The question every sales leader asks me is this: How do I get my sales team to take more action? So many people who sell for a living have a deep-seeded fear of rejection. What if the customer says no? What if they chase us out of their place of business? What if they tell us never to come back again? Because of this fear, salespeople will often avoid calling on prospects and hesitate when asking for a purchase. However, as sales leaders, it's our job to coach our team members through this fear.
One of the greatest ways to help sellers through a fear of rejection is by leading what we call a "Go for No!" contest. I was introduced to this concept by my own sales leader years ago, and have continued to use it with hundreds of sales professionals in the years since. This game is simple: using phones, social media, texts, in-person calls, etc., everyone on the sales team competes to get the most rejections! The only rule? You have to ask the customer to buy and the game ultimately has a deadline.
Now, it may seem counterintuitive to try to get rejected. And, yet, do you know what happens when you're trying to get people to say 'no'?
Some people say YES!
By making it a goal to get rejected – and celebrate when we do! – we create a situation where people can overcome their fear while having fun.
Game-style approaches, like the "Go for No!" contest, can be an incredibly effective tool for coaching your salespeople through fear and hesitation. By understanding why this works, you can regularly create environments that are more engaging, motivating, and rewarding for your team.
We've talked about finite and infinite games on this blog before. In very simple terms, finite games are time-limited with clear rules and infinite games are ongoing with more vague rules. The "Go for No!" contest is an example of a finite game – there's a definite beginning and end, a clear winner, and a set of rules to play by. Because most of us are familiar with this type of game – after all, sports and card games are also finite games, so we know the concept – these are especially easy for leaders to set up. You simply set the rules and walk away.
Why does this work? Well, salespeople are usually fairly competitive by nature. However, when you're working on a 12-month or longer goal cycle, the reward seems far away and the sense of urgency often goes to the wayside. With finite games, we create short-term urgency and rewards that are in sight – and that spurs action.
It's very easy for us to fall into survival mode and the patterns that come with it. We let off the gas pedal, which creates stories like, "What's the point?" or "It doesn't matter anyways." This happens for sellers all the time. Maybe we get a dry spell where customers don't seem like they want to buy or people just aren't picking up the phone when we call. So we stop making the extra visit. We stop making the calls. We stop asking for the sale.
By creating a game approach, however, we create an environment that shakes up those old patterns. If you want to win, you've got to take action! And when we get sellers to take action, they often learn something about themselves or their customers – what we call discovery moments – that shakes them out of survival and shows them what's possible. In the "Go for No!" contest, sellers discover that rejection isn't so bad and you can't get a 'yes' without a lot of 'no's...pattern broken!
If you want to motivate your team using a game, remember: don't overcomplicate it. Don’t drag it out, make the rules easy, and don’t get super caught up in the reward/compensation. If you take the urgency out of the game by making it last too long, make it too complicated to win, or drag your feet because you want the prize to be juuuustttt riiigghhhttt...you're actually missing out on a huge opportunity.
Success in these games should be simple to achieve and available to everyone. Sure, there will be a winner. But, at the end of the day, you want every single seller engaged in the game in a way that creates discovery moments and helps them level up their skills. So don't make it harder than it has to be!
Games and contests can be incredibly powerful tools for helping sellers break out of survival mode and overcome fears. By using a finite approach, you create urgency which leads to action. When you disrupt patterns, sellers realize they're capable of more than they thought possible. And by keeping your games simple, team members are motivated to play (and win!)...learning and growing regardless of where they place at the end of the day.
Want more insight to help you thrive as a sales leader? Check out this free training with Mark Jewell, designed specifically for those leading sales teams!