Are you finalizing plans for your company’s sales kickoff meeting? While your vision is likely to include inspiration, learning, recognition, and team building, often sales kickoff events don’t live up to expectations. To top it off, Gartner research finds that B2B sales reps forget 70% of the information they learn within a week of training, and 87% will forget it within a month.
How do you make your sales kickoff interesting, engaging, and ensure the content is remembered? Here are five strategies to keep in mind:
1) Shut off the Firehose
The fallacy is that people learn when we talk; however, most salespeople are experiential learners who learn by doing … and having fun helps too! Parading in subject matter experts to talk at people for three days isn’t a good investment of your sales reps’ time or your resources. A sales kickoff needs to be less of a firehose of information and more about the experience that we want our reps to have, and how they should engage with customers and prospects moving forward. Set specific goals for your sales kickoff meeting and try to figure out how to create more engaging and experiential learning by incorporating role playing, small group brainstorming, and hands-on activities.
2) Power down the Laptops
In many learning environments, people automatically sit poised at their laptops ready to type notes. But, sitting in front of a laptop invites the opportunity to respond to just one quick email, or check a news or social media site. I’d challenge you to conduct your whole sales kickoff without your sales reps opening their laptops. This makes a clear distinction between what they learn at the kickoff and everyday work duties. Worried about missing something important? Reps can check email on their phones during breaks, and key information can be sent afterwards as a follow-up.
3) Focus on How to Sell vs. What to Sell
It’s important to balance product knowledge with selling knowledge. Many companies spend so much time during a sales kickoff meeting training on new products and technology that they ignore training on sales skills. Then, executives at these same companies wonder why their salespeople are not asking more questions and establishing business credibility – not just technical credibility – with prospects. So, it is not just about teaching them what they have to sell, but how are they are going to sell it, who are they are going to sell it to, and why the prospects should care.
4) Realize that another MarTech Tool is not the Solution
Sales kickoff is also typically the time that new marketing and sales tools are introduced. The sheer number of martech tools available today is staggering and consolidation is inevitable. In fact, I’ve recently had clients tell me they have “tool fatigue.” Technology certainly has a role, but, at the end of the day, it’s about people and how they communicate. I like to remind people that sales skills do matter, communication skills do matter, and communication isn’t just presenting – it’s listening, it’s understanding, it’s empathizing, it’s relating, and it’s building rapport. Sales reps need to develop those skill sets first and foremost before implementing the next martech tool.
5) Connect to Business Value
One of the keys to value-based selling is – no matter what you sell – to translate that conversation from a technical conversation to a business conversation and make those connections with business buyers. More and more salespeople really struggle with that. Most salespeople are very comfortable talking to the technology people because they have been trained on the product and technology features. But decisions for enterprise technology purchases are now being made by the non-technology CXO, and many sales reps will fall flat on their faces because they don’t know how to talk to senior business executives. These CXO decision makers want to understand the business value of a solution, and this is why it’s imperative to include sessions on communicating business value in every sales kickoff meeting.
How does ValueSelling Associates support our clients for Sales Kickoff Meetings? It’s a great opportunity to refresh sales skills and focus on practical applications. We’ve done everything from supporting clients that are rolling out new products, services, or solutions, to coming in after they do the product training and managing engagement stimulation (a.k.a. role-plays) on how reps need to connect and deliver business value. As you plan this year’s sales kickoff, be clear on your goals and plan for engaging, experiential learning that emphasizes back-to-basics sales skills and business value.
Relevant topic? Register for our upcoming webinar on January 16th, 2020 at 10 AM Pacific: 7 Best Practices for Maximizing Performance through Sales Coaching.