HUMAN RESOURCES

Stoking Team-Sales Spirit

A growing business keeps the team-sales spirit alive with contests that put nonsalespeople onto the sales floor.
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We hear CEOs say, "Everyone's part of the sales team here." Nothing could be more true for a start-up. But how's a growing business to keep the team-sales spirit alive?

New companies sometimes ring a bell in the sales department so that the whole company hears about a sale. It's the corporate version of the village square. When PCs Compleat began, about two years ago, the founders installed a huge boxing-ring bell they had bought at an auction.

"When the bell rang, you'd see all these people scurrying out, saying, 'Whadda ya got?' " says Kevin Abbott, an early employee and now credit manager at the Marlborough, Mass., company, which resells brand-name PCs through direct-response advertising. Hearing the bell, Abbott says, provided "reassurance that things were happening."

But when PCs Compleat's revenues began climbing (to $10 million in 1992, with $45 million projected for 1993), all the clanging got to be a headache.

Now the bell is saved for special occasions, such as the contests designed to pull nonsalespeople onto the sales floor. During the contests, held once or twice a month, a salesperson who's just gotten an order rings the bell and picks the name of another employee out of a hat. (Everyone but management is eligible.) The lucky person is summoned over the PA system to come down to sales, where a basketball hoop awaits. The salesperson and the coworker decide who will shoot the basket. A swoosh (in three tries) nets each person $10. Tougher shots pay more.

"We've also had a bowling alley, shuffleboard, and Twister," reports sales vice-president Jack Littman-Quinn. Whatever the game, the contest recalls the early days. "You're side by side, and you want to help speed things up," says Abbott. "Everyone has some way to help out sales. It might be greeting a customer. . . . "

PCs Compleat backs up its all-for-one message by letting its 75 employees log on to the sales-tracking system to see how the 26-person sales force is doing daily, weekly, or quarterly. "We believe if people have an awareness of sales and their part in them, the company works better," says Littman-Quinn.

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Score One for the Team
More companies are getting into the team-sales spirit, but not all recognize sales support in its many forms.

Do you reward nonsales employees for their role in sales or in keeping customers happy?

Percentage of respondents who answered...

Yes 54%

Considering doing 22%

No 19%

No answer 5%

Source: Inc. /The Executive Committee poll of 172 small-company CEOs, June 1993.

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Last updated: Jan 1, 1994




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