One of the biggest initiatives I wanted to take on when I first arrived at Maryville in August 2017 was making sure we started to build a culture similar to the downtown headquarters of Abstrakt, while also beginning to tell our own story!
At the internship, our doors are always revolving. Every single day we have a different team of students working, and during each day we have interns coming and going for their shifts. Each day is based on their school schedules, so when they have availability between classes they’re able to come in for a shift and get on the phones!
This was one of the biggest learning curves for me when I came to run the internship. I knew to grow production at Maryville, we would have to recruit enough students and get them bought in to actually want to work a lot of hours in order to fill up the room to capacity.
A hurdle we will always have is the 10 workstations we use. There could always be gaps on some hours because it doesn’t fit in with any student’s schedule or more than 10 of them might be available to work at one time. We’ve gotten creative with the room and started to use space on the tables for our Data Team, so that frees up more workstations for those dialing!
I think the biggest thing that myself and my PPM Bryant Webster would say we’re proud of in the last seven months is how the culture of the room and the team bonding has progressed and therefore only continued to increase our production as a team. When I first got out there hitting 150 in my second month there was a huge deal to them-they had never consistently produced anything above 150. We gradually were able to hit 200 a couple of times, but the turning point came when Bryant Webster was able to join on as an assistant manager when he graduated and continue helping the internship grow! The new hires that started in May were a pivotal part of helping the team bond and become a high producing, consistent team! One of the summer months we had hit 200 two months in a row, but walked into the last day of the month around 22 appointments short of 200 and everybody laughed a little when I said and sent an email out that we were going to hit it. 33 appointments later (record-breaking day for them) we had surpassed the 200 mark and they had proven they could do anything! The energy, noise level, camaraderie and encouragement that day in the room was unbeatable and probably my proudest and best moment with Abstrakt.
Our days are measured by the same four blocks of the day with huddles in between, but we also have to look at the metrics more granularly hour by hour because of the nature of our schedules. Most of the room will be in between 7:45 and 8 to get the day started. We do have one full-time intern who has worked his school schedule around working full time for us as an intern and so he starts his day at 7 a.m. to make sure all of his hours are in! The room loves to come in and see Zac has already put up 1-2 appointments for the day!
We try and mirror a lot of the same daily culture in our room with our decorations, the daily music playing, huddles and appointment celebrations. Every few months either the celebration sticks or “noise” we use will change up based on what the team wants or decides. We had pool noodles over the summer to wave as our celebration sticks and currently we have our own mini gong to mirror the sales department and every rep hits it when they get an appointment and the room shouts, “Oohh-wee!”
The close proximity in the room can be a blessing and our biggest hindrance. When the room is full, the noise level is high which is awesome for productivity but can interrupt pitches at points so everyone has to learn to deal with that and overcome it. The amount of questions that are asked throughout the day are always at a high level also. The thing I love the most about this role and team is that they are hungry to learn about sales, Abstrakt and daily what they can do to improve. We want to start teaching them independence before they graduate so they can problem solve on their own, but we also want to be there to coach them and answer any questions they truly don’t know!
I hope that more people realize that we are our own mini Abstrakt out at Maryville and we still have the same hum of pitches happening by the minute, the celebrations and the team building that downtown has and we cannot wait for the chance to continue to hit goals and grow this program that truly offers the most unique sales internship experience in the country to college students.