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I'm a big advocate for sales training. I think meetings and training are important aspects of building a strong sales team. However, there's more to team building than just meetings and trainings. Sometimes your team needs to step out of their comfort zone, get competitive, get physical and have some plain old-fashioned fun in the process!
Here are a few ideas that will elevate your next sales meeting to an entertaining and productive team-building exercise:
1) Cooking Competitions
We did this at one of Auto/Mate's summer sales meeting and even the most cooking-averse guys admitted it was fun. We rented space at the local culinary school, divided our sales reps into teams and challenged them to a cook-off. The school provided two chefs (presumably to make sure we didn't burn down the kitchen) and all the ingredients. During the evening we consumed the finished meals along with some nice wine as we judged our sales peoples' cooking abilities and had a lot of laughs.
2) Laser tag
Remember paintball? Laser tag is similar but with less pain involved for the participants. Many communities have laser tag arenas with urban 'sets' complete with ramps, buildings and barriers to duck behind as you try to tag your opponents. Laser tag is exhilarating, fast-paced and takes you away from every day work concerns as your focus narrows down to the basics: hit or be hit, win or lose.
3) Knockerball (aka Bubble Soccer or Zorb Football)
This is a fun idea for a sales meeting or even an employee picnic. Divide your employees into teams, let them don big plastic bubbles and run into each other at full speed. You will feel what it's like to go flying through the air like an NFL running back knocked out of bounds, but without fear of injury.
Auto/Mate also tried this a few years ago. A local theatre group produces an Improv-style training workshop that's very relevant for salespeople. A couple comedians made comparisons between stand-up comedy and the typical sales process (something that we can all relate to). Check your local Improv venue and local theatre groups to see if they offer something similar. If you can't find one, try hiring a local comedian and introduce him or her as the new salesperson or a sales trainer. Let chaos and comedy reign as the sales meeting progresses.
5) Escape Rooms
Your sales team is locked into a room and has one hour to find clues and figure out how to escape. Escape rooms require problem-solving skills, critical thinking and teamwork. Auto/Mate employees did this recently in New Orleans and it was a blast; but the more important takeaway was that it really requires working together. Every person has his or her unique skills that contribute to solving the puzzle.
Escape rooms have recently become very popular; just Google "escape rooms" in your city to find one. Most facilities have several types of rooms to escape from, such as a dungeon, a study or a ship's hold. Rent one room for your entire sales team, or two rooms and see which team escapes first!
What team-building tips or exercises can you suggest? Do you have additional ideas for turning a sales meeting into a memorable bonding experience?