In the early days of digital wireless networks, I had the opportunity to work for Nextel Communications as both an employee and as an Authorized Distributor (Dealer). Starting in 1995, I worked with Nextel for a total of six years. During that time, I was able to observe first-hand the key attributes that made the Nextel team excel. Recently, I reached out to a few of the leaders and team members with whom I worked to gather their thoughts on what made us such a high performing team.
Hire Great People and Work FOR Them
Sally Fleck, the San Diego Sales Director responsible for the direct team, said there were two factors to which she attributed our success. First, she hired great people who knew how to sell. There was a wide range of backgrounds on our team, and Sally looked at this diversity as an asset. Our team members’ unique perspectives helped us close different types of sales opportunities. Second, Sally firmly believed that she worked FOR the team, and not the other way around. This meant she took it upon herself to remove barriers, both externally with customers and internally with bureaucracy, which allowed us to focus on selling. She was damn good at it too, as all eight members of our team made the Presidents’ Club trip to Jamaica in 1996…..YA MON!
Focus on the Customer
When we first launched the digital network, the Motorola handsets were still in development and our network build out was not yet complete. During this time, Regional Vice President John Combs decided that our #1 priority would be our customers. For each commercial sale, we sent a Customer Service Representative to conduct a hands-on training with the customer’s team. We made sure that all users understood how to use the handset and were well versed on its many capabilities.
In addition, all new customers received a Customer Satisfaction Survey, and the scores we earned were closely followed and reviewed with us. We knew that the sale didn’t end after the deal was closed, and that we had to expend some effort on ensuring our users were happy.
Skill Development and Career Advancement
Nextel did a great job investing in their people, and during my three years with the direct team I went through SPIN Selling as well as The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. SPIN selling was a very hot sales methodology at the time, and I still recall the foundational concepts the program provided for our team. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits also established a great framework for professional and personal growth. Due largely in part to our focus on skill development, five of the eight members of our team were promoted internally or advanced into the Dealer/Channel Sales program.
Brian Moses ran the Dealer/Channel Indirect Sales program for the San Diego market, and he helped bring me into this new part of the business and provide me with the support I needed to focus on closing deals and driving revenue. Having an internal perspective on how Nextel operated gave Brian, my team and me an advantage in our ability to successfully onboard customers, provide high quality service, and drive revenue through referrals.
The Best Sales Team
My career at Nextel was my final role as an individual producer in a corporate environment, and it provided me and many others with a strong foundation in sales and customer service. As I reflect with my colleagues on what made us so successful, it was the culture of hiring great people and working FOR them, an unequivocal customer focus in all aspects of the organization, and an acknowledgement of the importance of skill development and career advancement. We had a lot of fun in those years, and I still keep in touch with many of my Nextel team members today. It was without a doubt the best sales team I ever had the pleasure of being on.