The trend today is for an open work environment. The theory is that more efficient and collaborative work can happen, while also cutting down on real estate costs. Interestingly, the biggest complaint with this is not that it’s too loud, but more that it’s waaaaaay too quiet. Even the slightest noises can be distracting, so many inside salespeople are too embarrassed when it comes to prospecting. 

So what’s the best solution?

Inside salespeople still need their in-cube privacy, even when that cube is shrinking from 8×10 down to 5×5. The new smaller cubicles create more open space for group collaboration. But there’s more to cubicles than how big they are: there’s a whole new logic to where you sit and who you’re seated next to.

In-cube neighbors can have a tremendous influence on each others’ productivity and morale. Inside sales behaviors can be contagious: If someone is having an amazing day getting live calls, chances are those around them will experience the same thing. If someone is having a horrible day, that negativity can spread.

Managers need to think about cubicle hierarchy as part of their management strategy to solve problems and create momentum and motivation.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Motivate high performers: If you don’t have the budget to give that superhero sales rep a raise, give them that one cubicle with the great window and a view. Bingo!
  • Seat cube-mates for success: Put new hires next to the sales rep who has the strongest momentum, because that  behavior will be contagious. Seat your seasoned pros sit next to reps with low sales activity as a way to motivate them to get going. Move the negative team members — the ones who are resting in the “comfort zone” or the “dead zone” — next to reps who are not easily influenced by that negativity. And remember: If one team member leaves, you’ll probably have to switch everyone around.

Use your own cube wisely: If you’re like a lot of managers these days, you are also out on the floor in-cube. If you have a rep in the next cube who likes to gossip, they might be watching (and broadcasting) your every move. If you put the strongest salesperson next to you, that might send the message that only the “best reps” sit next to the manager — wrong message! Put new hires and “B” performers near you so you can hear them on the phones and know how to coach them.

About the author

Josiane Feignon

Josiane Feigon is a pioneer, maverick, and visionary in the inside sales community, and is one of the Forbes Top 30 Social Salespeople in the World. She is the author of Smart Sales Manager and the best-selling Smart Selling on the Phone and Online and the founder of TeleSmart Communications, a leader in developing inside sales teams and managers. Follow Josiane Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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