One world observatory, sales culture, culture, COVID-19, sports business
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How we've transitioned our sales culture during COVID-19

by andrew hicks - manager, group sales at one world observatory (NY)
October 13, 2020

We have lived in a world of grey over these last 6+ months. For many, including myself, this has been difficult to adjust to. We all were used to a particular way of life pre-COVID, and when things would change unexpectedly, we would not always know how to adjust appropriately, and instead would reminisce about better, easier, and more predictable times.

As we have gone through this chaotic year, we have had to get more comfortable being uncomfortable than ever before. At home; at work; out in public. It went from “phone, wallet, keys” to “phone, wallet, keys, mask, and hand sanitizer”. The amount of little changes we have all had to make in our lives has been staggering, and it seems to grow each day.

All that said, I have to give a major shoutout to our entire team at One World Observatory. They have adapted, and continue to adapt, to our new normal wonderfully well. Here is what we have done to align our culture at One World Observatory with the new normal.

"As a manager – your team is your most important asset. It is imperative that you make them feel included in as much as possible."

More team-wide collaboration

I’m sure when all this started, we wished there had been a guidebook to leading a sales team or being part of a sales team during a pandemic. I’d be the first person in line to buy it. On the flip side, this “lack of guidebook” has given us an opportunity to collaborate with our reps and solicit feedback from them in ways we never have before, which has been awesome.

Once myself and my Co-Manager built out our (what we thought would be) two week work-from-home plan for the team on March 13th, we eventually realized that we might not be going about it the best way. It was a reminder of one of the most important things to realize as a Manager – your team is your most important asset. It is imperative that you make them feel included in as much as possible, and given the basically clean slate we had to work with due to COVID, we consistently asked them (and still do) for ideas. For anything. Team-building events; new experiences for the Observatory to offer; professional development opportunities, sales trainings, etc. At this point, no idea is a bad idea. Let’s try anything and see what works. One of our reps planned out an hour long “Murder Mystery” happy hour that was an absolute BLAST. That’s easily been one of my favorite rep-led activities that we’ve done during quarantine. We also had reps team up to build a Kahoots training – Kahoots is a jeopardy style training platform. Highly recommend giving it a shot if you haven’t already.

We also did a Start, Stop, Continue with the team about three months into quarantine. This gave them an opportunity to share what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about their virtual day to day, along with ways to make it better. One message we consistently preach is if you think something can be done better, tell us, and come prepared with a solution. No manager is perfect, and they will not always see everything the team does. It is important for all leaders to set the expectation that, while there are some non-negotiables, the team can always come to you with ideas and suggestions for ways to improve the culture.

Virtual sales floors

One of the biggest things we miss the most about being in the office is the energy on the sales floor. For me personally, it always woke me up in the morning and gave me that dopamine boost that carried me through the day. Replacing that feeling while working from home has been difficult.

About two months ago, I saw a post from someone about “virtual sales floors”, and I wish I could remember who posted it. Regardless, I thought it was an amazing idea, so naturally I decided to steal it. As I’ve often heard in this industry, the best ideas are always stolen!

virtual sales floor, sales training, sales coaching, one world observatoryThe OWO "virtual sales floor"

We immediately began implementing them into our weeks, and it was a game changer. The way it works is: you all hop on video for an hour (Teams, Zoom, doesn’t matter), and all go on mute. Wish we didn’t have to be on mute, but hearing 5 people all talk at once over a video call is not ideal. Once this is set up, you begin making calls, and put successes in the Chat section of whichever app you’re using. Even though you can’t physically “talk” to each other, getting to hype up your teammates in the chat is always great. Plus, you knock out a large chunk of your daily call metrics in a short window of time. Opens up more time for activities such as prospecting and networking.

Virtual open houses

Early on, we struggled to find unique ways to engage with our clients besides checking in and seeing how they were doing during. While there is certainly a lot of value in that, we wanted to challenge ourselves to level up there, despite face-to-face sales events not being a thing for the foreseeable future.

A couple of the most common questions we got during our outreach were “What are you doing to keep us safe?” and “What new packages do you offer?” Thankfully, we have an AMAZING Operations team that helped create a full Venue Re-Integration plan that goes into full detail on how we are adapting our space to keep it safe during COVID. Those changes came with us having to get creative on new packages and experiences to help our guests feel comfortable and safe.

"Those that can put that frustration aside, and instead focus on building relationships and keeping people familiarized with us and what we do, are going to succeed both now and once we come out of this."

Once we had all this information, we began hosting Virtual Open Houses with our current clients – each lasted about a half hour so it would fall in line with a normal Zoom call length. Our sales reps, my co-manager and I walked them through (over Zoom) all the changes we were making to our space (ie. health and safety protocols, new experiences, and enhancements to current experiences). Throughout the presentation and after, we encouraged them to ask questions in an open forum, or privately over Zoom chat if they wanted.

Our clients felt it was informative and helpful in that we got to answer these questions all on one call, as opposed to individual calls with each client or e-mailing them back and forth. Anything to save the inbox.

One world observatory, sales training, culture, sports businessthe OWO team with Andrew

Building relationships and building patience

Now more than ever, finding the balance between asking for the sale vs not sounding sleazy has become challenging. So we have added additional focus on both building relationships, as well as asking hypothetical questions such as “If we were in normal times, how open would you be to having a conversation?” or “If we were open, what aspects of our experience excite you the most?” Our goal is to ask questions that will hopefully yield positive, upbeat responses because, let’s face it, there have been times throughout quarantine where it has been hard to stay positive. But those who have been able to find any positive they can during this time are going to come out on top.

Patience is key to building these relationships as well. Our industry has come to understand that things will likely not get "back to normal" until at least early 2021, if not later. Therefore, it can be frustrating to have good conversations with clients, only to realize they won’t come to fruition for several months. Those that can put that frustration aside, and instead focus on building relationships and keeping people familiarized with us and what we do, are going to succeed both now and once we come out of this. Patience is a virtue!

I hope at least some of this was helpful to you all! Be sure to become a Clubhouse Pro today and set up a mentorship call with me to chat 1 on 1! I'd be glad to meet you. Thanks for reading, everyone and good luck.

Andrew began his career with the New York Mets as an Inside Sales Representative in November 2013. After 10 months, he was promoted to Account Executive, Group Sales. A little under 3 years later, he transitioned to the Mets Group Services team, one of the first ever in all of sports, dedicated to maintaining relationships with all Group Renewal accounts. After about 5 and a half total years with the Mets, Andrew moved to Legends where he is currently the Manager of Group Sales for One World Observatory, the top 3 floors in the One World Trade Center building in Lower Manhattan. His responsibilities include recruiting, training and developing their Group Sales team, while also developing Group Sales programming and packages for the Attraction.