How to Sell a Teambuilding Event to Management


Authority is determined by position, while influence is earned through relationships. 

So, when John Maxwell says that “Leadership is influence,” the implication is that even without authority, if you are armed with the right ideas and inspiration, you can lead a team from wherever you are.

The problem is that in some circumstances, those with authority have not experienced the impact of a purposeful team building program – and they may view a day of relationship building interactions and leadership challenges as a waste of time rather than the valuable catalyst for group focus and improvement that it can be.

If you are in an organization where your management has not prioritized the need to build a cohesive culture, how do you go about convincing him/her or any decision maker of the beneficial impact that a team building event will have on team productivity?

Well, I’m glad you asked…

Have you heard the saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink?” 

That sentiment is not necessarily true. 

You CAN make sure that your horse drinks if you give him a few minutes with a salt lick and then make him run around a while before you lead him to the water trough.

If you want your horse to drink, you have to first be sure that he is thirsty!

Similarly, if you want your management to consent to scheduling a fun and impactful team building event, there is a simple step-by-step plan that you can follow to get the great results you desire. 

The following five steps will walk you through how to help your management see the many benefits that a team development event can have.

Just as every great movement begins by planting a quality seed, your success in selling the idea for a team building event begins with something very small as well.

Selling an idea or object of any kind starts with an acorn.

The word ACORN is an acronym that will remind you of five steps that can be used to lead a manager (or any customer) to your supply of water, and is almost certain to make him or her thirsty enough to drink.

The five steps are:

  1. Ascertain Needs
  2. Create Trust and Credibility
  3. Offer the Solution
  4. Respond to Objections
  5. Negotiate a Close

The first step, Ascertaining Needs, involves identifying the current situation and how it needs be improved. 

It is during this step that you would take the time to review relevant numbers and make note of your organizations metrics and measurables to paint an accurate picture of how things are and what “painful” symptoms or issues need to be addressed.

You may even conduct an informal survey.  But the first step is to define the problems that, once resolved, would lead to a better environment.  Perhaps there is low morale, or a lack of accountability, or poor communication.  

Whatever the needs, be sure to clearly pinpoint the things that need to be improved.  If there is no pain, there is no need for medicines.

The second step is to Create Trust and Credibility

George MacDonald has said that “to be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.”

Trust is a three legged stool that you build with you words and behaviors, and is the most important currency you carry in any of your relationships.

It is during the second step of the sales processes that you will want to not only build trust, but also may benefit from establishing a strong rapport and credibility. 

You build rapport when you acknowledge shared interests or traits. 

You build credibility when you offer compelling examples of past competence. 

Since I am assuming that your manager will see you as competent and credible, the examples you need to provide should show the proven and profitable impact of the team building events and engaging experiential activities you want to schedule.

Keep in mind that word choice is always essential.  Instead of change, which people are inherently afraid of, you are providing an opportunity for progress…

This will smoothly transition you into step three, which is to Offer the Solution.

Remember that, as in any sales relationship, you are a servant there to solve their problems.

Each description of the event you envision should directly relate to the “pain points” you identified in step one.  And as a good salesman, be sure to share benefits, not just features.

Yes, the challenges will be enjoyable, and you could describe some of the anticipated activities – but it is not features that convince customers to buy.  Focus instead on the benefits of the event, such as the take-aways that can be applied in your office the very next day that will boost productivity and create a more cohesive culture.

And as you paint a picture of how the event will address the issues or symptoms you listed earlier, you can offer examples of how this same antidote that you are prescribing has cured many past patients – and even offer a collection of happy client comments for the manager to read.

But ours is not a perfect world.

And while, ideally, your management would smile and automatically agree to schedule the event ideas you recommend, the harsh truth is that sometimes you may encounter doubts.

That is where step four begins.

Step four is when you Respond to Objections.

Zig Ziglar used to explain that the reasons people would refuse to buy were that they had either no need, no want, no trust, no money, or no hurry.  And most any objection you might hear will be categorized somewhere in that list.

