Beyond the gong: How these 6 Seattle tech sales teams celebrate success

by Quinten Dol
February 12, 2019

Nobody celebrates quite like sales. With all those sociable people in one place, a hint of competition in the air, and ambitious targets to hit, everybody needs to let some steam off every now and then.

Here, sales leaders at six Seattle tech companies describe how they measure and celebrate their teams’ success. While there are as many clanging gongs and after-work parties as you might expect, their answers reveal diverse approaches to bringing in the deals and celebrating them at quarter’s end.

 

hiya seattle tech
photo via hiya

Seattle’s Hiya is on a crusade against spammers and robocalls, partnering with smartphone manufacturers and service providers worldwide to provide context for inbound and outbound calls. Spammers’ tactics are constantly evolving, meaning Hiya’s engineers and product managers are usually working on new algorithms and techniques to counter them.

Director of Business Development Chris Sorensen leads a growing team spread across offices in both Seattle and the United Kingdom, and said he likes his employees to think like elite athletes.

 

Let’s start with the basics: What constitutes a sales success at Hiya?

Our account executives think of themselves, first and foremost, as problem solvers. If we do a good job of focusing on solving the customer’s problems, we're no longer selling — we’re helping facilitate the purchase of a solution. Success means we proved that our solution solves their problem and we are rewarded tangibly with a contract.
 

We want to take the mindset of an elite athlete in training.”

 

What are some of the best ways your team celebrates big wins?

We want to take the mindset of an elite athlete in training: reduce distractions and focus on improving as individuals and as a team. We are constantly in pursuit of an edge. If we take too long patting ourselves on the back or celebrating sales wins, we cede precious energy that could be used to improve and push forward. Make no mistake, we’re thrilled when a new customer joins us, but it certainly isn't worthy of a huge celebration. What is worthy of celebration is when, months after we sign them, a customer tells us, “I’m so glad I chose to work with Hiya.”

 

tinypulse seattle sales team culture
photo via tinypulse

TINYpulse’s anonymous weekly surveys help businesses keep tabs on company culture and stimulate dialogue with employees. Workers can use the surveys — known as “pulses” — to celebrate their peers and vote on workplace-related issues that matter most to them. Founder David Niu came up with the idea after selling his last company and taking an extended family “careercation.”

Manager of New Business Sales and Sales Development Josh Skinner said it’s important to listen to employees when celebrating success, and remember that sometimes people often just want to have fun.

 

What constitutes a sales success at TINYpulse?  

We gauge sales successes in so many ways at TINYpulse. We always want to look at the micro and the macro wins. On the micro side, it could be as simple as hitting your activity numbers, or finally getting through to someone that you have been trying to connect with for three months. Meanwhile, a macro win could be closing a large deal, or a big logo. Either way, when we win, we win together. The reason why they are all so impactful — and all feel so good — is that we know every person and every single win, big or small, is helping move the needle and push our team as a whole to the finish line.
 

Our team does not play in the kiddie pool — we have aggressive goals designed to push our reps every month.”

 

What are some of the best ways your team celebrates big wins?

First, I think we need to acknowledge that our team does not play in the kiddie pool — we have aggressive goals designed to push our reps every month. So nothing feels better than celebrating a big month or huge win. In my experience, people often make two big mistakes when they are planning a celebration for their team. First, they do not involve the team in the decision-making process and second, they try to make it a mini award show, with lots of speeches and honors. Remember that at this point everyone just wants to turn off work for a bit and have fun. Recently, my favorite TINYparty was at Portal, the virtual reality arcade in Ballard. Sometimes video games and pizza is all you need.

 

pitchbook seattle sales team
photo via pitchbook

PitchBook’s finance database provides valuable information for investors, advisors, businesses and journalists, tracking a wide variety of data points for the public and private equity markets. The company was acquired by Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar in 2016 for $180 million and has offices in New York and London to complement its Seattle headquarters.

Vice President of Sales Paul Santarelli said his team has plenty of opportunities ahead of them to expand PitchBook’s business.

 

What constitutes a sales success at PitchBook?

Success in sales at PitchBook comes down to two very simple behaviors: Do you care about what we do? Are you prepared to work your tail off?

We sell a complex product to a sophisticated clientele. To successfully position PitchBook as a product to ease our clients’ pain, you must develop a level of compassion for whoever we are working with. It is impossible to develop that compassion without genuine curiosity and passion about our market and the product we deliver. In other words: Do you care?

With regards to working your tail off, it’s a simple equation: The more you put in, the more you get out. We have an incredible opportunity in front of us, and our ability to capitalize on that opportunity comes down to executing every single day. Complacency has no place here.
 

One person’s win is everyone’s win.”

 

What are some of the best ways your team celebrates big wins?

