Is it possible to replicate the infectious energy of the sales floor at the end of a quarter in a virtual world?
That was the challenge ZoomInfo faced as 2020 drew to a close in December, which is typically a great month for B2B sales teams. The last day of the year is especially exciting as sales leaders race to the finish line to blow through their annual quotas.
But in a year disrupted by the pandemic, we found ourselves still stuck at home after months spent physically apart.
We were determined to reproduce that buzz during our first-ever virtual company-wide live New Year’s Eve party — dubbed Henry Schuck’s New Year’s Closin’ Eve — which ultimately lasted ten productive and entertaining hours (imagine the content creation!). Here’s how we pulled it off — and how you can do it, too.
1. Breaking News: Broadcast
Sports Sales Updates Live.
Sporting bow ties and fancy formalwear, with virtual fireworks lighting up their Zoom backgrounds, our sales enablement team emceed the marathon event. The hours passed quickly thanks to the seamless blend of both serious sales talk and playful segments that kept the mood upbeat.
It was essential to keep everybody motivated to hit their number, just as if we were working alongside each other back in the office. The live portion of the event was comprised of a few key elements that gave it the feel of a sporting event.
We hired a production company, DCE Productions, to help us executive produce it. Behind the scenes, our CEO’s Chief of Staff, Jennifer Creticos, was on a walkie-talkie app helping to navigate from one segment to another. We also created a “run of show” sheet that mapped out the programming down to the minute.
We wanted to provide an experience similar to cable news, where you can tune in and quickly absorb the latest news — or leave it on in the background and enjoy a wide variety of content.
Live Wins Ticker And “Sideline” Interviews
Throughout the day, a scrolling ticker of live deal updates ran across at the bottom of the screen, celebrating wins as they rolled in from individual employees. To create the ticker, incoming DocuSign data was formatted and fed into a Google Sheet every half hour.
We also broadcast live “sideline” interviews with some of those employees, during which they explained how they pushed each deal over the goal line — and discussed lessons learned that they planned to implement in 2021.
At the top of every hour, the emcees rang a (literal) bell and checked in on a company-wide scoreboard featuring numbers that steadily increased as the night wore on. Powered by Salesforce reports, the board displayed metrics including annual recurring revenue, DocuSigns signed by new clients, and new business opportunities.
Our sales operations team created the dashboard using the data visualization tool Geckoboard. We also checked in on scoreboards for individual sales teams as people worked in real time to meet their goals. These visuals helped drive home the message that we win as a team. There is no tomorrow — get it done today.
Inside Looks at Sales Team Meetings
We tuned into stand-up meetings happening around the world on individual sales teams as they went over their playbooks for the day. Sales leaders offered real-time encouragement to send that extra email and make that extra call. They exhorted employees to send this message to clients:
Let’s make a deal so your organization can kick off the new year on the right foot.
“Use your entire team — the entire company is here to help you,” Lou Wolf, Vice President of New Business Sales, told his employees. “We will find deals at 10 p.m. tonight. I know we will.”
Real-Time Conversations with the Board of Directors
ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck and Chief Revenue Officer Chris Hays sat down with several board members for informal interviews, giving employees a front-row seat to Insightful conversations about big-picture company priorities.
2. Celebrate Last Year’s Wins & Leverage Past Content
We waded through our in-house video footage to create pre-recorded programming that offered a sweeping view of everything our company accomplished in 2020. That included a look back at the magic surrounding our successful IPO in June, along with other highlights from a challenging year.
You don’t have to create 10 hours’ worth of content to pull this off. Take advantage of your highlight reel and freshen it up with new data.
Sharing Motivating Advice from Our Leaders
We highlighted some compelling moments from all-hands meetings, including this wisdom delivered by our CEO Henry Schuck in April, a month into the pandemic, when the entire nation was gripped with fear and uncertainty:
There’s so much that’s out of our control. Schedules, kids at home, work from home, not being able to see our friends and our family. We have no control over any of those things. But what I would challenge all of you to do today is to outline what you can control. I can control how I show up every day.– Henry Schuck, ZoomInfo CEO
Showcasing Customer Testimonials
We assembled a mash-up featuring testimonials from real clients raving about our product, which was dominated by certain turns of phrase, including “freakin’ awesome!” and “this is magical” repeated ad nauseum.
Engaging with Insightful Sales Leader Roundtables
Pre-recorded interviews and roundtables showcased our business development achievements from 2020, featuring interviews with new business, account management, sales enablement, and C-suite executives.
3. Don’t Forget to Get Creative & Have Fun
It was New Year’s Eve, after all, so we obviously had to have a little fun, too. This portion of the evening turned the event into a true party and helped all of us feel closer to each other in spite of the physical miles between us.
Our Employee Showcase: Raps, Rhymes & Ridiculous Moves
The ZoomInfo family took to the virtual stage to show off our creativity, ranging from heartfelt renditions of Beatles’ songs to a downright ridiculous performance of “Marketing Manager,” an original song written by an employee that includes these iconic lyrics: “A 30-minute demo was all it took / A quick look and the CMO was shook.”
- An infomercial about what happens when pets decide to join a sales call when working from home.
- An original rap song about ZoomInfo that rivaled Michael Scott’s infamous “Straight Outta Scranton” from The Office.
- Multiple JibJab videos that superimposed the heads of company leaders onto various 90s music videos (no explanation required).
Eyes on The Prize: Contests & Games
A series of games helped lighten the mood throughout the evening: bingo boards, football squares, swag giveaways. Lauren Penney, a sales enablement manager who helped host the event, challenged employees to guess the exact time of day when we would hit certain targets, with the winner receiving a prize.
Team Milestones: From Weddings to Donation Drives
Employees shared pictures of big moments in their own lives, from weddings and visas to new babies and pets. We also spotlighted our company-wide charitable efforts, which netted $650,000 for local nonprofits in 2020.
Post-Event Review: What Did We Learn?
When it was all over, we had successfully hosted a virtual party for nearly 2,000 people that featured more than 20 speakers, 50 videos, and (probably too many) JibJab parodies.
More importantly, we brought the team together with fun, educational content, bringing the sales flow to the entire company.. When 2021 draws to a close, the pandemic will hopefully be a thing of the past.
But our virtual New Year’s Eve isn’t going anywhere. We’ll be logging on again next year — maybe with some real confetti this time.
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