When planning a sales kickoff meeting, particularly in a virtual environment, it’s important to account for the skeptics in the room. We asked our team of facilitators what they do to minimize the impact skeptics may have. This list may help you craft a few talking points for your event.
Find the Source
Assess why people attending may be skeptical. If you have a majority of people feeling skeptical, it’s because there is some reality behind it. There wouldn’t be skepticism unless something happened. It’s probably not something they did. If this is a widespread issue, ask yourself, "Where is this coming from?". What has happened to create that skepticism?
Often times it has to do with repeat change initiatives that don't work. There wasn't discipline behind the process and a lack of follow through. If you had your team buy into change initiatives in the past, with no adoption, that may be the reason for the skepticism now.
Put it on the Table
No skeptic is going to go off mute and call out the presenter for presenting something he/she doesn't think is going to work. So as a presenter, you may want to try calling out the elephant in the room. Think about finding a creative way of doing this, like a video or a skit. Get the objections on the table. Apologize for mistakes made in the past and then let them know you are committed to not making the mistake again. It doesn't hurt to actually show the exact steps that will be different this time around.
Demonstrate the Value
A kickoff event should be focused on creating value for the people attending. The real value is for the audience. What are we doing in this event that will provide value for the people in the room? How will it make their jobs easier? How will it make them more successful? Communicate and demonstrate that value repeatedly.
When it comes to skeptics, one thing is guaranteed. You will never get their buy-in if you don't execute. If you know that your SKO will have a room full of skeptics, you have to kill it in the execution. Don't shortchange it. This event may be your only shot at getting your entire sales organization on board with what's needed to succeed.
Having skeptics isn't necessarily a bad thing. Skeptics can end up being your greatest supporters. If you're able to convert them. If you can bring them over to the new way of doing things, they'll champion your cause. Don't confuse them with cynics. Cynics can't change and won't. In the words of our own facilitators, "Make them available to the industry at large."
Use your SKO to invest in your sales team's success
Sales leaders and executives are thinking differently about their sales kickoff events this year.