Routines get boring.
If you’ve ever coached youth sports you have likely seen this: a few weeks into practice the kids start losing focus, they’re not as engaged in the activities as they were when you first rolled them out and you’re busting the whistle out a little more often. You decide to change up the routine – add some new drills, mix up the order of activities or play a fun game and BOOM – they’re back.
As a leader in field sales for any length of time, there is no doubt you have seen this play out as well. We are creatures of habit and cling to routines that structure our days. It’s funny because despite citing freedom as one of the main reasons we got into field sales, we end up creating routines and systems that become just as predictable as the cube-farm environment we swear we could never work in.
I took a look at my own daily practices recently and realized how much these silent routines had taken over the smallest parts of my day. For example: the places I was meeting with my sales team during field visits.
Nearly every day that I worked with someone, my suggestion was to meet at the same Panera Bread or Starbucks. That meant the same drive into territory, the same parking lot, the same coffee, the same tables full of other sales folks doing the same thing: all setting up the same ‘ole day. Yawn.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like Panera and Starbucks but the routine was old. In the process, I was setting up my team up with an expectation that today would be same as the last time we met. And the time before that. I was setting MYSELF up for the same old thing, too. How creative or exceptional were we going to treat our customers that day when we were starting off the day literally on autopilot?
So I decided to change it up last week. No meeting at Panera and Starbucks. I challenged my team to find interesting, fun, local places for us to meet. The result? A great breakfast and business discussion at Love Bites Café in Saugerties, NY where interesting local art hung all over the walls. An awesome cup of coffee and performance discussion at Monkey Joe Roasting Company in Kingston, NY sitting underneath the renovated tin ceiling and school house lights. We even ended up grabbing a quick salad at the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, NY where the next generation of chef’s are honing their craft. My team absolutely nailed it.
In each case there was a sense of anticipation for the meeting and fun discussion about the cool new place we were meeting in. It set a tone for the day, or just the meeting, that suggested we were going to try to do things differently and more creatively. We even uncovered parts of town that we knew very little about – right in our business “back yard.”
As sales leaders, we have the opportunity to set the tone for our interactions in the field with even the smallest of choices, like where we decide meet. You want to see more creativity? Then get creative. You want to see better engagement? Then get more engaged. Own it.
Give it a try on your next field visit: meet somewhere new, fun and interesting and see how it goes!
If you’ve got a minute, leave a comment below with your own thoughts on the topic of meeting spots and any other ways you’ve switched up “the routine” to drive stronger engagement during work days in the field.