*Editors Note: Guest post by Steve McKenzie, VP of Sales at InsightSquared.
If you were around the InsightSquared office last Monday, you would have seen capes and masks and lots of Spandex. Halloween wasn’t for another week – what was going on?
Welcome to the InsightSquared Superhero Call Blitz, an initiative designed to give the team – and the sales pipeline – a shot in the arm. For one full day, each member of the sales team – from the VP of Sales and the Sales Director to the Business Development Reps – got on the phones and dialed, dialed and dialed some more. I even joined in for part of the day, though a few people didn’t believe the CEO was calling them. The results?
3X more meetings booked than our typical day.
With numbers like these, maybe more CEOs should ditch the suit in favor of a Captain America bodysuit, rippling muscles included.
The Method Behind the Madness
The team didn’t just decide to dress up as Robin and The Punisher, and then book more meetings. No, this was a concerted plan that started with the leadership team, and was then executed by the team through sheer dint of human effort.
“This was designed to give our team and pipeline a shot in the arm,” said Steve McKenzie, InsightSquared’s VP of Sales. “We wanted to take what we normally do but flip it on it’s head. The day was designed to be a high-octane, high-energy day where everybody’s attention and focus are all heightened. I think it worked very well.”
The day started with a team breakfast, followed by an impassioned motivational speech from McKenzie, aka Mr. Incredible. After that, as soon as the clock struck 8:00 am, the entire team – including Steve and I – got on the phones. The costumes continued to play an integral role as well; reps who mentioned they were dressed as Batgirl or Black Widow found great success and made their prospects laugh with their icebreakers.
“It was important that everyone dresses up and we all feel a little silly,” said McKenzie. “We chose superheroes because we knew the team would deliver a superhuman effort, and we wanted that reflected in reality. When you’re all wearing a cape or a muscle-bound suit, you feel silly, but also a little more confident.”
While the results and sales metrics were great, Steve also found the whole experience of living in his reps’ shoes for a day to be invaluable. It’s very easy for a Sales VP or a sales manager to direct reps to make a certain number of calls and activities each day; it’s much harder to maintain the discipline to execute that on a day-to-day basis.
McKenzie found himself taking more time to prepare for calls than his reps typically would. Working at his pace, the reps would never be able to hit their daily activities quota. This led to Steve questioning the merits of measuring reps on the activity-based KPIs.
“It’s easy to dial; it’s much harder to talk,” said McKenzie. “I’m more interested in the quality of conversations than a rep who makes 150 calls but has maybe only 1 or 2 decent conversations.”
Is this sustainable?
Unfortunately, probably not. As great as the one-off results were for this Superhero Call Blitz, we were well aware of the unsustainable nature of this exercise. For starters, the reps would likely keel over in exhaustion – making 177% of your daily calls is no small feat, and not easily repeated.
Additionally, normal activities were held off in favor of just calling as many names as possible. Instead of taking high-quality inbound leads from marketing, reps had to set up their own lists, drawing from long-dormant names, closed-lost leads or just cold calling new names altogether. Typical sales processes – like email check-in and scheduled call-backs – were eschewed. The sales managers had to make sure there was a clean plan for following-up on the successful connections from the Call Blitz, with the standard process having been thrown to the wind on this day.
There’s also the matter of getting buy-in from the entire team, especially mid- and senior management members. Marketing chipped in to organize breakfast, set up decorations and judge the costume contest. The Sales Director – who hadn’t prospected in years – contributed 5 meetings booked on his own. Without planning and full buy-in from all participants, the day would not flow properly and would not be very effective.
Despite the aforementioned unsustainable elements of the initiative, the Superhero Call Blitz was nevertheless an immense one-off success. Morale was improved, the energy in the sales pit was positively buzzing, the sales reps enjoyed the experience of their managers getting in the trenches with them, and of course, the team booked 3x the number of meetings they typically did.
All in a day’s work for Superman and his friends.