Freddie Marryat, Marketing Manager, EngageIQ

04 May 2020

Here at EngageIQ, our sales culture is incredibly important to us. It’s helped us generate thousands of appointments for our clients, and it’s one of the reasons we are a Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For. 

A lot of our culture is centered around the office. We work there together, celebrate together and leave it together to go to the pub. Recreating that environment at home hasn’t been easy. But thanks to the efforts of our SDRs, sales managers and the rest of the team, we’ve been able to make it work.

Here’s how we’ve kept our culture when working from home and how you can, too.

Continue to Collaborate

Collaboration is the glue that holds our company together. We may work as individuals, but we’re all working towards the same goal. We are all in it together. 

Obviously, it doesn’t feel that way when we are all stuck in our separate homes. That’s why we’ve been going to great lengths to connect regularly with each other via video. Daily standups are an essential part of this. SDRs and sales managers will hop on a call to discuss their day, share their goals and work through any challenges their facing.

These regular check-ins weren’t enough for our SDRs, however, so they went ahead and set up Zoom calls to prospect together. It’s not quite the same buzz as the office, but it certainly seems to help. 

All these collaborations must happen via video. It’s not enough to hear someone’s voice; you need to see them to recreate that in-person connection. On a recent webinar we hosted, Kevin Kelly, founder of Pace Digital Sales, said he’d banned phone calls between his team for this reason. It’s a strategy we recommend you follow, too. 

Spencer Waldron, director of global communications at Prezi, takes things further. When people can’t join meetings in person, they must turn on their audio and video. People aren’t just focused; they are more engaged as a result. “Video calls are more engaging due to the lack of visual cues in audio-conferencing,” he said.

Video calls are more engaging due to the lack of visual cues in audio-conferencing.

Keep the Competative Spirit

Salespeople thrive on competition. When they aren’t in competition with themselves, they compete with each other — even if they aren’t working on the same accounts. You’ll never be able to recreate the banter you have with the person next to you when working remotely. Still, we’ve been experimenting with several strategies to boost our competitive spirit. 

Trivia games like Countdown, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and pub quizzes have proved popular as SDRs look for a chance to one-up each other with their knowledge. It doesn’t even have to be extravagant. Our reps are so competitive they also have a best lunch competition. 

Another suggestion from the team at SalesLoft is to gamify outreach. Challenge your team to draft email sequences and track which ones perform better over a period of time. 

Celebrating the wins of others is as important to us as our competitive spirit. You don’t get anywhere if you’re all pulling in different directions. We can be competitive, but we’ve all got to keep pushing each other for the good of the business.

We usually have a gong in the office that reps can hit when they smash their targets. In lieu of that, our SDRs have been filming themselves clanging together saucepans when they hit a PB or doing roly-polys in the garden. If anything, they are enjoying the opportunity to celebrate even more wildly than they can in the office.  

Up the Incentives

Regardless of how competitive your team is, they also need incentives. We’ve tried a number of tactics to keep staff motivated. Perhaps the two most important are lowering their targets while keeping commission structures. 

In the vast majority of cases, lowering targets makes sense given the current climate. Very few companies are going to sell well at the moment, and you don’t want unmotivated SDRs. The solution is to adjust targets so they are still challenging but reachable. Of course, make sure you consider each rep individually. You don’t want to be going to easy on your best salespeople. 

We’ve also been doing what we can to recreate the non-monetary incentives we provide in the office. We can’t take staff to lunch anymore, but we can reward them with a restaurant meal via Deliveroo for a job well done.

Schedule Downtime

The things we do after work as a company are just as important as the things we do during work. They also need to be replicated now that we are working remotely.

That’s why we’ve replaced after-work drinks with Zoom Happy Hours. These offer our team an opportunity to relax, have a drink and talk about something other than work. But they also provide a definitive end to the week. There’s a danger that work and home life blur into one when you don’t leave the office, but these kinds of events stop that from happening. 

Communicating about non-work things shouldn’t just happen at the end of the day. Think about the chats you have with colleagues in the tea room or during lunch. These should be replicated in Slack or whichever chat application you use. 

Doing so can help strengthen intra-company relationships that might otherwise wane in this period. “Without the water-cooler talk that’s common in an office environment, it’s hard to build relationships with teams,” writes Irina Kirnos, product marketing manager at RingCentral. “Regular team communication helps to develop the bonds that will make employees more loyal to your company.”

We’re also taking steps to encourage mental wellbeing. We’ve formed a book club, to make sure downtime is filled with engaging activities, as well as a mental health committee. It’s a cliche to say that the company is one big family. But at a time when most of us can’t see loved ones, we really are trying to step up and fill that void.

We aren’t alone in this respect. Virtual meditation classes are one of the initiatives that HR and business operations director Mary Mathews and her team have adopted at Keyfactor. They are looking at offering additional resources in the future, too.

“Without the water-cooler talk that’s common in an office environment, it’s hard to build relationships with teams.

Keep the Vision

If you have a great company culture, your employees will be bought into the business’s success. They are working for their own pay cheque, but they are also working towards bigger goals that help the company. Perhaps your incentives are aligned with this. 

There’s a chance employees can become disconnected from the bigger picture when working from home. They don’t get to see the boss or company directors if they aren’t in the office, and they might not be able to speak with them.

In the uncertain times we find ourselves in, you must be clear with your team about the company’s future and anything that could impact their jobs. It’s entirely natural for them to be paranoid about being let go or being furloughed. While you might want to keep morale high by hiding the ugly truth from your team, nothing will bring it down faster than employees who found out they’ve been lied to.

Now’s not the time to lose your company culture. Now is the time to make it stronger than ever. If you’re having success doing so, let us know how in the comments.

Images by: Priscilla Du Preez, Charles Deluvio, Allie Smith