Your sales talent is your only sustainable competitive advantage. In the flurry of preparing the business to face economic challenges, don't lose sight of your people. Find ways to communicate critical concepts that will drive motivation and engagement around mission-critical sales priorities. Given the current economic landscape, ensure your SKO provides the clarity your people are looking for.
The SKO is your opportunity to articulate what’s expected of your salespeople next year and how you’re going to help them get there. What you do (or don’t) say will have a large impact on your sales team’s actions after they log off or return home from your SKO.
Use the critical concepts below to provide clarity to your salespeople around what they can expect for the upcoming year. Understand what you need to communicate to them, early and often, throughout your SKO journey and afterward.
Provide Clarity on Where Your Company is Headed & How it Impacts Your Team
As a sales leader, it’s likely obvious to you how the overall company strategy will impact the sales team. Don’t assume your sales team is making that connection on their own. They’re in the flurry of working to hit their number and dealing with the day-to-day challenges of selling in a complex environment.
The SKO is a moment in time where you can effectively communicate what’s next for your salespeople and how your company’s objectives will benefit them. Use that time to articulate:
What the future looks like for your company.
What you will be asking of your salespeople.
What’s in it for your salespeople, long term.
Your plan to support your salespeople in making it happen.
You need to make sure you are making these connections clear to your salespeople. Once they understand the reason behind company shifts and how those shifts will impact their day-to-day, they'll be more likely to participate in your SKO and what you roll out to support them in achieving revenue targets. To articulate these concepts to your team, you first have to identify them yourself. Be specific by role and consider how to provide clarity around these four areas:
1. What does the future look like?
Successful sales leaders make it their job to understand not just what their company’s revenue goals are but how the company plans to get there, so they can align their sales team accordingly. Take similar action and articulate both the what and the how to your salespeople. Then, articulate leadership commitment to achieving critical company outcomes.
Are company leaders going to commit to making these strategic shifts, or will everything be back to the status quo a couple of weeks after your SKO? Your commitment will trickle down throughout your sales organization. Leave no room for ambiguity around the priority of the company’s revenue plans and your aligned sales activities.
To the best of your ability, articulate what’s going to happen one month, quarter and year after the SKO and how sales reps and managers will be measured throughout the journey. Share the specific KPIs that are related to your company’s sales goals.
Define what good will look like in each role, so reps can execute against it and managers can coach for it. Use your SKO to instill the importance of your company’s strategy and what the future must look like next year.
2. What is your ask of your salespeople?
What are you asking your salespeople to do moving forward? When preparing to sell in a challenging environment, it's imperative that your salespeople know what will be expected of them on the front line. Define what changes from last year and the plan moving forward.
Communicate the fundamental skills your sales team will need to focus on, practice and execute to achieve critical KPIs. Be very specific about them, this is your ultimate ask of your people, what you need them to commit to next year. Provide clarity around these capabilities by role, be specific and use your SKO to drive accountability around them.
Managers will have a different set of sales activities and tasks than reps and BDRs, etc. Ensure your entire sales team knows who needs to do what, when and how every action ties back to the company’s growth strategy and their own growth as a salesperson.
3. What’s in it for your salespeople?
Your salespeople will likely welcome any support you can provide, but remember, in times of change it's important to rephrase and align your team behind what's in it for them. How will executing the sales fundamentals you roll out at your SKO benefit your salespeople as they sell in the current economic landscape? Will they have the skills and capabilities they need to compete? Will results lead to promotions?
If you’re asking salespeople to change their mindsets or behaviors, learn new skills or execute a value-based sales approach—whatever it may be—you’ve got to articulate why the journey will be worth it.
During your SKO, define where your salespeople will be one month, one quarter or one year after it ends. Show how executing your ‘ask’ will help them drive demand, compete against market noise or increase their quotas, regardless of the current economic state. To the best of your ability, define what the future will look like for the sales reps and managers who execute against your mission-critical sales strategy.
4. What’s your strategy to support your salespeople in making it happen?
Define and share your plan to support your sales organization in a changing economy. Consider how next year's SKO fits into that strategy. Will your SKO be the jumping-off point to a broader sales initiative? If not, should it be or do you need to consider a strategic transformation initiative to fully equip your sales team with what’s needed to succeed?
Articulate how you’re going to support your sales team to succeed next year. Define what you’re planning to roll out to help them execute. Share how the concepts covered during your SKO and correlating activities, content and deliverables will equip your sales team to go out and hit critical benchmarks.
Provide the foundation for a SKO that moves the needle and aligns your sales team around what's needed to compete next year.
When sales leaders consider the strategy behind their SKO early, they’re better able to make an impact on its success and ROI. Use our SKO resources to drive the outcomes you need from a strategic, sales transformation initiative.