Crankathons: Achieve More Sales and Better Service Delivery

We all know about Telethons.  And most of us have heard of Facebook’s famous Hackathons, where an army of engineers get together and pull all-nighters to work on special projects, problem solving, and other creative ideas they may have.

At Lore Systems, we have found an effective way to get more productivity out of our managers and sales execs, in terms of outreach and folllow-ups to clients and prospects. We hold “Crankathons,” where a group of us get into a conference room and bang out dozens of emails at a time, and attack small and large, but important, business problems and issues.  (Note:  Our team’s average age is a few more years than FB’s so we don’t stay up all night!)

This is especially effective when done consistently.  Why?  Every week, lots of action items and follow-up tasks accumulate.  Most of these involve communications with prospects and clients, and Crankathons provide a venue and vehicle where we can get out of our offices and away from all the noise and distractions.  There’s no substitute for concentrated effort, and we each have a common objective:  get most our accumulated “to dos” done in one sitting.  We compare notes, discuss specific approaches and solutions to certain clients, and BOND with each other.

Maybe I’m “Old School,” but I believe the best form of communication is face to face, and when our team convenes together, lots of key information is shared and this allows us to provide a better and more complete service to the outside, as we get to know each other and build trust through our various interactions.  Because of this, I think this also accelerates the creation of high performing teams.

The results have been amazing, in terms of staying focused on each of our highest prioirties and getting real work done.

What do you think?  I am always looking for great new ideas to improve performance, so please share any cool and interesting ways in which you are getting your teams to accomplish more.

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35 thoughts on “Crankathons: Achieve More Sales and Better Service Delivery

  1. Great post Tien,

    As you know, there’s a school of thought that says salespeople should be in front of customers & prospects during daylight hrs and work on follow-ups, etc at night. You make a good point though about brainstorming and bonding!

    Just curious, what type of system does Lore Systems use to track follow-ups & account management issues? Maybe something like Google Docs or Dropbox? Thanks, Mitch

    • HI Mitch, thanks so much for the comment. Completely agree with you about face time and phone time during working hours. You can only do call blitzes or Crankathons once or twice a week and for no more than 3 hours or so. As for tools, we are a happy Salesforce.com customer, we do use Goole Docs, and and we also have our own proprietary workflow management tool we have been using for many years. Seems to work for now. Hope to see you soon!

  2. great idea Tien – I am going to try it with my team. I wonder if including key partners or customers in crankathons would increase results and reach.

    • HI Pierre, good luck and let me know how it works out. I’ve never tried doing a Crankathon with partners or customers, but I guess it would depend on their level and extent of participation. If you do include them, I’d love to talk with you about the results.

  3. Hi Tien — totally agree that face to face collaboration is optimum — sometimes a unique set of eyes and ears puts a different perspective on the best solutions/responses. Do you have a suggestion for employees in decentralized organizations? Skype isn’t the same as face to face, but is tech the best short term solution, with coordinated travel to meet ongoing as much as possible…

    • Thanks for the comment, Drew. It’s not easy to manage teams spread out all over the country, but my suggestion is to communicate as much as possible, via videoconference calls. SKYPE is a great solution which we also use. When I had 9 offices around he country, we held 2 daily 15-20 minute “heads-up” calls every morning (one for the East Coast and one for the West), and one weekly meeting/cal (about 2.5 hours). We also got the teams together offsite once a quarter. It takes longer for these relationships and mutual bonds to foster, but it’s an effective way to deal with people who are not together in one location. Good luck!

  4. You know Tien, I’ve had “solo” crankathons where no one is allowed to interrupt me with calls or discussions for a specific amount of time so that I can get through email. The idea of doing this as a team is an awesome one indeed. If more of my managers were local versus in four other states in the country, I would institute this TODAY! ;-D When my local staff grows again, trust that this idea will be implemented!!

    • Terrific Barbara! I know several organizations which do call blitzes, which are essentially telemarketing campaigns where sales reps block out a 1/2 or full day to make calls. Some buddy up with teams, and prizes are given for certain metrics, like most appointments set, most prospects generated, etc. I am glad you guys have found success with this concentration of effort.

    • Hola Juliana, todo bien? Thank you for the Comment. Face to face is important everywhere in the world, especially in Brazil. That’s why you guys have grown your business so successfully in Rio. Keep up the great work!

  5. Tien – Love it! My team tries to do daily ‘power hours’ where we identify one area of the business we all want to focus on and then we do that 100% for the hour. While we’re not in the same location, we find that these hours are incredibly helpful for the business.

  6. Hi Tien,
    I really like the idea, and the follow-up comments from others seem to suggest you tap into something; regular, systematic and organised clear-ups of the team to-do list.
    I’d like to link from my blog to this article, if that’s okay with you ?

      • Hi Tien,
        Many thanks. I’ve added an entry onto my business blog linking to your article, and also set up a link from my blog to yours, because I see a few articles you’ve produced which reflect the topics I promote at You Are Here Consulting (leadership, productivity, engagement, and team effectiveness), and I would like my readers to benefit. All the best.

  7. I, for one, cannot work from home; there are too many distractions. However, my work office becomes like home at times with so many distractions. I like to get in the office REALLY early 1x/week and get any backed up items completed. Getting out of the office to focus 100% is also key for me as you said in your post. I look forward to when I have a team to work with and implement.

  8. Tien,
    This is a very interesting blog. As I read through it, I thought I was reading excerpts from a Harvard Business Review article. Your combination of real life experiences and useful content is rare. Thanks for creating and sharing this. Best of luck developing this. My guess is that the best is yet to come.

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