Recently, 12 sales people participated in an end of financial year team building event in a Thai Cave.
The Sales Director had anticipated the team would bond together, share stories of their wins and enjoy the fun of navigating the dark cave using only their communication skills for direction.
All mobile phones were left with their Jimmy Choos and RM Williams at the cave’s entrance.
Given they were all literally in the dark, they lost their bearings and when the last game of ‘My client is bigger than your client’ ended, nobody could find their way out.
The first to speak was the millennial inside sales specialist who suggested they should first build their strength by getting uberEATS, until he realised his phone was 4 kms away.
The Pre-Sales Manager wryly observed that they wouldn’t have even been in this situation if they had built in some contingency such as allowing at least one mobile. His portable battery pack hung forlornly off his belt loop, depressing him even more,
The three enterprise sales people gathered in a corner away from the main group strategising which accounts they should take over after the sackings take place over this disaster.
Two Sales Support people moved from person to person asking if they were OK and asserted that they had to get out because they had six open orders to complete by the morning …or else.
The Sales Operations Manager started walking down a track all on their own, figuring that it was surely the same approach they had taken on the way in. It turned out to be a dead end and they went back and sat with everyone else in the bat droppings and blanket darkness.
After two days of cold, mind-numbing despair, a voice was heard in the distance.
‘Hello, hellooo’, it echoed.
‘HELLOOO’, the sales team bellowed back in unison.
‘I’m an expert navigator’ the distant voice proclaimed ‘I can help you immediately by re-training you how to take the right steps at the right time to get out of here’.
The responses from deep within the cave were astonishing.
‘Our training budgets were cut along with travel last month’ said the Sales Ops Manager.
‘You’ll have to go through HR’ said the Sales Support people.
‘I’ve done this kind of training’ said the Enterprise Sales people. ‘I already know all that stuff and it’s probably just another framework that won’t even get us half way towards the entrance’.
Then, amidst the pitch black gloom the Sales Director spoke, softly, but with conviction.
‘The person who found us is an expert, guaranteeing us the most precious gift of all – survival.
Your lives are at stake and I’m not letting you rot here without having explored every option, especially when there is a highly experienced, external resource at our doorstep’.
With that, the Sales Director called out ‘Hello, Expert Navigator – you’re hired’.
The Expert Navigator reached inside the cave, flicked the master switch and flooded the cave with light. ‘Follow the arrows…and I’ll meet you here with my invoice’ he said.
One by one, they all safely walked out of the cave wondering why they hadn’t thought of checking the entrance in the first place.
‘Sometimes, no matter how simple or complex it may be, it takes someone whose navigated over 4,000 caves to guide you through’ said the Expert Navigator as he walked off into the sunset.
The sales team reached hungrily for their phones to check Linkedin and upload pictures of the cave to Instagram and Facebook. Some even called their families.
The millennial jumped on uberEATS and ordered Pad Thai.
The team building day got an average score of 9 on the feedback survey.
Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Corporate Sales, Negotiation and Presentation trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Asciano, Samsung and Lend Lease.
He is the author of # 1 International Best Seller ‘ Confessions of a Pitch Consultant‘ and is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.
Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two cave-dwellers.