This last week I had the pleasure of hosting our annual President’s Club in Maui. “PClub,” as we refer to it, is an incentive trip reserved for the top 10% of Brocade’s sales reps and systems engineers from around the world who exceed their annual revenue targets. Qualifiers may also bring spouses or significant others, as we recognize not only extraordinary sales achievements, but also personal sacrifices in terms of family time and travel throughout the year as they “chase the number”.
The Four Seasons Hotel provided first rate accommodations, gourmet food and a top notch staff. Mother Nature also boasted its splendor as we watched thousands of whales who come to the island this time of year to give birth and then mate before heading off to the much colder waters of Alaska. This is why Hawaii is known as the whales’ bedroom while Alaska is known as their kitchen. Whale watching is a favorite excursion for most visitors to Maui since seeing a10-ton whale “breach” and splash-down just a few hundred feet from you is truly awesome and one of those moments you’ll never forget.
Incentive programs are common in our industry but Brocade’s PClub is a little different. No one qualifies for just hitting 100% of his or her goal. Our sales people have to exceed their goals….and trust me, being a relatively newer entrant to the broader Ethernet networking market, we have set our targets extremely high. But I am a firm believer in setting high targets and rewarding extraordinary achievements. Some companies like to share the spoils amongst as many people as possible; I think the complete opposite is true. I want everyone in sales to aspire and work towards exceptional results. And if you knock it out of the park you should be singled out in terms of recognition and reward. Great sales people are like great athletes; they become role models and inspire others to achieve great things.
To put a twist on an old cliché “too much fun and not enough work makes Jack an unproductive sales rep,” and this year as we’ve done every other year, we took advantage of having our “Top Gun” class all together to run 4-hour workshops every morning. This allowed us to leverage the collective brain trust, best practices and experiences of our team and share these learnings with the larger sales force. It’s not all fun and games! This year we picked topics that are critical to our success in FY 11: beating…(insert competitor’s name), lead generation, and sales productivity, amongst others.
Team building is also a key element of the program. It’s always fun to watch a group of “Type A,” highly competitive, “know-it-all” sales reps work in small groups towards a common goal. This year’s PClub challenge was a traditional Hawaiian “Outrigger Canoe” race run between 6 teams comprised of 10-12 “paddlers” (I refuse to use the word “canoeist” after what I saw). The competitive spirit was there for all to see. Some teams studied YouTube videos of experienced Hawaiian Outrigger canoeists (an appropriate use of the word) until the wee hours in the hope of gaining an advantage. Others attempted to distract the other teams with “trash talk.” Some apparently attempted to bribe the professional canoe pilots to give them an unfair advantage in the race. Not necessarily the kind of behavior you want your kids to observe, but that’s why PClub is an adult-only event!
Another highlight of the week was an “unplugged” concert under the stars by legendary rock band Foreigner. For all us forty-somethings this was a night to reminisce about those B.C. days (you know, before children) in the 80’s when your favorite rock stars had “big hair” and wore spandex pants (no, I never did). They played acoustic versions of classics such as “Hot Blooded,” “Dirty White Boy,” and “I want to know what love is.” Great stuff!
Everyone headed home on Sunday, hopefully with memories of a great event and ready to spread the word that extraordinary achievement in sales leads to extraordinary rewards.