In the early days of InsightSquared, we had a specific way of celebrating every single deal the sales team closed. It would start with a slow clap from the sales pit that steadily gained speed as members from other departments trickled into “The Square” to learn the details of the new deal.
Once the whole team was present, the closing rep would tell the story of the deal and then, to officially ring it in, strike our legendary sales gong.
For the first few years of InsightSquared, this was the way deals were celebrated. Gonging became a rite of passage for new reps, and the rest of the company always looked forward to that suspense-building slow clap.
But then things started to change.
A Sales Team Grows Up
Once our sales team got to a certain size, it became impossible to celebrate every single deal this way. We had enough reps closing deals that we couldn’t realistically gather to applaud each one. And we opened a new office across the country, which made it logistically difficult (to say the least) to get everyone together to watch a new deal get gonged.
This put the sales team in a difficult spot. Gonging every deal was out of the question, but stopping deal celebrations all together seemed even less enticing. There’s tons of research out there showing the importance of celebrating victories, so we knew we had to find a way to continue commending new deals without gathering for each one in person.
In other words, we needed a way to scale the gong.
The Importance of Celebrating Wins, Big and Small
Before we get to the solution we arrived at, it’s important to understand why we felt so strongly about celebrating all deals, regardless of their size.
The research is clear: celebrating sales wins drives individual and team performance. This shouldn’t be too surprising to most sales leaders; recognition and incentives have been used for decades as ways to motivate reps and instill a healthy sense of competition among a sales team.
Sales can be a difficult, lonely job, and without positive reinforcement, it can become even harder and lonelier. Historically, monetary rewards, competitions and commissions have been considered the backbone of a sales incentive program, but there has been a shift in the last few years to emphasize recognition and cultural rewards over cold, hard cash.
Not All About the Benjamins
In a recent article in Forbes, CEO Chris Myers explains how he and his company came to this conclusion.
“Money isn’t the sole motivator for many people,” he writes in the news source. “It’s an important part of the equation, but ultimately great employees are motivated by the intangibles. It’s the recognition of a job well done, or a sign of empathy after a long battle that keeps people going.”
Myers decided to celebrate his sales team’s successes with company-wide recognition and outings. Instead of handing a check over to a closer behind closed doors, Myers made a point to call out high-performing reps publicly and take the whole team on celebratory outings.
And he’s not alone. More and more, sales leaders are emphasizing the recognition and applause aspect of the equation over the monetary one. Where a crisp $100 bill or bonus applied directly to a bank account can be easily forgotten, public validation and a sense of teamwork are typically much harder to shake.
Lance McCollough, CEO of the web design firm ProSites, recently talked about this very topic to Inc.
“If your compensation plan is normal, your staffers will just think ‘It’s my job, I’ve got to do this, I hope you get a bigger check,’” he told the outlet.
Instead of simply folding an incentive program into his team’s process, McCollough found creative ways to reward reps who closed deals.
Avoiding the Anti-Climax
What both McCollough and Myers are getting at is a pretty simple sentiment: celebrating sales success ‒ regardless of its size ‒ is essential for maintaining a competitive, ambitious, positive sales culture.
As soon as a sales team stops recognizing its reps for their wins, the desire to keep winning diminishes. This is especially true for growing sales teams. All deals require hard work and diligence, so it is important for sales leaders to acknowledge this effort even when it’s just one of many.
This point was made clear to us at InsightSquared as soon as our sales team started to balloon.
Introducing Champ, Or How InsightSquared Scaled The Gong
At the beginning of this post, I talked about how our growing sales team posed a problem for celebrating every deal. It became unwieldy to gather the whole company for new deals, and this was having a negative effect on new reps who were anxious to have their hard work recognized.
We didn’t want this problem to get out of hand, so we took immediate action. The first thing we did was create a sales leaderboard that displayed the quarter’s top sales reps and announced new deals with theme music of their choice. The leaderboard was a huge hit (and we still love it), but it didn’t do quite enough. If you were out of the office, it was no good, and it didn’t allow sales leaders to instantly send their congratulations to the closing reps.
We knew we had to make something that was just as exciting and festive as the leaderboard, but far more flexible and mobile-friendly.
So we created Champ.
Champ is a completely FREE app for iPhone and Android that instantly alerts you when a new deal comes in. No more checking Salesforce again and again, no more waiting for the closing rep to notify the team ‒ just instant knowledge of a new deal.
This app has helped us recognize reps in a timely fashion, and therefore allowed us to celebrate victories at exactly the right moment. Even toward the ends of quarters (when deals sometimes come in fast and hot), sales leaders and reps can send congratulatory emails at the exact right moment.
Our sales team may be growing, but it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate even the smallest deals.