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Giving Your Staff a Purpose

I’ve told you the story about the Simon Game that happened on Christmas Eve in 1980. I was only fourteen years old and it was a life-changer.

I haven’t told you what happened exactly two years later.

There was a guy, probably late 20’s, in his Carhart overalls staring at an empty place on the shelves. Back in 1982 we were a full-line dealer for this young and growing company called Little Tikes. They were making these amazing rotational molded plastic toys. They had a whole lineup of kitchen appliances including a stove, a refrigerator and a sink. (Yes, they were sold separately back then.)

This guy was staring at the empty hole where we would normally have stocked a sink.

Do you know the look of defeat? With his eyes glazed over, trying to hold back tears, this guy defined that look. I asked him if I could help.

“This hole means you don’t have any sinks left, right?”

In 1982 I didn’t have a computer to look up my stock numbers. I did, however, remember seeing one in a box in the warehouse. I told him to hold on while I checked just to make sure.

The one in back had just recently been canceled from a layaway. You should have seen his face when I brought out the box from the back room. It was magical!

We hugged and cried and I watched this guy literally dance his way out into the parking lot. It wasn’t until years later that I heard the term “happy-dance” but I saw one on Christmas Eve in 1982.

I don’t know if I am blessed, lucky, or just happened to have worked too many years in retail, but I actually have several more stories just like this one.

Twenty years later I had the staff together for our final meeting before the Christmas Season kicked into full gear. I called this our Pep Rally meeting. I liked to have a theme I unveiled at this meeting each year, something easy for the staff to remember.

In 2002 the phenomenon sweeping the nation was Harry Potter. The books were huge and the first movie had just been released. So our theme was Believe in the Magic. I told everyone the Simon Story and the story above. I told them a couple other “magical” stories.

We talked about the difference between service and “magical service.” We discussed the differences between selling toys and creating “magical memories.”

Then I handed everyone their own magic wand that said “Believe in the Magic!”

It was a powerful meeting, and it led to a magical season. The key was the theme.

I didn’t teach them anything new that I hadn’t already been teaching. I didn’t give them new information they didn’t already have. I didn’t introduce new concepts, techniques, or skills. It was the same stuff I always teach. The difference was the word “magical.”

By giving the season a theme and linking it to one single word or phrase, I made the meeting more memorable. I made the concepts come alive. I breathed new life into old teachings. I gave them one simple thing to focus on—being magical.

I gave them a Purpose.

As you prepare your team for this upcoming selling season, give them something to believe in. Give them a Purpose that makes it simple for them to remember their training.

One year I used the Super Hero theme. I told them stories about when we had been the hero for our customers and talked about what heroes do. (I even dressed up in a cape. If you’ve seen one of my live presentations, you’ve seen the picture of me in that cape.)

One year the theme was Become an Expert. We talked about how experts build trust through honesty and accuracy. We discussed how experts do research and know their stuff.

If you have read Daniel H. Pink’s book DRIVE, you know the three ingredients needed for motivation are Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. Your meetings give them Mastery. Sprinkle in some Purpose, though, and the recipe gets even better.

Create a theme for your Pep Rally meeting. Not only does it give them a purpose, it makes the meeting more fun and it makes it easier for your staff to remember one big thing rather than several little things.

(For more on planning your staff meetings and trainings, download the Free eBook Staff Meetings Everyone Wants to Attend)

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Some of you are jealous. You’re thinking how fun it must have been to be a toy store and play all those games and have fun themes like magic or super heroes or Disney Princesses. You can’t do that because you’re an insurance agency, a dentist, or a doctor’s office so you have to be serious all the time. Or you’re a shoe seller or a pharmacy or a grocer, and there’s nothing fun about that. Oh really? We still need heroes and experts in all those fields. We still want magical experiences. Just imagine the difference when one dental office in your town decides to become “magical” or one grocer puts an emphasis on being your “hero.” That’s a game changer.

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