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Sales Bingo with Lindsay Lehane

Sales and acquisition veteran Lindsay Lehane talks us through the spontaneous and hilarious game of Sales Bingo. We learn how she makes work feel fun and safe even in times of uncertainty.

You can find Lindsay online at

Episode Transcript

Andrew Phelps: My guest today is Lindsay Lehane. Lindsay has 16 years in sales leadership at companies like Thompson, eInstruction, LinkedIn, and many startups. She's led teams of two and teams of 22 going from 1 million to $180 million per year in revenue. She's led through seven different acquisitions in her career and specializes in keeping people focused and motivated through tough times of uncertainty. She now owns a sales consultancy, helping startups build their teams and accelerate their revenue growth. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Lindsay Lehane: Hi Andrew. Thanks so much for having me.

Andrew Phelps: So, you have led sales teams for over 16 years and over that time, kind of bravely fronted seven different acquisitions. Can you tell me a little bit?

Lindsay Lehane: Yeah, I joke with companies, if they want to get purchased, hire me because it seems to happen within six months of bringing me on board and you know, that can be a time of stress. That can be a time of uncertainty. And it's one of those skills that you build on the accident because you're going through it, but it really helped me to keep team together, keep people focused on what matters, which isn't the drama or the ideas of what's going to happen next. It's just about no matter what happens through these acquisitions, through joining a new company and being a part of a bigger organization, we still got to sell. So, let's sell. And big hallmark of that is trying to make work fun and trying to keep people excited to come to work when they're not sure what's going on around them. Does that make sense?

Andrew Phelps: Absolutely. I'm guessing you're going to say something about games and that's why we have you here today, but besides games, you know, what would you, what sort of tips would you give to managers who are trying to manage through an acquisition right now?

Lindsay Lehane: That is a great question. You know, I think one of the biggest pieces is transparency and probably the most important. The reason people feel uncertain or scared, right? The FUD, the fear uncertainty and doubt, is because they feel like there are people somewhere in a room making decisions that will affect their lives and they don't know how those decisions are made or they don't know what's going to happen to them. And so the more you can share as a sales leader, you know, what you're allowed to share, but the more you can just be honest and empathetic and transparent about their experience, the better people are going to feel on the more likely they're going to trust you that you're going to get through this.

Andrew Phelps: Transparency, honesty. I love it. And those are themes that we hear over and over again on this podcast and with the sales managers, we talked to, you know, it's almost like human beings, like being treated like human beings.

Lindsay Lehane: Crazy.

Andrew Phelps: Who would have guessed. Right? Well, we're so glad to have you here today. And I love that you said that fun is an important aspect of keeping people unified and keeping the eye on the ball. So, I'd love to hear a little bit about just when you've got your first taste of playing games at work and you know, what got you hooked on the idea?

Lindsay Lehane: Yeah. I love that question. My first job was in an inside sales team and, you know, we all know it's a slog. It can be difficult to come in and get motivated and excited to make 50, a hundred dials a day. You have two hours of talk time, and I was lucky enough to have some really good leaders that knew that that was, you know, a difficult job to have. And so, let's try to make it a little bit fun. Let's make it competitive and have it not just been about, I have to hit these goals and there's a game involved in it. And that competitive nature that we have, especially when we're new in our career and maybe I'm not at the top of the leaderboard, but I can win a game. I can do that. So, I was lucky enough to have leaders that kind of built that into the daily work.

Andrew Phelps: Very cool. Yeah. I think that the importance of having, I don't know what the right term for it is, but multilevel goals, right? The short term and the long term and things that stretch across your day, because you can't always hit those revenue numbers. You can't always hit those dial goals, but maybe you can hit another goal that keeps you going and helps you feel the momentum of the day. Even if you're not having the best luck. So, we invited you here to talk about your favorite sales game. Would you help us out and let us know what it's called and how you play?

Lindsay Lehane: Absolutely. I'm so excited to be here and talk about it. So, my favorite game to play is bingo.

Andrew Phelps: Bingo.

Lindsay Lehane: Sales bingo, yeah. I think there are a couple of reasons why I love it. The first one is it's a really easy thing to just throw out there on a Friday for an hour or two to you know, that post lunch, I just ate the sandwich. I'm not feeling incredibly motivated. I'm thinking about my weekend kind of thing, to help push people, to get some extra work done and actually have fun doing it.

Andrew Phelps: So, I played bingo, the old-fashioned way in a hall with a bunch of, you know elderly people. But what's the sales game version?

Lindsay Lehane: Sales game version. You know, there are a lot of different versions of that are online people can download. I really like to make it silly, but goal oriented. So, I guess I can start with the rules that I set up for people, which is, I like games that you can't cheat at. And if you just somebody a card and tell them, they've got to make 15 dials and they've got to schedule a meeting and these kinds of things, I could mark all those off and yell bingo. And you might not necessarily know that I did it. So, the first rule is when it's anything, I guess I can explain the card too, but you have to have a witness to you're checking off of that box. So, you what's great about that is you've got buddies around you. You've got to raise your hand if you're on the phone and they have to look over and they have to vouch that you actually said something crazy to your customer, or you really left a voicemail saying this, or you really did schedule a meeting and you've got somebody there. And now that competition with you and your cube mates or office mates everybody's involved in it. Does that make sense?

