Getting Beyond the “Event” of the SKO
Categories: Sales Kickoff
2020 has forced many companies to make tough decisions, while constantly adjusting for benchmarks aimed at revenue recovery. As company leaders get closer to determining new revenue goals for the upcoming year, sales leaders are left with the task of finding impactful ways to align their sales organization around what’s needed to succeed.
Working in an uncertain environment, pressures of the pandemic, and an entirely remote workforce has many sales leaders thinking of more ways to motivate and focus the team. As with any yearly kickoff, aligning the entire sales organization around the strategic direction of the company should be a top priority.
Thinking Beyond the "Event"
So what should you do with this idea of a sales kickoff? We’ve always encouraged sales leaders to think beyond the “event” itself, and use it as an opportunity to shift the mindset of your salespeople, aligning them to the process, content and tools they need to succeed in the upcoming year. There’s no better time to do this shift than this year. No one is expecting the big event in Orlando or Vegas. So what will you do? Shift that travel and entertainment budget into in a broader sales initiative aimed at getting your entire sales organization up to speed and prepared to succeed in 2021.
Right now, sales leaders are moving forward with investing in strategic sales engagements and training that they can launch virtually. Done right, the switch can get companies moving faster and help them bridge critical gaps in achieving their 2021 goals. Here are a few ways elite leaders are making the shift:
Work back from the end-goal and define critical gaps (new or existing)
Whether the current economic climate brought out new sales challenges, or the economy has amplified an underlying sales execution issue, one thing is certain — these challenges won’t fix themselves. How do you determine where the specific challenge is? Consider the broader goals of your company this year. Then, determine how you as a sales organization are set up to achieve them. Consider these essential questions around key areas of sales effectiveness:
If one area had more gaps than the other, you may want to consider focusing in on that as one of the links that will help you reach your 2021 goals. Then, ensure they’re aligned to the critical concepts that will be covered during your sales kickoff training event. If you’re unsure which sales execution opportunity will drive the most return, we’ve put together a rapid sales assessment you can take to quickly determine what transformation will drive the most impact for your sales organization.
Define the Outcomes
Once you determine your gaps, define the outcomes you want participants to gain from the event. Ask yourself this: “What’s most important for sellers to know at this exact moment in time?”
The answer will help you establish and maintain team agreement on the SKO’s purpose, objectives and measurable outcomes. It will also help you define what success looks like for individual sellers, sales teams, sales leadership and the company overall. Not knowing or giving directives on what you’re trying to achieve from the SKO makes it impossible to know or measure success.
Stay committed, stay involved
All too often, leaders don’t care about the sales kick-off soon enough. They delegate it to their highly capable sales enablement team and while the event may be great, it lacks the leadership involvement that kicks off a reinforced path to success for the year. Take program content, for example. It takes careful planning and lead time to create content that aligns with both overall organizational goals and projected outcomes. On a more tactical front, not caring soon enough could look like the SKO was a thrown together Zoom event that was no different from any other team meeting you’ve held throughout the year.
Spend time picturing your ideal virtual kickoff event or sales initiative and work backward from it. Imagine you are the attendees. What does it feel like? What does the keynote sound like? What do the hands-on activities look like? Are there virtual break-out sessions? How will you structure some down time for sellers to check in with clients or simply recharge? Ask and answer these questions and then you and your planning team can begin to reverse engineer your SKP.
In our engagements, we have found that when sales leaders dedicate themselves to making the engagement both valuable to their sales teams and aligned to their company’s long term goals — they’re able to achieve their desired results from the sales initiative.
Bottom line: Don’t jeopardize your SKO by not caring soon enough. The longer you put off planning and executing, the more likely you will end up hosting the event you were barely able to pull off, instead of the event that will enable sellers to better understand and execute their jobs.
Develop a post-SKO plan:
With the event strategy outlined and your objectives clear, your virtual SKO should be a jumping off point to changed behavior that will achieve next year’s sales goals. This year, more than ever, the SKO is an opportunity to rally and train your sales organization around what’s needed to achieve the year's benchmarks and revenue goals.
These events, even virtual, will only last for a couple of days at most. That means you’re left with 50 other weeks in the year to ensure your initiative becomes ingrained into the organization and drives consistent results. As you outline your goals for the strategic sales initiative, consider what’s needed to support the on-going adoption and reinforcement of critical concepts over the rest of the year.
Don’t neglect to consider your manager’s role in your broader sales goals
Making managers a meaningful part of your sales initiative ensures that anything presented in your SKO doesn’t fall by the wayside. As you lay the groundwork for a strategic sales transformation that moves the needle, consider how manager accountability and reinforcement plays into your ultimate endgame? Do you need to incorporate manager training into the engagement? What high-level roles should they play after the event is over, and how will you monitor how well they’re driving the on-going success of the initiative?
Any changes you launch for next year will be difficult to adopt across the company without managers becoming experts in the concepts themselves. Ingraining new sales concepts and practices into your sales process and the everyday activities of your sellers takes alignment and consistency between your managers and sales reps:
- Alignment; in regards to how they’re applying new concepts to live opportunities to move them forward at a high value
- Consistency; behind how reps are held accountable for using new concepts to drive deals forward at a high value. Managers must support reps to ensure they perform high-value sales activities, consistently on every deal.
Start defining what’s next for your sales organization and invest in making it happen.
Next year’s revenue goals may seem like a hefty feat. If you’re painstakingly waiting to hit a turnaround point or have been struggling with inconsistent margins and revenue numbers since before the pandemic, use this opportunity to course correct and make it stick. Make an immediate impact in your revenue numbers by launching your strategic sales initiative virtually.