by the way) b) to inspire competition. I’d usually say something short and sweet such as “Another $20,000 in the house compliments of Carmen . . . rock on with your bad self Carmen!” I never realized how important these emails were to my reps until I got really busy one week and fell behind. Several of them made it a point to remind me that I forgot “the love”.

3)    Cowbell Please! As part of my Acknowledge ALL Wins culture, I bought a bell at a Marine Supply store and instructed my team to ring it once when they made an appt, twice when they made a sale. My reason for this was to create energy and buzz and yes, inspire competition. Oh, and one of the rules for the team was to acknowledge the person who scored the win whether it was with applause, a high 5 etc.

4)    Breaking Bread: Several of my clients have tailgating parties for all employees. The sales team puts on their chef’s hats and does the cooking as a thank you to all the best supporting actors and actresses that make them look like stars. I know of a local insurance company that has “Ice Cream Fridays” during the summer where senior management serves up your favorite flavors. I’ve had team events where we all brought a dish to the office and compared recipes!

5)    I know of a Michigan company that has a monthly “Gung Ho” award. Throughout the month, employees are encouraged to “catch each other doing something right”. When they do, they tell the other person and nominate them for the award. At the end of the month, they pick 2-3 people and present them with a token of appreciation in front of the entire team at the monthly plant meeting.

6)    War Games: Twice a year, I would gather my team together for a full day of training and strategy. I’d have my top reps prepare specific presentations, other reps would educate us on how to sell into various verticals. I’d facilitate discussions created to make my reps think. We’d review our battle plan, turn it upside down and make necessary changes where needed. I’d have guests from other departments make relevant presentations and I made sure that my reps knew I appreciated them.  We’d have some fun too. At the end of the day, I would host a game of Jeopardy and ask questions based on either things they should know about our company, products and even things they should have been paying attention to during the meeting.

7)    Getting To Know You:  Rick Pitino in his book Success Is A Choice  told a story of one of the teams he managed. The team had gotten the proverbial crap beaten out them on the court and returned to the locker room hoping to hear some encouraging words from Coach Pitino. Coach told them that they pretty much deserved to get beaten and that he wasn’t surprised. They looked at him confused (probably pissed) He told them they deserved the loss because they weren’t a team. To illustrate this he asked one of the players something along the lines of “What’s Joe’s wife name?” “Where is Bobby from?” etc. The point was, that its hard to trust and act like a team when you don’t really know your teammates. Note to the cynical: I’m not proposing that we all gather round the campfire and sing Kumbaya nor am I stating that this is the one thing that makes great sales teams great. I am saying that teams that know and trust each other remove the BS, the infighting, backstabbing and other elements of implosion!

So there you have it, 7 easy no cost/low cost ideas to help your team.

What can we add to this list? Please scroll down and share your thoughts in the comments section!

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  • http://rmukeshgupta.com/ Mukesh Gupta

    Very interesting ideas! One idea that i think works well if you already have a great culture and trust is the following:

    Challenge every member of the sales team to find ways to help their colleagues. Every such act that gets acknowledged gets a badge of honor & calls for a small celebration!

    Things as simple as connecting to a prospect, getting a refrence from one of your customers, covering your customers when you go on vacation/training, etc.

    I did write about the culture in sales teams @ http://rmukeshgupta.com/2012/11/28/culture_in_sales_team/

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    Thank you Mukesh

  • Carmen

    I was surprised to see myself so focused on getting a win just to get to ring that bell!!! Awesome environment to be in. You are definitely the master Jedi of sales training in my book always!
    All these things Paul, created such a cooperative and positive environment that during our research or connections, whenever we’d come across some piece of data on a company or person that we knew any of our colleagues were targeting, we’d happily pass that on and in some cases, even help prepare and present with each other. We’d always make time to see each other win.

    It was great fun to hear the bells on the desk go off too whenever each of us got an appointment. War game day was the coolest too. Amazing how much more equipping you fit in for us all in 1 day!

    Thanks forever Paul!

    Carmen

  • Margaret Harmon

    Unexpected gratitude expressed in a different ways can go a long way to help sales teams. A thank you card, yes a real card written saying thanks for being part of the team or a great success. That card will be kept!
    Sending a small gift to the spouse or partners of your reps saying thanks for all they do to support the reps and their hard work. I did this on Ground Hog’s Day since it was a day no one expected anything. Magic!
    Know your reps and things that are important to them. I once had a rep that mushed dogs for fun. I heard that he was participating in a big mushing race and sent him a good luck card and a wool cap.
    He loved it and it was a simple thing to do to acknowledge what was important to him. I had another rep that was worried about her son and his SAT exam. On the day of the exam I called and wished them both luck. Simple, heartfelt and using the old “Golden Rule”. Just a few ideas.

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    Those were some wonderful times Carmen and I think John had the best “bell” of all. Wasn’t it a Japanese gong or something?

    Thank YOU Carmen!

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    All wonderful ideas Margaret and not things that we have to drop a million dollars on to do!

    Thank you for helping us add a few ideas to the list!

  • Carmen

    OMG. LOL.Yes, the Gong. Unforgettable!

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