There is an often overlooked component to a company's sales kickoff. In the middle of product announcements and new process rollouts, there will be a handful of people who are going to use the SKO to determine if they want to sign up for another year of selling for your company. This group often contains your top performers who have many options when it comes to companies to work for. 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 their own day-to-day challenges. In fact, as top-performers are routinely having to make up numbers for under-performing team members, they’ll be wondering what the plan is to support them. They may even be considering other options and using the SKO to confirm their choice to jump ship.
The SKO is a moment in time where you can effectively communicate what’s next for your salespeople and how your company’s goals 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 company goals. 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 teams accordingly. Take similar action and articulate both the what and thehow 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 growth plans and your aligned sales activities. Articulate what’s going to happen one month, quarter and year down the line and how sales reps and managers will be measured. Share the specific sales KPIs that are related to your company’s growth goals. Define what good will look like in each role, so reps can execute against it and managers can coach for it. If your front-line salespeople don’t see that the company, as a whole, is acting on this change, then you’ve already lost them, and their impact. Use your SKO to instill the importance of your company’s growth 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? To execute against the company growth strategy your salespeople need to know what will be expected of them on the front line. Define and communicate the fundamental skills your sales team will need to focus on, practice and execute to achieve critical sales 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 or leader in your company.
3. What’s in it for your salespeople?
How will executing the sales fundamentals aligned to the company growth strategy benefit your salespeople? Will they have the skills and capabilities they need to become top performers in your organization? Will growth lead to promotions? Or will your salespeople just be slightly better at making their quota as a result of what you roll out? If you’re asking salespeople to change their mindsets or behaviors, learn new skills, 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, one year after it ends. Show how executing your ‘ask’ will help them open up their territories, compete against new competition, significantly increase quotas or quota attainment, etc. Define what the future will look like for the sales reps and managers who execute against the new company strategy and correlating sales activities.
4. What’s your strategy to support your salespeople in making it happen?
What’s your plan to support your salespeople in executing your ‘ask’ and achieving company goals and sales KPIs? How does your SKO fit into that strategy, is it 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? What is your plan to support your sales reps and managers in reaching company benchmarks after your SKO?
Articulate how you’re going to support your sales team in succeeding 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 with the capabilities they need to go out and hit critical benchmarks. Articulate how reps will be able to leverage the resources, training and consumable content you provide to adopt new sales capabilities or execute key concepts in front of customers. Use the answers to these questions to provide the foundation for a SKO that moves the needle and aligns your sales team behind the company growth strategy. Use them as you set your SKO objectives and align your agenda accordingly.
Build a SKO that Moves the Needle
Leading up to, during and after your SKO — make sure your sales team is crystal clear on these critical concepts. Act now to lay the foundation for a strategic initiative that sets your sales organization up for success. 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.