When it comes to sales, all days of the week are not created equal. The burst of of energy from Monday often has dissipated completely by Friday, making it essential for sales team leaders to find ways to keep staff motivated and numbers up the entire week. This was a challenge that the leadership of sales firm AG Salesworks faced—and through a handful of creative incentive strategies, overcame.
Based in Norwood, MA, AG Salesworks offers marketing services and sales prospecting to technology, media, and financial services companies. They do the heavy lifting in finding qualified sales leads for their clients and then pass the leads to their clients to close the sales.
“It’s that thankless job that nobody wants to do,” says Peter Gracey, COO and co-founder of AG Salesworks.
But while it is not an easy job, Gracey and his business partner and the current CEO of AG Salesworks, Paul Alves, aimed to create a productive but also fun and supportive workplace when they founded the company in 2002.
“We wanted to work with people we liked, but wanted high-character individuals who have the drive to be successful in business and have genuine concern for the well-being of others,” says Gracey.
While he felt satisfied that this had been accomplished, as the leadership team tracked the success rates of their sales reps—specifically the contacts with potential leads, meaningful conversations, and number of quality lead opportunities those result in—they began noticing a trend. While Mondays and Tuesdays typically boasted the best numbers of the week and Wednesdays were strong, Thursdays generally saw a drop off in performances, and by Friday most of the reps seemed to have run out of steam.
While this could be chalked up to the natural ebb and flow of a salesperson’s energy during the week, Gracey decided a boost of motivation on Thursday could lead to ending the week with a bang.
Instead of just asking the team to try harder, Gracey introduced “Call Blitz Thursdays.” Each member of the sales team was asked to not just meet their daily numbers, but to exceed them by an additional 10 percent. Those who reached their goal by 4:30 that afternoon joined the rest of the team for drinks on the company’s dime.
“It’s not rocket science,” says Gracey. “But assigning added importance to that day has made a major impact—the lion’s share of people now reach their goal, and we have a flat line of extremely high-level performance throughout the week.”
To keep the end-of-week surge going, AG Salesworks also began holding weekly contests each Friday at 11:30 in the morning. The top three performers for the week participate in some kind of fast and fun game, whether a beanbag toss or round of Hungry Hungry Hippos. The winner gets a prize such as a paid day off, or gift card from Giftcertificates.com, Bass Pro Shop, or American Express.
“It’s fun to watch and they bring a whole new level of energy to the game,” says Gracey. “Before the senior reps were complaining that every week the same person won, so this creates both competition and entertainment.”
One recent month, the competitions were tied to the theme "Around the World in 30 Days.” Each week the winner was awarded a prize based on the country chosen for that week, such as a Thai restaurant gift certificate, or a Swedish massage treatment.
The end-of-week rallies have paid off. Despite the economic challenges of the past several years, since the 2008 financial crisis, the company has tripled its client roster and since the first quarter of 2011, it has had to double its number of employees in order to meet demand.
Beyond the company’s strong sales performance, Gracey prides himself on AG Salesworks’ unusually high retention rates. A full 25 percent of the firm’s current employees have been with the company for five or more years, far above the standard of an industry known for burning out and turning over its staff quickly.
Gracey believes the company’s real motivational weapon is the culture he and the leadership team have worked to cultivate from the earliest days.
“That’s the key to keeping people motivated: surround them with individuals who care whether or not they succeed,” says Gracey. “Everyone gets excited when someone succeeds here—we avoid bitterness through healthy competition.”