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Keeping morale high in sales in the remote age (Or how I digitized the sales gong)

Alex Irschenberger
October 20, 2021

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Let’s face it: being in sales is 90% rejection and puts its toles on your energy. Usually, we handle this by creating a sales floor vibe in the office - we didn’t re-invent the wheel here - it’s a gong, music, and lots of coffee. But that’s a bit difficult currently. High morale is crucial to keep your sales team happy, it’s key to show appreciation for their hard work, maintain a positive vibe in the team, and celebrate the wins as often as you can.

Doing that in a pandemic-enforced lockdown can be quite a challenge. Most sales reps are social animals, so isolation and social distancing might be harder on them than from our copywriter nerds that prefer a life in the shadows. Remote work is here to stay and a true gift for both employees and employers. However, it’s not for everyone. During the first lockdowns last spring, we experienced that mental health decreased on some sales reps. Motivation and energy slowly seeped out of the team, which had a self-reinforcing effect and spread like a virus (pun kind of intended). In the end, it showed a bit of a negative impact on our results. We could have done better.

A drastic move

So with the second lockdown seeming inevitable, significant corona fatigue already accumulated, and a harsh winter before us, it was clear to me that I had to do something. I know this sounds drastic, but I had to digitize the gong.

Sales gongs have been used in sales teams for decades to motivate sales reps, celebrate all kinds of wins and increase competitiveness. Who wouldn’t like to hammer that thing? It brings a lot of positive energy to the room when that massive sound goes through the air. It breaks the routine and gives everyone a chance to relieve themselves from the daily grind. Get reminded about what this is all about. I have also found that it pushes the sales reps to perform better when they know they awarded with everyone’s attention and receive well-deserved recognition when they succeed.

The question was how to emulate that idea on a remote team? How could we create a virtual gong?

Contractbook was founded as a remote-first company, and we have spent a great effort perfecting our Slack culture over the years. We use bi-weekly townhalls, water cooler calls, frequent 1:1’s, selfie-days, a random-channel that are actually funny, customized emojis of everyone on the team and all kinds of initiatives to build the team spirit and a culture of both trust and fun between people that never met and know very little of each other. In some ways, it’s about digitizing some social structures, but sometimes it’s about rethinking it entirely.

The virtual sales gong

In this case, the result was something in between, and it turned out that the perfect solution as simple, obvious and right before my very eyes. We combined Slack and our own platform.

Allow me to introduce Contractbook’s automated sales gong.

Here is how our internal Gong message look like.

Whenever one of our sales reps closes a deal by signing a sales contract through Contractbook, not only is the deal stage automatically updated in our CRM-system, it also generates a customized message in our sales channel on Slack. The sales reps have then had the chance to customize their own Gong message with a gif, emojis and the whole shebang so that they can get celebrated in style by the entire team.

Leveraging celebrations

It has turned out to be a lot of fun (probably the most fun document automation we have invented yet) - and the team loves it. In fact, it is not only for the sales team. The entire company can now follow as we reach our targets, and everyone can participate in our culture of celebration and encouragement. As a sales director, I also get a better chance to motivate my sales reps when they perform. What is more, the virtual gong works as a nice notification tool that helps me stay on top of my job as well.

A signed contract triggers the deal to be moved in the CRM-system and a virtual gong stroke in Slack.

Whenever this pandemic is over and societies are finally open again, I am confident that we will stay true to the virtual gong. To be fair, real gongs tend to be a bit repetitive. There is no variation in the sound it makes. And excuse me if I am a bit too much of a boomer to say this, but I reckon that a virtual gong is much better suited for the younger generations of digital natives. It’s customizable, it’s digital, it’s automated, and it can be heard both at the office and in all the remote places our team is distributed between. What is not to like?

The virtual gong is pretty easy to implement, and it can be accessed through our new automation plan, so reach out to us if you need one of your own. I can truly recommend it.

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