It’s a common phenomenon. Brands are so focused on connecting with their customers that they forget to engage another key demographic: their sales force. Yet, as important as it is to build events that excite consumers, it’s just as crucial to create experiences that inspire employees. Salespeople, after all, serve as brand ambassadors—key extensions of the company that know just how to leverage the power of persuasion. But if they’re not motivated, chances are, neither are customers. And it isn’t just the bottom line that suffers; it’s the brand as a whole. That’s why some of the world’s most successful companies hold internal events that educate, celebrate and, most importantly, inspire their sales force. Take a spin through these tips to find out how top brands make it happen.
Leverage a Product Launch
Harley-Davidson’s 2016 Annual Dealer Meeting was one for the books. In addition to company updates, demos and networking, attendees were treated to a theatrical unveiling of the company’s new V-Twin engine to get them revved up for the year ahead. For the big reveal, Harley lowered three of the new engines to the stage on custom-built elevators that offered rotating views of the V-Twins, along with fog, dramatic lighting and the roar of the engines. To cap it off, Harley-Davidson designers drove off the stage on the brand’s full portfolio of vehicles—a spectacle no dealer will soon forget.
Drive Home Brand Messaging
What better way to keep the sales force inspired than by immersing them in what the brand stands for? That was Budweiser’s approach at the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Sales & Marketing Communication Meeting (SAMCOM). Instead of boring attendees with static presentations, the brand turned the conference into a larger-than-life activation that inspired the sales force through brand messaging. At the heart of its 50,000-square-foot Bud World footprint were four immersion zones that brought to life the brand’s quarterly campaign goals. Each zone was anchored by a mobile unit and featured a beer display, new merchandise, branded giveaways and plenty of cold brews. The experience offered everything from a look at Bud’s sports sponsorships, to a photo op with the famous Budweiser Clydesdales to an arcade featuring custom branded games and a signature draught bar. Attendees went home “bleeding Budweiser red.”
Members of the sales team are generally the experts when it comes to the company’s current product and service offerings, but internal events provide a prime opportunity to school them on, and generate anticipation for, what’s coming down the pike. At Toyota’s National Dealer Meeting, the company informed attendees that it would double down on its strategy to activate on sports- and music-related platforms. To that end, in addition to unveiling never-been-seen vehicle models, executives announced the brand’s powerful new sponsorships, including one for the Olympic Games and another for the popular singing competition series “The Voice.” Plans for new partnerships with sports properties like FIFA, NASCAR and the NFL, and music-based experiences at venues like Lolapallooza, were also revealed. In educating attendees on the brand’s upcoming initiatives and overall strategy, Toyota not only prepared dealers to speak to partners and customers about what the brand has in store, it sent them home pumped up about their jobs, and the brand as a whole.
The sales team is on the front lines everyday, representing the company and driving brand loyalty—and they deserve to be recognized for their hard work. Holding an internal event without celebrating employees’ achievements is an opportunity missed, according to Pandora’s director of internal events, Marta Riggins. “We can recruit people all we want, but if it’s not a fun work environment, people won’t stay… It’s important for employees to socialize and know each other and celebrate your wins. That pays off in spades as far as retention goes. They know the company is investing in them, creating something fun, and acknowledging their work.”