PitchBook is not a boiler room. We have plenty of green field in front of us, which means that any individual’s success will not come at the expense of another’s. That understanding makes for an environment that is ripe with knowledge share and collective pushing. One person’s win is everyone’s win. The more we sell, the more we grow, and the more we grow, the more opportunities are created. Each office and team has its own ways of celebrating, but the common denominator across them all is that the celebrations are done as a team. You’ll have to come work at PitchBook if you want more details…

 

offerup sales team culture jobs
photo via offerup

OfferUp takes a mobile-first approach for local peer-to-peer buying, selling and exchanging of used goods. While other platforms remain clunky and hard to use, the Bellevue company is on a mission to provide a seamless and safe experience for buying and selling.

Auto Sales Team Lead Lizz Callaway said her team takes a distinctly audible approach to celebrating success, a method that includes plenty of gonging and karaoke crooning.

 

What constitutes a sales success at OfferUp?

Sales success on the autos sales team at OfferUp is about always raising the bar and bringing our business to the next level, whether it’s landing a big deal, entering into a new market, or simply pushing the team to break our own records. While you can buy and sell just about anything on OfferUp, auto sales has always been a top category.

This is not a typical sales job; our account executives are introducing a new tech solution to an audience that doesn’t typically use mobile apps to increase their business, so every day is a challenge. What constitutes success can change from day to day, and I absolutely love that aspect of my job.
 

It’s important for us to widely recognize our achievements where the entire company gets to see our everyday successes.”

 

What are some of the best ways your team celebrates big wins?

Whenever a rep closes their first deal, we do a parade around the office and bang a gong to cheer them on so everyone in the company can celebrate with us. Additionally, we hand out sales trophies to give our top reps the recognition they deserve, which are presented at our company all-hands. It’s important for us to widely recognize our achievements where the entire company gets to see our everyday successes. We also give props digitally — we have a “Wins” Slack channel where Salesforce posts every time a deal is secured. And our wins wouldn’t be half as fun if we didn’t also celebrate with team karaoke nights.

 

vcita seattle tech
photo via vcita

Bellevue-based vCita is building an all-in-one business management and client engagement application designed for small businesses. Founded in 2010, the company started as a scheduling platform and has since grown to encompass client management, billing and invoicing and marketing functions, to name a few.

Senior Business Consultant Marcus Babcock said his team is pretty competitive with one another, whether they’re racking up the deals or sinking mini golf balls.

 

What constitutes a sales success at vCita?

A sales success at vCita can be defined in large and small scales. We celebrate individual growth when people exceed their own personal records, as well as company records. We're all very competitive in nature — but we never allow that to get in the way of celebrating personal milestones.
 

The celebration matches the achievement.”

 

What are some of the best ways your team celebrates big wins?

The vCita sales team celebrates every personal record, as well as quarterly team goals in a variety of ways, whether it’s just a drink in the office or a major event like dinner at a steakhouse — the celebration matches the achievement. For example, we recently exceeded a company record three months in a row, and at the end of the quarter the entire office met up at Flatstick Pub for a big celebration — with plenty of competitive events, of course.

 

skilljar seattle tech sales team
photo via skilljar

A business might be successful at building and selling a truly transformational piece of software, but if their clients can’t figure out how to successfully adopt and integrate it into their existing processes, those renewal deals simply aren’t going to come in. Skilljar’s platform lets companies build training programs to help customers successfully use a new piece of software.

Vice President of Sales Samuel Sunderaraj believes that personal career growth for his employees — known internally as “Skillets” — helps drive the company as a whole to new heights.

 

What constitutes a sales success at Skilljar?

At Skilljar, we define sales success in terms of the “how” — the process we follow and the systems that we're building — team development, and the results that we deliver for our customers.

Our sales process aligns closely with our company values, and we believe that if we do the right things the right way, the score will take care of itself. We are committed to the growth of our sales team members, and our philosophy is that individual growth will drive team and company growth. We approach each prospect engagement as an opportunity to help companies enable their customers and drive long-term value. A closed won deal is certainly a landmark event, but it's one built on many additive successes along the way.
 

When a member of the sales team successfully closes a deal, they receive a customized wooden token that we print with our 3D laser printer.”

 

What are some of the best ways your team celebrates big wins?

Our most visible, and audible, way to celebrate big wins is by ringing a gong that we keep in a central location in the office. Not only is this a way to recognize the team member who secured the win, but it’s also a means of celebrating the achievement as a team — because we know that every successful deal is the product of many Skillets’ efforts across teams.

In addition, when a member of the sales team successfully closes a deal, they receive a customized wooden token that we print with our 3D laser printer. The tokens are based on a system of recognition used by fighter pilots in the Navy, who receive badges following a successful maneuver. For our team, the tokens serve as a trophy to celebrate success, as well as a motivation to close additional deals.

 

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