By Christopher Kogler, an Anecdote partner based in the USA.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a senior sales manager for a big box retail operation on the West Coast of the US and asked her to share a few of her secrets for success with me. Danielle shared the 3 principal keys she uses to inspire her sales team on a daily basis and how these simple actions make a huge difference in her team’s sales performance.
Key 1 – The Daily Huddle
At the beginning and end of each day she gathers her staff together for what they call The Daily Huddle. Huddles have as few as 10 people and as many as 50 depending on the team’s work schedule. But, each employee is required to attend at least once a day. A Huddle lasts no more than thirty minutes and is usually led by the senior sales manager. Once a week, department heads from different areas of the company are invited to lead the Huddle. One week it might be the Director of Training, the next week it might be the Director of Inventory Services.
Each department head speaks to their area of expertise and engages the sales team in a discussion about how both groups can support each other. These weekly “cross pollination” sessions keep the lines of communication open between the different departments and help employees have a deeper understanding of what’s going on throughout the company. Team members also gain an appreciation of how their sales efforts fit into the bigger picture and the importance of their sales efforts in growing the company.
Key 2 – Daily Inspiration through Stories
Huddles are comprised of 80% inspiration and 20% housekeeping. The structure looks like this. Inspiration > Housekeeping > more Inspiration. Sessions always start with an uplifting story. They’re also used to convey housekeeping information from corporate but this is purposely minimized.
“Last week I was really excited to share with my team that the company just completed installing its 30th large roof top solar array and we did this in just 5 years!” “It’s one of those things that corporate doesn’t overtly publicize but everyone feels really proud when they learn about it.”
“Imagine what we’re going to accomplish by the time I’m ready to retire!”
“I started working for this company 10 years ago because I believed then, and still believe today, that I’m not just doing a job, I’m making a positive difference in people’s lives.” “There aren’t too many companies that make their employees feel that way,” Danielle said.
Only positive stories and information are shared in the Huddle. A happy, upbeat and inspired sales team increases customer engagement and customer satisfaction. Team members are encouraged to exceed customers’ expectations and, whenever possible, tailor unique solutions for every customer. Inspirational stories help the sales team to accomplish both.
Key 3 – Keep it Simple, Keep It Real
In a recent Huddle, team members were asked to think of something simple they could do that would make a real difference in customers’ lives. Groups of four to five worked on this for about 5 minutes; one team’s answer was simplicity itself: listen. And the moment they recounted was awesome.
Sebastian, a junior sales associate, recently listened to a customer as she told him how she left her hospital administration job and dropped out of the workforce for 2 years to deal with her daughter’s rare illness. She spent a considerable amount of time fundraising for her daughter’s cause and successfully raised the significant amount of money that was needed to treat her condition. After several years of treatment and her daughter’s disease now under control, Mother wanted to rejoin the workforce but could not find a job in hospital administration or anywhere else. Extremely frustrated and obviously venting, she finally said, “I’m at my wits end!” After attentively listening to her plight, Sebastian simply replied, “Have you ever considered fund raising?”
“It was one of those ah ha! moments,” Sebastian said. “You could see the light bulb going off in her head and she became a different person!” The two of them spent the next 10 minutes brainstorming about all the possibilities she simply hadn’t seen before. During the last 2 years, she had become a very successful fundraiser for her daughter’s cause and with Sebastian’s help suddenly realized she could apply this valuable experience and skill to reentering the workforce.
By simply listening and caring, Sebastian created a customer for life. Often, the most important part we play in a conversation is simply listening. And, it’s good to know that from time to time, by listening to another person’s story, we can make a real difference in their lives.
About Christopher Kogler
Covering the great breadth of the USA, Chris is based on the East Coast and brings his Emmy award winning film and television experience to help leaders find and tell their stories.