All You Really Need to Know About Employee Engagement You Learned in Little League

“You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
-Babe Ruth

PowerHomePower Home Technologies is a company with hustle. The representatives who sell its home-security systems work on full commission; if they don’t make calls, they don’t make payroll. That salary structure tends to attract naturally competitive people and reward those who leave it all on the field, says CEO Ben Brookhart.

“Being lazy in our business is not going to cut it,” asserts Brookhart, who began selling security solutions 17 years ago after an injury ended his college baseball career. “When we bring in candidates for interviews, the most important things are confidence and a positive attitude. With those two ingredients, we can train them to do anything.”

But any Barry Bonds–era fan of the San Francisco Giants will tell you that superstar hitters can’t win the World Series alone. Teamwork is the secret to long-term victory — and that takes more than competitive DNA, Brookhart says.

He knows of what he speaks: His North Carolina-based company has doubled its workforce over the past five years, and in 2012 it brought in more than $19 million in revenue.

Brookhart draws a direct line between Power Home Technologies’ success and its engaging team-based sales competitions. Each year, the 10 Power Home Technologies branches square off in a sales challenge designed to drive greater sales through teamwork.

Here are its four rules for building teams through competition:

  1. Everyone plays harder in a jersey.
    At Power Home Technologies, each annual sales competition is built around a sports theme. In 2013, that theme is football. Each branch chose an NFL or NCAA identity (depending on office size) and adopted its mascot, colors, and fight song as its own. When sales reps rally around their new identity, Brookhart explains, “they’re not thinking about knocking on doors or making phone calls, but about scoring a touchdown for the team. It takes the focus off the mental challenges of sales and puts it on the winning. I tell them, ‘Don’t chase money. Chase success.’”
  2. Trash talking is a sign of heavy engagement.
    Power Home Technologies uses a private Facebook page to update its sales leaderboard. But you can’t really, truly talk smack from a keyboard, so Brookhart hosts a weekly sales call that “gets people riled up.” He encourages the interoffice rivalries and says that as long as he sees people wearing team colors and hears them trash-talking at the watercooler, he knows his approach is working.
  3. Cash prizes are good, but a trophy is better.
    Winning teams receive $16,000 to be divided evenly among all members or relative to each individual’s sales — it’s up to each branch to decide. More importantly, Brookhart says, the champions are called onstage during Power Home Technologies’ big annual party to claim their trophy. “The money is always great,” he says, “but what they’re really looking for is a pat on the back in front of their peers.”
  4. MVPs make great coaches.
    To keep star players engaged, Power Home Technologies also rewards outstanding individual efforts with a weekly cash prize of $200. What’s more, the company offers a special role to these MVPs: “Our superstars are given a team captain role, and their job is to go out and train their teammates to be successful, too,” Brookhart says.

THE PLUS

Power Home Technologies is not just selling a product; it’s selling a relationship built around trust and security. Keeping customers happy means responding quickly to service calls and catching problems before customers do. To that end, Brookhart says, all Power Home Technologies installation technicians are required to do one thing before leaving a new client’s home: Dial customer service and hand over the phone. Customers are asked to rate the company from 1 to 10 on 10 metrics. If the total score is less than 90, the technician must stay to make things right.

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