Second Place Is Not Second Best

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Mar 22, 2024 by Sean Luce

I arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece for a market trip on Sunday, Sept. 3. Two days earlier, the Greek National Basketball team had defeated the Americans in the FIBA World Championships in Japan, and needed
to play one more game for the championship. Their plane arrived at the Athens airport at 12:10 a.m. to thousands of fans, and every TV station in Greece carried their arrival and press conference. In the final
game, the Greeks were soundly defeated by Spain. The Greek team took second place, yet the country didn't care; the fans were still proud of their team's performance.

Who was your second-place biller last month? Did you celebrate this person's accomplishment? As managers, it's easy to overlook the people who make it possible for the number one billers to do their job. How about the traffic director and production directors? Have you recognized them lately for sales support, or even for just being an important part of the team? Have you recognized the receptionist? Can you build the
team concept in your sales department even though there is only one top biller each month?

During my visit with the sales staff in Thessaloniki, we combined team building and intellectual sales training during a day of physical activity and intellectual stimulation. The theme for the day was "Mission Possible."

We started the day by playing the Mission: Impossible theme song. Each rep was sent away for 30 minutes to come up with a 4-6 minute speech that described how something once thought impossible proved to be possible. Their peers graded them on:

- How difficult the mission was to overcome;
- Staying within the required time of 4-6 minutes;
- Speech style, use of props, and audience involvement.

We heard some great "Mission Possible" stories. One story involved a rep who was pursuing a business called Party Land. For two years they didn't bite, even though one of the rep's proposals was among the best presentations I've ever seen, complete with PowerPoint, video testimonials, and research. During the
24-month period, the rep knew the prospect liked to gamble at the local casino. He sent the prospect some dice with a note that said, "You don't have to gamble using Star FM." This team is up 60 percent this year local, on top of the 60 percent they were up last year. Most of the stories involved other teammates helping them to achieve their mission. Each rep received a grade, and the top presenter was recognized.
We divided the sales force into two teams. Each team had five members, including the GSM and LSM. It's mandatory that the sales managers participate; they are an integral part of the team. Next was the poster-size crossword  puzzle game. Each team had 10 minutes to answer nine crossword puzzle clues, which were based on their weekly training from the past two months. Each correct answer was worth 20 points.
The result was absolute teamwork. Sometimes a team member who didn't appear to be paying attention surprised the team by answering the tough clues that the top billers didn't get.

We finished the day at the Electra Palace Hotel in the city square. The top floor has a pool, where we did two team events. In the Blindfold Relay, each team of five players selected one coach to guide the other four blindfolded players, one at a time, down and back the length of the pool. It was interesting to watch some of the quieter staff become coaches, crawling out of their shell once outside the station.The purpose of this exercise was two-fold: for each rep to understand that it's much harder being a sales manager/coach than they thought; and that without trusting your coach, and listening and following directions, your team may not reach the finish line.The winning team got 200 points.

The last race was a regular relay, with one person starting off the race and slapping the hand of the other person who entered the pool. The first team to finish garnered 200 points. The overall winning team had their names put on a trophy for their first "Star Challenge" Next year will feature new games and events. Remember to bring a camera!

What's the point? All sales support was involved in the event. They were all winners, and part of a winning team. The games built a tremendous team spirit within the sales department. Second place that day was just as important as first place - and it gave the second-place team something to rally around for next year.
Executing an event like this takes just a little creativity and a desire to do something different for your sales staff. It recognizes those who don't always come in first in billing but are still an integral part of your team. Celebrate the small wins, and you'll see the big wins come quickly.

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