As a values-driven company, Timberland is always looking for ways to walk the walk as we talk the talk around our Earthkeepers philosophy. Of course, it’s not always easy. When it comes to community service, we often face questions from employees about how to take time out of the office to serve while staying on top of their job duties and growing the business.
That’s the task at hand for Rob Rizzotti, Director of National Accounts for Timberland’s U.S. Field Sales Team, a group of fifty-plus field-based sales reps. In this role as a Global Steward, Rob works to inform, inspire and engage the team by sharing our CSR programs and values. Chief among these values is giving back as we serve in our communities. But how do you convince a team of highly career-driven sales reps who are scattered around the country to shift gears and get out to serve?
At a December 2011 sales conference, backed by senior sales leadership, Rizzotti presented Timberland’s four CSR pillars (climate, product, factories and service), to the North America sales team. Much like Timberland’s senior management team, who supports and champions responsible business practices, Rizzotti sees service as an integral part of the sales team’s strategy for success.
“It’s not just who we are—it’s also good for business. Service strengthens relationships with retailers and business partners in a way that taking them out to lunch doesn’t,” Rizzotti says. “You see a different side of people when you’re rolling up your sleeves and working for a common cause.”
Rizzotti recognizes that the sales team has unique opportunities to engage customers, whether they’re large national retailers or small independent retailers. On a local level, service can be as simple as joining with a Timberland® retail store to gather canned goods for a food drive. For larger retailers, service reps can partner to serve charitable organizations that the account already knows, or create a new initiative. Rizzotti has also found websites like VolunteerMatch.org helpful for identifying local, established service opportunities for sales reps across the country.
Timberland’s North America sales team’s service initiatives aren’t a new idea, but an expansion of what’s been happening for years. For the past five years, Account Executive Jim Bohmer has organized a service event with Camp Cheerful, an Ohio-based camp for children and adults with disabilities. At Camp Cheerful, Timberland volunteers work side-by-side with members from our Lucky account. Lucky brings up to fifteen of their own employees, who grow as a team and grow in service with their Timberland partners.
Alongside camp volunteers, the team assists children in therapeutic horseback riding program and distributes donated boots. Rizzotti notes that this kind of engagement with accounts and partners “goes deeper than just having a good dinner—it humanizes our relationship.”
Timberland’s sales teams have also been serving in groups with their accounts for years—and even inspiring Shoe Carnival, a key Timberland account, to begin its own tradition of service. Every September 11th, a Timberland sales team serves at a school in the Bronx, commemorating the same day in 2001 when they first served at a school in that community before knowing the historic events that would unfold. In 2012, Rizzotti’s New York sales team plans to serve on Earth Day with partners from Macy’s, Nautica, North Face and Paragon Sports.
Rizzotti staunchly believes relationships are the core of the business. “I know in my heart and I’ve seen it firsthand, that when you’re serving with an account, planting flowers and trees and working with kids side-by-side, it makes a huge difference in building trust and a deeper relationship,” he says. “As a sales rep, when you do something like this, it shows what you’re made of—that you’re a person with a heart, you want to give back, and you want your business to honor that as well.”
At Timberland, we’re optimistic that this type of interaction will continue to create different conversations and new partnership opportunities – and that’s simply good business.