How to Set Up an Effective Adoption Plan Around Your Sales Kickoff
Categories: Sales Kickoff
No doubt this year has you rethinking your sales kickoff “event”. We’re working with many sales leaders right now who are considering shifting their SKOs and instead, launching broader sales transformations aimed at improving sales performance. They’re investing what would be travel and entertainment budgets into strategic sales training engagements they can launch virtually, with the goal of enabling their sales teams to be able to execute against the company’s overall strategic goals.
This shift demands sales leaders view the SKO not as an event, but rather part of an initiative that will drive measurable results and lasting impact. The key to making a sales initiative stick, particularly in a virtual environment, is to have a plan for result-driven adoption and reinforcement. What happens after the SKO? What is the plan to reinforce any new methodologies, processes, content or tools throughout the year? Often, what happens after the so-called training is almost more important than what happens in the actual delivery of the training. Here are a couple of best practices we encourage our clients to put forth, when launching a sales initiative tied to a sales kickoff event.
Have a Ready-to-launch Adoption Plan that Sets the Precedent
Before the sales transformation training is even in motion, you’ve got to think about what happens after it. There needs to be a plan for how your sales organization will drive on-going adoption, provide support to reps and new hires, measure success, and course correct as needed. The more you can define the plan for adoption on the front end, the better you’ll be able to equip your sales teams for success on the back end, long after the training event is over.
Prepare your plan for on-going adoption in accordance with developing your strategic sales initiative. You’ll be best prepared to drive immediate and consistent results from your initiative if you’ve got a ready-to-launch adoption plan prepared that will set measurable benchmarks for your sales teams and emphasize the priority of the initiative.
In our engagements, we help sales leaders think through the five key adoption concepts to ensure the longevity of their strategic sales transformations:
1. Ensure your sales teams see this initiative as a permanent priority
When the entire sales organization understands the priority of the strategic sales transformation and how it benefits them, they’ll be far more likely to use new methodologies, processes or content indefinitely. The priority of the initiative must be communicated and sustained through leadership. At the start of and throughout your training engagement, articulate your mission and vision for the longevity of the sales initiative and how sales teams will be held accountable to (and supported in) drafting new concepts into their day-to-day sales activities. From there, sales leaders must lead from the front by continually setting a good example for their sales organization. Here are a few ways you can lead by example:
- Use new language and concepts outlined in the sales transformation in forecasting calls, deal reviews and in communications shared within the entire company (not just the sales organization), including emails, Zoom meetings, announcements, etc.
- Set benchmarks for yourself to demonstrate how you’re also applying new methodologies, content and tools to your everyday roles and responsibilities
Find ways to further solve sales execution challenges for your sales teams through additional enhancements to your sales initiative. For example, if you’re implementing a sales messaging initiative, consider complementing it a year on with a correlating deal qualification or value negotiation initiative to further drive sales performance and growth.
2. Ensure relevancy
Relevant and immediately usable content, tools and processes are key to driving the longevity of a strategic sales initiative. A sales transformation initiative is often a big mindset-shift for your sales teams. Like any sales organization, your sales reps and managers are focused on hitting their numbers, your sales transformation will help them do that, but they may just think of it as “just another training that’s wasting their time”.
Help them make the shift, by first showing them how the strategic training engagement and immediately usable deliverables from the event are relevant to their everyday responsibilities, sales activities and live opportunities.
Relevancy is one reason why it’s critical that sales leaders consider their adoption plan while they lay the groundwork for a sales transformation launch event. As you outline the goal of the initiative, beyond the event, ensure you or your leadership team:
- Articulate the benefits your sales teams will get from participating in the event, as they relate to their specific goals, jobs and responsibilities
- Tailor the training and deliverables of the strategic sales engagement to be relevant to industry trends and live opportunities your sales teams work on (and how they work on them!)
- Consider how to tailor any tools and content to different sales roles
- Develop relevant and immediately usable content and tools to support your sales teams in applying new concepts or methodologies to live opportunities
- Find any additional gaps in your sales team’s ability to execute new methodologies or process and fill them with practical tools, content and supporting resources to ensure they can follow through
3. Make integration essential
To ensure the longevity of your initiative, consider how new methodologies, content, tools and processes integrate into the baseline curriculum or internal sales structure your teams currently use to move deals forward. Integration also includes expanding the footprint of the transformational initiative, to ensure new language or tools include other organizations in the company (e.g., Marketing, Product Development). Ensure your transformation integrates effectively into your organization by:
- Developing your initiative around the strategic direction of the company in a way that drafts into your existence sales processes, structure and systems
- Getting executive alignment on your sales strategy to ensure it will integrate key marketing and product considerations, as they relate to your sales teams
- Sharing custom deliverables with all of your customer-facing organizations (SDR/BDRs, Marketing, Customer Success, etc.) to get your entire organization aligned on new go-to-market messaging and/or buying processes. The integrated deliverables should be tailored to the specific role (e.g., BDRs need different tools than direct reps)
4. Define the measurement
Putting a focus on the practical and measurable results of the sales initiative ensures that sales teams know what’s expected of them throughout the rest of the year and beyond. Measurable benchmarks ensure the results of the strategic sales initiative are tied to the key performance indicators of the sales organization. It’s helpful to create benchmarks that coincide with 30/60/90 day check-ins and/or a management cadence for deal reviews and coaching sessions. Having a cadence for check ins will hold managers accountable for providing intentional support to:
- Ensure reps have what they need to continue to drive impactful results
- Course correct rep performance to help them change deals at risk into high-value opportunities
- Consistently support reps in performing the high-value sales activities that will enable them to hit their benchmarks and quotas
5. Enable managers to achieve results through on-going reinforcement
Reinforcement is achieved primarily through the behavior of front-line managers, this is why we often say managers have one of the most difficult and important positions within a sales organization. Managers work with their sales reps on the front line, which means they will drive the biggest impact in the reinforcement of your sales initiative. They will be the first to hold your reps accountable for using new tools and methodologies to live opportunities, and they’re your reps first line of support when they’re struggling to apply a critical concept to their deals in a way that moves them forward at a high value.
Ensuring your managers are experts in new sales processes or methodologies, and enabling them to be valuable coaches should be one of your first priorities when it comes to reinforcing your sales initiative. Here are a few ways you can enable your managers to drive the longevity of your broader sales transformation:
- Gain widespread management involvement throughout the initiative
- Ensure sales managers lead by example by using new concepts themselves, speaking a common sales language and managing via common processes
- Provide sales managers with “coaching playbooks” that define desired behaviors to be inspected and red flags to remediate
- Help managers implement a management cadence that helps them support every seller on their sales team on a consistent basis
Define Your Opportunity to Permanently Solve Sales Execution Problems
Although the SKO will undoubtedly look different this year, it’s your biggest opportunity to launch a strategic sales transformation that permanently solves your largest sales execution challenges. It’s your biggest opportunity to invest in your sales team’s success and get the most from your top sellers next year.
Learn more about how you can launch your defined sales initiatives, virtually and achieve you (and your company’s) desired outcomes.