Sales atmosphere is a tricky thing. In order for your team to be productive you need the right combination of pressure vs fun, fear vs safety, self motivation vs teamwork. Balancing the atmosphere can be a full time job, but if you pay attention every day you can stay on top of it before it gets lopsided and toxic.
Pressure vs Fun - Too much pressure creates “The Boiler Room”, too much fun creates an early 90’s dot com company. Both are bad for business and unsustainable so it’s important to find the happy medium. I have to look, listen, and feel the tempo of what’s happening on the floor. If the atmosphere gets too tense I’ll go out and bring up some random sports news that get people to stop thinking about their problems and allows them to relax for a few minutes while discussing things like “Is Richard Sherman really a thug or not.” If the atmosphere gets too lax and everyone is having fun but practically nothing is being accomplished, then I need to go out and redirect everyone’s attention to the numbers. This usually sounds like a SONA (State of the nation address) but it jolts people out of dreamland and focuses them back on winning. Usually I will accompany this by finding additional cold call leads for each of the reps and adding it to their call list. If they can’t find any work to do, I will find it for them and once they know this they usually figure out how to stay productive.
Fear vs Safety - Personally I like my office to feel like a family atmosphere but that can backfire at times. Managers will tend to either make their employees feel too safe or too fearful and I’m definitely on the safe side. This can be good and bad; good because people like coming to work and enjoy the atmosphere which in turn creates camaraderie and loyalty, and bad because they can tend to get lazy, not hit their sales numbers and feel like it’s okay because their job is safe. To stop this from happening, it’s important to have regular meetings with your reps to go over their numbers along with plans to get them moving if they are behind. If for some reason their numbers stay down you need to nip it in the bud quickly by putting them on probation. Don’t let bad habits sink in or you will end up losing a good employee in the end.
Self motivation vs Teamwork - Every sales rep needs to be self motivated (this is a must). At the same time if you want to have a great team, the reps need to have some selflessness and be able to help the team. A good sales rep many times will hit their number a week or two before the end of the month and this is great but it also makes them tempted to sandbag deals to get the next month started off hot. I put individual numbers up on the board but I stress what the team goal is often to try and prevent this. In order to hit your team goals each month all the reps need to put that extra effort into helping the team and not just worry about themselves. A sure sign you have a sandbagger is that he/she always has a slow last week of the month followed by a bunch of sales turned in the first couple of days of the next month. This is a person you need to talk to about being a team player before it becomes a problem. You want every rep giving 100% each month, when they don’t, other reps see this and it becomes a cancer that has to be cut out.
Atmosphere is not hard to regulate as long as you stay on top of it each day. If you as the manager let this go too long, you will suffer one way or another, which usually means losing sales reps and costing you money to hire and re-train. To effectively run a company and keep your bottom line, it is important to avoid unnecessary expense and turnover. Take these tips to the bank and enjoy a prosperous year.
By: Todd Marinshaw. Todd owns and operates a sportswear business based in Orlando, FL and recently founded iPrevail, a non profit organization focused on relief and rehabilitation for victims of disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan.