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A strong, high-performance sales team is critical to a successful business. But what makes a sales team truly great, and what strategies can leaders use to create a team that's highly successful? To address these questions, we're talking to CROs and sales executives about "How To Turn a Good Sales Team into a Great One." As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Hernandez.

Jessica Hernandez

Jessica Hernandez has been a pillar of Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas’ success since 2014. In her role as Director of Sales and Events, Jessica oversees the entire Sales & Events Team and is responsible for the growth of the department and overall sales revenue annually, in addition to providing support for all four Brooklyn Bowl locations nationwide.


An undeniable powerhouse in sales & events, she has brought some of the hottest artists– like Kendrick Lamar, Blink 182, Beck, Gunna, and Chase Rice- to perform for major corporations at The Bowl including NFL, UFC, Allegiant Air, eBay and Google. Her expertise has proven to be invaluable in the development and execution of one-of-a-kind bespoke events within the Bowl’s transformative spaces.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we begin, can you tell us your 'backstory' and what brought you to this career path?

I was born and raised in Southern California. I entered the workforce at an early age, starting as a Hostess at Harbor House Café in Dana Point, CA. At the age of 15, I didn’t have a real direction—I just knew that I loved connecting with people and creating memories. I worked in multiple places before eventually landing at a corporate restaurant chain where I worked my way up from server to bartender and eventually a corporate restaurant trainer. It was there where I got my first taste of traveling and opening restaurants, making many new connections along the way. 

Eventually, I decided to move to the East Coast and found a position with Margaritaville in Orlando, Florida for seven years. Feeling homesick and looking to reconnect with my West Coast roots, I took an opportunity to open up the Las Vegas Margaritaville and traveled across the country with over 20 employees. 

After five years, I was blessed to give birth to my beautiful baby girl, Madison Rae. Following her birth, I decided to take a break and become a stay-at-home mom for about two years. Although I loved being at home with her, I missed the workforce, so I decided to take a position as a server at Hard Rock Café on the Strip. While the flexible hours allowed me to take care of my daughter, I knew that I was ready for a career change.

I was offered a job as a Sales Coordinator at Hard Rock where I started diving into the world of hospitality sales, working my way to become Logistics Manager before moving into sales at Brooklyn Bowl. Leadership was never my goal, but here I am, leading one of the most successful teams in Las Vegas. Pinch me!

Can you share an interesting or amusing story that has occurred to you in your career so far? What was the lesson or takeaway?

So many! However, one that sticks out the most was one of my first Summer League Events at Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas. As I was getting ready to leave the office, one of my team members came in and told me there was a group of people interested in building a ½ size basketball court on our stage. Coming from the entertainment and events space in Vegas, we get our fair share of crazy requests, so I didn’t think much of it. After meeting with group and introducing myself, I was bombarded with what I thought were unrealistic ideas. I distinctly remember stopping everyone and recommending a meeting the next morning to discuss what we could do. I gave them my business card and went home for the night with the no real expectation of them showing back up. To my surprise, they did, and we put all the ideas on paper. 

We ended up building a ½ size basketball court off our stage and craned in a full-size basketball hoop over our patio to create one of the most amazing events I’ve ever been a part of. I learned a valuable lesson that day: You never know who you’re in a room with or what’s possible. With good connections and trust, you can create some amazing things. The Jordan First to Fly Event will ALWAYS be the feather in my cap.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? Tell us about it!

While there is nothing I can announce quite yet… we are continuing to bring world-class entertainment and special events to the Bowl. We continue to work with such major corporations like Jordan, eBay, Facebook, NFL, NBA and more to create memorable, once-in-a-lifetime events and we are excited to break more records and get more creative in 2023.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you're grateful for?

My mother has always been my biggest fan and I’m forever grateful for her support. Professionally, I would not be where I am without the help of Erin Ward. Erin saw something in me and took a chance on me. She was the one who offered me the job as a Sales Coordinator at Hard Rock Café. Despite my hesitation and lack of confidence in the beginning, Erin’s guidance allowed me to excel in my position, even leading to my promotion as a Logistics Manager. Through her, I found direction and found myself connecting with people on a larger scale and creating amazing events for large clients. I was in my dream job and I was happy.

In 2014, Erin and I were working in the media room for the Country Music Awards and I noticed that she was acting a little different. She revealed that she would be leaving Hard Rock and moving over to the hottest new venue in Vegas, Brooklyn Bowl. I was in complete shock and asked why she would leave the Hard Rock to work at a bowling alley that serves fried chicken. She responded with “You have to come see the space and I can build my team.”

Then and there, I knew that this was another opportunity that I could not pass up. I followed Erin to Brooklyn Bowl in 2014, joining the team as a Sales and Events Manager. Erin has since left Brooklyn Bowl, but she continues to be a mentor. Even now, through every decision I face with my team, I always try to think about what Erin would do.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience leading sales teams? How many years of experience do you have, and what size teams?

I began my career in sales & events at the Hard Rock Café on the Las Vegas Strip, where I spent four years are an Event Services Manager before I made the move to join Brooklyn Bowl as a Sales & Events Manger in 2014. Since then, I moved my way into a management role in 2017 as a Senior Sales & Events Manager where I personally produced over $4 million in annual sales. Since April 2018, I was promoted to Director of Sales & Events at Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas. In my current role I oversee a Sales & Events team of five and drive the department's overall growth and annual sales revenue.

What do you think makes a sales team great? What strengths or characteristics do you try to cultivate?

In so many sales teams, you see the cutthroat, competitive side of people. I think that mindset is counterproductive at best. I look for team players, self-starters and people who aren’t afraid to say “YES.” I try to make sure the entire team is full of organized, motivated people who can create good connections.

As with any department, there can be a lot of different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. How do you manage such diversity on an individual basis? Is there such a thing as a blanket motivator?

I do think there is a blanket motivator. Successful teams have the same end goal, but how they get there is always different. Being patient and allowing your team to manage their own tasks without micromanaging has proven really valuable. Not everyone can be managed the same way. Some people are open to feedback, others get defensive.

I think the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment is a really good tool for diverse workstyles. It gives you the ability to learn how everybody works and what the best factor for their success is. People may come with past experiences that they have to move past like bad bosses, unhealthy work environments and the like. Understanding your team members is crucial to the overall success of the team.

What strategies have you tried to increase motivation, engagement, and productivity? We want to hear it all!

Like all sales teams, we are very number driven, so we have a goal board to gauge the team’s annual progress. We try to keep every sale interesting, so we have a bell that we ring every time someone closes a deal. We also have sage in the office to keep the positivity flowing. 

As a leader in the post-pandemic world, I have become even more mindful of work-life balance. Instead of coming into the office every day, I’ve created a hybrid work schedule for the team so they have some flexibility. I believe having schedule flexibility and work-life balance can be a huge driver in motivation. Although, if that doesn’t help, In n Out is just next door!  We try to engage with each other through our culture. We are all our biggest cheerleaders and we lean on each other to get through the day. I try to encourage my team to take on a lifelong learning mindset so that we are always working efficiently and on the cutting edge. 

Of all the strategies you've tried, which did you find to be most effective?

People ask me this all the time. My strategy comes down to creating powerful connections with your clients and teammates. In the constant hustle and bustle of today, we need to slow down and get to know our clients and their needs. Take the time to look them up, learn about them and their accomplishments and have genuine conversations with them. You (Sales Manager) are the strategy. 

Can you tell us about a time that your sales team outperformed their targets? How high over did they go, and what was that like for everyone?

2022 was our first full year following the unprecedented events during the pandemic. I had a brand-new team that was still learning the ropes and I didn’t know what to expect. However, thoughts of uneasiness and doubt quickly disappeared when my team ended the year with $1.2M over our annual company sales goal. Rather indulging in the cutthroat, individualist sales culture, one of the defining characteristics that sets us apart is the fact that we are commissioned as a team. The Sales Managers and their teammates’ success are inextricably linked. We are always there to offer a helping hand whenever possible, which is one of the biggest reasons why we are so successful.

Great things often take time. What do you think is a realistic timeline to take a sales team from good to great? 

I was told early on in my career that you can teach anyone to do a job, but you can’t teach personality and work ethic. With great leadership and a dedicated team of the passionate and driven people, you could have a great sales team in six months if you invest in them. 

Based on your experience, what are the five strategies that will help turn a good sales team into a great one?

1. Lead your team vs manage your team: There is a major difference between a leader and a boss. I love the saying “A boss manages their employees, while a leader inspires them to innovate, think creatively and strive for perfection.”

2. Create a culture of trust: With trust, anything is possible. As I’ve grown my team, I realized there are so many ways to accomplish success. Trusting your team to bring in new ideas and try new things will help continue to set your team apart from the rest. Accountability is key in any successful team. As a leader, you must know that you are holding yourself accountable and setting an example for the rest of the team.

3. Understanding: Everyone operates differently. A few years ago, we were having some internal issues with communication with no solution in sight. I was introduced to the Clifton Strengths Finder Assessment and made our team take this assessment as a group activity. Through the test, everyone learned more about their peers and how they worked, which really helped solve most of the issues we were having. In a way, it made us even more successful because we understood each other a little more.

4. Have Fun: Work doesn’t always have to be boring. It is so important to me that my team has fun at work. We are constantly laughing and joking. Even on our hardest days, we always find time to have fun.

5. Learn from experience: In our field, it is not easy to please everybody, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. It is extremely important to me that we take little lessons from every experience we have. How can we make the next event better? How can we handle a situation moving forward? Every experience is a chance to improve and streamline.

Lastly, if you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger!

I want to inspire leaders to listen to their team and give them a chance. Corporate organizations are so fixated on the bottom line that they forget how much goes into being successful. Invest in your people and make them feel heard. Let them come to the table with ideas. I promise it will make a difference. 

How can our readers further follow your work online? 

You can learn more about the Bowl’s upcoming shows and events at 

By Phil Gray

Philip Gray is the COO of Black and White Zebra and Founding Editor of The RevOps Team. A business renaissance man with his hands in many departmental pies, he is an advocate of centralized data management, holistic planning, and process automation. It's this love for data and all things revenue operations landed him the role as resident big brain for The RevOps Team.

With 10+ years of experience in leadership and operations in industries that include biotechnology, healthcare, logistics, and SaaS, he applies a considerable broad scope of experience in business that lets him see the big picture. An unapologetic buzzword apologist, you can often find him double clicking, drilling down, and unpacking all the things.