The beauty is that, during the first three steps of this process, you will have already established a logical need, a feeling of want, and a sense of trust and credibility.

No matter what you are selling, there are always going to be more creative or unexpected objections than you can adequately prepare for… but there is one phrase that will help with most any of them.

When your manager shares an objection, share a few “F” words with him or her in return.

Let me explain…

Instead of being disagreeable, you want to maintain the rapport that you established in step two.  So be careful not to use the word “but.”

Place yourself beside your manager, not across from him or her in an adversarial fashion, and say the following:

“I know how you feel.  I felt the same way. And what I found was _________________.”

You can fill in the blank with most anything that helps to bring your manager to a new and more enlightened perspective.

Those may not have been the “F” words you expected, but they are powerful beyond compare in moving someone tactfully from a limiting belief to one that opens the door to agreement.

And it is agreement that you are seeking.

That leads us to Negotiating a Close, which is step five.

There are a number of successful closing techniques, but only one real reason – you want to build their confidence that taking action will help make their life better. 

Perhaps you could spend a moment to paint a picture of what will happen if nothing happens, and show them how allowing the problem to persist without any action would not be an acceptable choice.

Perhaps you could reiterate some of the benefits and the progress your solution will provide.

And then you want to have them agree to take action. 

An assumptive close is where you simply assume they are in agreement and ask when they would like to schedule the event (or have your product delivered, etc.).

An either / or close gives your manager two choices, such as: “would you prefer a full day or half day team building program for our next meeting?”

And if you still encounter doubts or hesitancy, simply ask them to make a small decision that can later lead to the larger one you seek, such as: “how about we just ______ right now, and see if you like how that goes?”

That’s it. 

Five easy steps – and you can secure a fun and impactful day of team building activities to improve the cohesiveness and morale in your organization!

Ascertain Needs, Create Trust and Credibility, Offer the Solution, Respond to Objections, and then Negotiate a Close.

And the beauty of the ACORN acronym is that you can use it to sell more than just team building events to your management.

We are always selling something… whether it is a product, an idea, or ourselves.

I hope this is a fun and easy tool for remembering how to be more successful selling whatever it is your situation calls for…

And even if you are not presently in need of a team building speaker or interactive event to motivate your people today, it is likely that a situation or circumstance just around the corner may require more of a focus on team culture instead of strategy alone.

As Zig Ziglar says, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Whether seeking the cooperation and assistance of a manager, or just on your own as a good teammate, I encourage you to find a way to plant a seed for your organization’s improved growth and performance every day.

I would also be honored if you chose to follow me on twitter or to connect on Facebook for additional information, quotes, and teamwork resources…

1. Ascertain Needs

  • Review their performance metrics / measurables
  • What are their “painful” symptoms and issues
  • Clarify the causes (surveys or snapshots)

2. Create Trust

  • Build rapport with common interests
  • Record and replay their responses
  • Advocate for progress, not change

3. Offer the Solution

  • List and introduce relevant benefits (not just features)
  • Seek to solve their problem, not yours
  • Vividly describe how this antidote cured previous patients

4. Respond to Objections

  • Zig’s five (no need, want, trust, money, hurry)
  • Use “feel-felt-found” and find a way
  • Start with small agreements

5. Negotiate a Close

  • Paint a picture of the problem persisting
  • Assume and ask when “best” to schedule the solution
  • Open the door for a minor decision before a major one

-sales funnel, provide small price point options

-how about we go ahead and get started with the ______, and see how that goes?

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About Sean Glaze

Sean Glaze is an author, speaker, and teambuilding facilitator who has enjoyed motivating athletes and inspiring teams for over 20 years. As a successful basketball coach, he consistently turned under-achieving programs into winners, both on and off the court, with a focus on encouraging strong relationships, clear roles, and leadership development. Knowing that ALL teams can benefit from improved communication, morale, and leadership, Sean founded and now provides fun teambuilding events and interactive speaking topics for businesses, schools, and athletic teams that want to transform their people into more productive teams!



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