Andrew Phelps: Yeah. And I love that too, because so many of us you know, throughout the day we are in the zone, if something we're doing every day, it becomes part of our subconscious routine. But what you're not doing every day is listening to your coworkers and making sure that you're keeping accurate score. So, it's making people more present and getting every person involved, you know, on a competitive level and a fact checking level, but also just in presence and enjoying the tasks.

Lindsay Lehane: Yeah, not at all a hundred percent. You know, I think it's important to have those goals on there. These are the things that I need to do today, but I like to throw things in there. Like one of my favorites is saying, you know, this experience or my product is more fun than a barrel of monkeys, something odd like that. But if I'm in the zone and I'm talking to my customer, a lot of the times I'm saying the same thing over and over again, right? And just making the donuts. This is my pitch. This is my product. This is my demo. These are the things I do all day long, but if I suddenly have to be creative on that call, and I'm not just saying the same thing over and over again, I raised my hand in somebody around me, you know, does the Groundhog and looks up from their cube and they hear me say Lander, here's what I think you're going to say after I do this demo, the product, you're going to say your products, you know, more fun than a barrel of monkeys. And now everybody around me heard me say it. I feel jazzed because somebody laughing next to me and you know, we're all in it together. And now you, as my colleague are trying to figure out how you're going to say that to your client too next, because you know that I'm getting close to that bingo mark, whether it's, you know, the X or the playing bingo or whatever it is.

Andrew Phelps: Yeah. I love that. And it's great because it embraces different personality types. Right? You might have a Jenny who's just a fantastic closer, and I'm never going to out close Jenny, but maybe I can sneak in more funny things than she can today and you know, now my personality is on display, you know amongst the team rather than just Jenny always closing the deals.

Lindsay Lehane: Totally. You're absolutely right in with that too. What I love about this game, not just that it's so quick and easy to just, you know, do it out of the blue to surprise routine, but Jenny who's been there for a and a half and is so good and is always number one or number two. If we do a long rolling game, one that's a month long or a quarter long. A lot of times if I'm new or if I'm struggling, I'm always at the middle of the leaderboard. I know Jenny's going to win that contest. Right? I know she's going to get the trip to Hawaii or that... I actually was part of a team once when the gateway an actual gold bar, which was pretty crazy and cool. But I know I don't have a chance, right? So, I'm not really, I don't even look at that contest or that game as something that I can play or I can win at. But if it's just, I have two hours to do some bingo, wow. I've only been here a month, but I can win this. I can do this. And it doesn't matter that Jenny's number one, it matters because that I can do one thing and I can win this one thing.

Andrew Phelps: Absolutely. So, to get a little bit back to the specifics, I've got a bingo board, it's filled out with things I have to do. I can't check anything off unless one of my peers has acknowledged that I did in fact do it and then when I get five in a row, I can call out bingo and win the prize. So, we have some funny things on there. Like this product is better than a barrel of monkeys. How would you break down kind of the split between funny boxes versus, you know, more practical ones? Like I left a voicemail.

Lindsay Lehane: Yeah. Frankly it depends on my mood for the day. I've done them where everything is just funny because maybe, you know, top going back to the acquisition thing, maybe we're all feeling really stressed. So, we're going to say a whole bunch of wacky stuff on the phone and just feel like we did something silly today. Other days we've got to get stuff done. It's towards the end of the quarter, I need to send out a quote. I need to call and follow up and find out why that PO isn't in things like that. You have your own ability to do that. My only recommendation is that it not just be about work stuff because people have to do that anyway. And you have somebody really creative who gets through that first line of bingo quickly. Great. Maybe the first prize is you get a $50 gift card for the first line of bingo, but once you get the X on the bingo board, now I've got, you know, a free Friday off. If I've got a full blackout, I get, you know, five things. So, you can make it so that it's not just immediately over, you can make it so that anyone that gets a bingo will win the same prize. So, it's not a winner take all, right? There's a bigger pot in there, there's a lot of options that you have as you're thinking about this and that creativity is great.

Andrew Phelps: Awesome. So, it's really up to you how silly you want to get. You can probably split right down the middle the first time you're trying it out. You know, one of the issues we see with the most effective games is sales managers will say, wow, that was awesome. And then, you know, they kind of lean on it as a crutch to keep things interesting. So how often do you think, you know, someone should play bingo or when would it be appropriate to introduce it? I mean, obviously if it's a new board each time you could do it more often but what would you say is kind of a good cadence to introduce it to your team on that Friday afternoon?

