Would you rather work in an office where everyone gets along, has a laugh and hits their sales targets or a high-pressure sales environment where reps are fighting each other to get leads?
Psychopaths aside, we’re guessing everyone would choose the first option.
So why do so many managers and executives view team building events as a waste of time?
Guys, these kinds of events aren’t counter-productive. Your team can have time-off and still smash their targets. Happy SDRs sell more. Fact. And the better the atmosphere in your salesfloor, the more meetings your team will close.
We should know. EngageTech was voted the 20th best small company to work for in 2020 by The Sunday Times.
Thankfully, we’re not alone.
How your employees interact with each other says a lot about your sales culture, writes David Smith, CMO of SalesScreen. “Do your employees enjoy being around each other? Do they hang out together outside of work? Is their tone positive and upbeat, or do they belittle the management and complain about organisational structure when nobody is around?”
Great sales teams are built on strong rapport, adds Timo Rein, the co-founder and president of Pipedrive. There are few better ways to foster it than fun events arranged during or after office hours. They aren’t just for your benefit, either. Your team will welcome them as a reward for their hard work and see them as an incentive to work even harder in the future.
Looking for new ideas to add to your team building programme? Here are some of our favourite activities.
Non-sales-based competitions and games
We are all for holding daily sales competitions to foster competition and encourage hard work, but when it comes to team building, we think that most team-building events should be held away from the phones.
Luckily there’s no end of team-based games you can arrange with your sales staff. More often than not, these will happen outside of the office, but that doesn’t mean they have to be expensive.
Sure, your team will love it if you splash the cash on a day of paintballing, but an escape room can be an equally good (and much more cost-effective) experience. Both activities depend on teamwork for success and are much more fun than a daily sales call contest.
Escape rooms are a particularly appropriate team-building exercise for salespeople, says Badger Maps’ Elena Granat:
“Both sales and escape rooms are all about finding the right tools and practices in the least amount of time. A sales team must successfully plan ahead and manage a practical sales pipeline. Similarly, a timed escape room forces the players to find answers and figure out the right solutions while also practicing time management. Additionally, managers can spot sales team members’ otherwise hidden skills through an escape room, such as leadership skills.”
You don’t have to leave the office to experience a dose of team-based competition, though. We’ve found in-office quizzes to be really effective, particularly during lockdown when we haven’t been able to meet up in person.
“Most people – especially sales teams – are competitive by nature,” says David Jacobsen, CEO of TrivWorks.
“By harnessing this with a trivia contest, you can create an environment which is not only fun and social, but charged with spirited energy as colleagues at all levels try their best to win. I am consistently told that the impact of such an experience is boosted morale and increased trust.”
A company trip
Trips abroad are hands-down one of the best team building events we do. Sure, we run the trip as a sales incentive to boost numbers, but the team bonding experience is often way more impactful than the temporary increase in sales.
Trips abroad are especially effective for SDR teams where the majority of reps are fresh out of uni. Most of our reps have only been abroad without their parents a couple of times in their life, and few can afford to splash out on expensive trips on their own.
That means these trips aren’t just a great way to foster strong friendships between your employees, but they are also a great way to create a bond between individual employees and the company. Employees will stick by a company that treats them well and gives them access to experiences they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.
“Most people – especially sales teams – are competitive by nature.”
Out-of-office bonding experiences
Team building events don’t have to be competitive. A social event, like a dining experience, can be just as effective at building rapport and strengthening office morale.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you adding a competitive element if you wish, Many sales teams run Lunch Clubs for their top performers. Exclusive team building events can push reps to work harder as well as providing a bonding experience, writes Bizzabo’s Maria Waida.
Volunteering is another out-of-office team building event that comes with an additional benefit.
“Giving time to support a good cause isn’t just good for the soul; it’s also a great way for your team members to bond,” explains Hubspot’s Lindsay Kolowich.
So is playing sport. We regularly enter an office team into a local 5-a-side league. It’s a great way to socialise together outside of work, introduce new hires to the team and exercise our competitive instincts.
Shared learning events
Personal and professional growth is crucial for a successful career in sales. We are all eager to learn about the most effective call scripts and the latest prospecting techniques, so why not learn about them together?
“There’s a reason why sales conferences are so well attended and used to build successful teams,” says John Greene: “they work.” That’s because you kill several birds with one stone at conferences. Your team is exposed to the latest strategies, everyone is kept on the same page and conferences provide the chance to socialise outside of the office.
You don’t have to take your entire sales team to an expensive conference to get the benefits of learning-based team building. A TED talk can be incredibly motivational, for instance. Watching a sales webinar can inject a boost of morale and ambition into your sales team, writes Josh Slone on the LeadFuze blog. You can spend time after discussing how to implement the techniques discussed into your workflow.
Alternatively, Steve Bookbinder, CEO of DM Training, recommends lunch and learns. “This is like an adult version of “show and tell,” he explains. “Each person is responsible for bringing a new, interesting, or useful piece of information to the meeting.”
Daily sales meetings
The problem with many team-building activities is that they are a one-time event, says entrepreneur Brian Scudamore. “The challenge is creating opportunities for people to connect and interact in meaningful ways, outside of regular meetings or presentations.”
One way Brian overcomes this by using daily huddle meetings as a way to share goals and celebrate achievements together. These don’t have to be sales-based goals, either, he adds. From learning a new language to finishing a challenging book, all kinds of goals should be shared and celebrated to boost morale.
The truth is that whatever team-building events you use, you should do them consistently. Doing so will help you maintain the efforts of each activity while giving your team something to look forward to every month or quarter, writes Keap’s Laura Dolan.
“If employees feel their connections between one another start to dwindle, they may still feel like strangers to one another when it comes time to collaborate.“
Other ways we build trust and motivate employees
Team building shouldn’t be viewed as a one-off event. We make an effort to create a warm, friendly and fun environment every single day. Employees have told us that one of our biggest strengths as a company is the way we go out of our way to celebrate individual achievement, no matter how small.
We make a point of highlighting great performance every day. Our Slack channel is full of shoutouts to team members and praise from everyone in the company. We even have a sales gong so that everyone knows when a rep has smashed a personal best.
We also high five. A lot. Why? Because it’s fun, it gets you pumped and research shows that it’s one of the best ways to build trust and improve performance in a team environment.
As you can see, team building activities don’t have to be extravagant. Nothing is stopping you from implementing several of these tactics right now to boost morale.