Sales managers: How to make your team spark!

I guess you want your sales people to feel energized, take initiatives and be proactive with customers.

What does it take to achieve that, besides a competitive benefit package?

To investigate this I talked to more than 20 leaders in a very demanding business – attracting the visitors of Burning Man who were choosing activities from the 1000 camp strong festival. All the camps had activities to offer and a camp team on shift to service the visitors. How did the camp leader keep the camps energy up, how did the camp leader manage to get his/her team to actually show up and deliver? And what made some camps stand-out and sparkl?

For the readers who dont know Burning Man* yet – it is a yearly creative festival where 80.000 people build a city that lasts for a week. There are no money, no police, olny 10 principles to guide the visitor through the festival. All the camps offer several activities to entertain, amuse and tease the visitors. So competition is high, its tough to get the attention of the crowd.

Here is what I found that the leaders of the best run camps did – camps that sparkled, that visitors were attracted to and the camp members were enthusiastic:

–         ”Show up, be nice and take care of you stuff” a common code of conduct

–         ”A family tree”, learn who are who in the camp

–         ”Take the shitty shift”, a leader who did what needed to be done and led by example

But to make the team members sparkl it took more than that. The camps that attracted most visitors, had most fun and engaged the camp crew shared something else, an insight I call ”instant reward”. These camps offered something simple: a service, a drink, a coffée or just a place to rest. The visitors showed gratitude and thankfulness. This created an instant reward to the camp members that was on duty – inspiring to be even more of help and work harder. The camp members ment something – the feeling of importance was there.

How important to feel wanted, important and appreciated!

In professional sales the need for sparkl is high. You have to stand out from competition, inspire the customers and your internal staf aswell. In order to keep energy up you must feel successful. But if sales cycles are long and competition is high this can be a tough challenge, many sales people I know suffer from low self esteem and their mood goes up and down with their success in selling.

How can you as a sales manager see to that your sales team keep their energy up, despite the ups and downs of the sales?

That is for you to find out – my take on it is to inspire your team to use social media, Linkedin, to publish posts and articles, organise seminares where they can speak and create other activities where they can shine and get the appriciation they need to keep up the tough work of Selling. You as a manager must provide occations where your sellers can sparkl – that energy boost are what it takes to give the customer that extra call, write a sponsor letter, finetune a draft proposal or what ever is needed to close the sale.

The leaders at Burning Man had learned that priciples, comittment and responsabilities are not enough to keep the sparkl alive – but “instant reward” from servicing other people is.


Jens Edgren, CEO Salesmakeover +46 707998800

Salesmakeover is a certified Solution Selling sales training company that provides tailored training programs. Jens has been to Burning Man festival several times. Author of Co-creative selling and ”The art of prospecting”.

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