Lindsay Lehane: That's a great question. You know, I'll tell you the first time I did this it's because one of my sales managers said they knew I was kind of bad, but I liked the fun stuff. It motivated me. And so, they, asked me to build the board. So, I would challenge people if you're not feeling that creative today, but you want to do something fun. Find that one team member who you know loves stuff like this and challenge them with making it. And, you know, once a quarter towards the end of the quarter was usually how I would do it, but it was really surprising how many teams that I've had the privilege of leading, where somebody would come to me and be like, Hey Lindsay, we should play bingo today. And we maybe have done it two weeks ago, but they really thought the team needs a little pick me up or we're feeling a little down. Can we do bingo today? And so, you know, I definitely wouldn't do it every week and have it been something people are expecting, but I would listen to your team on their motivation and on how successful it was the first time around.

Andrew Phelps: That's awesome. And that's the kind of feedback we're all looking for from our teams, right. Is, Hey, can we please do this? It's like, Whoa, I guess I'm doing something right.

Lindsay Lehane: Yeah, for real.

Andrew Phelps: Well, that is awesome. I also love the idea. You know, the fact that someone came to you to make the board, you could almost make one of the prizes. You know, if you win, you know, the ultimate blackout, you get to design the board next month or something like that could be fun depending on who wins.

Lindsay Lehane: I think it's a great idea. Actually. I never thought of that. I think yeah. Having for the people that have that creative energy and want to do something like that I think that would be extra motivating, right. Or they get to, I guess its kind of the silly thing also where they get to choose who has to make it next time. Right? And so, they are pulling in people around them who maybe are a little more shy or, you know, it gives them an ability to have a collaborative situation with their teammates. You know, us three people are going to do it together next time and Lindsay, we made this one can you check it out and make sure it's okay and, you know, go from there.

Andrew Phelps: And there's all those, you know, all those kinds of dynamics of healthy tension. And so, if you let someone call out the shy person to make the board, you're going to learn so much about them and in, you know, one, two-hour session of bingo, which is really fun. I love that idea.

Lindsay Lehane: Yeah. It's great. And people, your teams will surprise you. You know, one of the things about sales games that I love so much is managers often feel like this pressure to come up with the great thing, right? I love this podcast for that reason. You're helping them be creative, but I'll tell you that I Rose to those occasions when I hadn't had a chance be a leader yet when I'm still on the phone, slogging it in a headset, you know, and one of my bosses came to me and said, what should we do next Friday? It felt like I was important. It felt like they cared about my voice, even if it was for something, you know, team building and silly. And I took that really seriously. You know, it's not always on the manager to do that. It's about you getting your team members a chance to sharing.

Andrew Phelps: Yeah. I think that actually goes back to where we started the conversation, which is, you know, you treat your employees and your teammates with respect like human beings. And guess what they're human beings would like to be respected. They want to give that respect back. They want to be invested. And we really missed the mark when we look at employees as a human resource and not people that are there to help us out. And, you know, in my experience, roles are much blurrier than we'd like to think they are. And when you embrace that blur you know; amazing things happen because people love to contribute at every level.

Lindsay Lehane: Yeah, I agree. My, my number one rule of leadership is the campground rule, which is you leave people better off than how you found them. I was lucky enough to have mentors who did that for me. And even with things like building a sales game, they gave me a chance to step up and to learn what it takes to motivate people around you. And that is the most important thing in the world is just help people be better. You want them to look back and go, wow, I wouldn't know X without having Andrew as my boss, or I wouldn't be in this leadership job if somebody hadn't given me the chance to step up and show that I'm good, and then I can be better and I can learn.

Andrew Phelps: This has been a fantastic conversation. So much more than just a fun game to play on Friday. I'm going to recap what I think are the big takeaways and you can correct me if I'm wrong. So, we have all kinds of different games. This is a very short game one, that's just one to two hours and the other thing that I really love about is that it's spontaneous. Spontaneity is huge, especially in big organizations where everything is planned and nothing is a surprise. So, I love the spontaneous aspect of it. I love that it's short term one to two hours because you're giving an opportunity to the teammates who aren't in a good position to win those day long week long or quarter long contests. I really like that. We're thinking about cheating. We see this all the time. People are always trying to cut corners and the best thing you can do is get people to play honestly, and build all those fun interactions amongst the team, even when they're kind of alone on the phones with the potential customers. So, I love short. I love spontaneous and I love the accountability. Is there anything else you would add about, you know, why bingo is so effective or why it's your favorite game?

Lindsay Lehane: I think that was a great wrap. I think the other part is that it actually does build your team, that you have to have that accountability with people next to you. So, where you would like you were saying where you would normally just keep your head down and keep dialing. Now you've got to stand up. You have to listen to your teammates and actually hear how they're pitching in real time.

Andrew Phelps: Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your game. I'm really excited to try this one out.

Lindsay Lehane: I really appreciate you having me and for the opportunity.

Andrew Phelps: So, if people want to find you online, reach out, what's the best way to find you.

Lindsay Lehane: I work with sales teams all over the country and I have a consultancy here based in Phoenix. They can reach out by going to sell, S E L L S K Y W A R And I'd love to talk to them about how to, you know, implement games like this and other fun ones as well.

Andrew Phelps: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Lindsay Lehane: Thanks for having me here.