You may have noticed that we've been publishing a lot of content recently on sales kickoffs, including an on-demand webinar, an ebook and even a Facebook Live chat about making sure your next SKO is effective. The content resonated with a lot of our blog readers and we received a slew of questions on the topic. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions. Use the answers below to help you plan a successful event.
How do you get quick buy-in/build energy with a group of skeptical people?
Your first step is to determine what has happened in your organization that has created a skeptical environment. This is the time to take a look in the mirror and pinpoint specific examples of how this skepticism could have been created. Perhaps your organization has stood up and claimed change was coming or promised great things, but there was no follow through.
If the majority of your people feel this way and you see it as a widespread issue, there may be some reality behind it. There wouldn’t be skepticism unless something happened and there is probably a good chance that it is not something they did.
There is no better way to ease the tension in the room than to apologize for mistakes in the past and let your employees know you'll try everything in your power to not make that mistake again. You've got to own the elephant in the room and not shy away from putting the objection on the table.
We stand on the belief that the skeptics in your organization can be converted. They ARE savable and even have the possibility to become your greatest supporters. It is well worth the effort to transform your skeptics into a supporters. Cynics on the other hand can't be saved. Make sure you're dealing with skeptics and not cynics. If they're cynics, make them available to the marketplace at large.
How do you prioritize items on the agenda?
Your agenda should be prioritized by the objectives and the outcomes you are trying to drive from the SKO. Everything that is presented should align directly to the overarching goals of the event. Your SKO isn’t the time for every leader to have their 30-minutes of fame with the sales team. This is the time for the appropriate leaders to present in a way that aligns with the event’s objectives.
Here are a couple things we recommend including in your agenda:
The "why" of your SKO. Don't forget to align the time appropriately to the goals.
Content that is relevant and consumable to the audience. Don't stuff ten days worth of content into two. Your agenda should reflect that.
Time for “what’s next” at the end. Everyone should be clear on what’s changing and what’s different moving forward.
A few events at night to help foster camaraderie (and to help break up the PowerPoints).
Should we plan for more or fewer presenters? What non-sales and sales supporting roles should be invited to the SKO?
This all depends on your company's goals of the event. Each presenter should have a specific role and the content should relate to the overall objective of the event. For example, if the marketing department is going to show their new campaign around subscription pricing, it should include specifically how sales can leverage that campaign. There’s no hard and fast rule for who you invite to the SKO, just keep in mind the most important thing is to evaluate the agenda, who’s speaking and determine the outcome that should come from the presentations.
How can we balance team building (aka entertainment) with learning?
It’s good to break up the widespread PowerPoints with some interaction and “fun” during the sales kickoff. You heard us talk in the webinar about not stuffing ten pounds of stuff into a five pound bag. That metaphor is also good for balancing entertainment with useful content. Ensure there is enough learning planned that the SKO helps to move the needle and change behavior. The only way you’re going to get a receptive audience is if you balance that “hard” content with some opportunity for the team to relax and enjoy their colleagues. When you look at the agenda, ask yourself:
Is this agenda driving the objective?
Are we ensuring that there isn’t too much information?
Do we have a balance of interactive group work and straight presentations?
Have we broken up the learning with some more relaxed activities?
If you can say “yes” to these questions, you’ve got the balance. Just make sure there are clear commitments-to-action (CTAs) at the end of the event. Great dinners foster great relationships and teamwork. Clear CTAs ensure you get the ROI needed on your sales kickoff event. In the Facebook Live chat, we talked about some things we've heard about companies doing to break up the event. (It's about 17 minutes in).
What is the most value for sales reps attending an SKO?
Your sales reps want to know if they can be successful in the upcoming year at your company. They’ll get the most value out of tasks and tactics that will help them sell more, faster. There’s not a salesperson out there that doesn’t want to increase his/her commissions. The most valuable part of an SKO is when there is clear and consumable content that a salesperson can use immediately creating and capturing value for his/her clients.
What is your recommended percentage of time broken down between recognition, enablement (training), and motivation?
We received a lot of these “percentage” type questions and it all comes back to what you’re trying to achieve with the event. In our Facebook Live discussion (at about 4:30), Chief Operating Officer Dave Davies suggested allocating 60% of the time on skills, 20% of the time to applied knowledge (hands-on activities) and 20% on emotion/human connection type activities. Set the objectives for the event, specific to the people in the room. Give each component the time it needs, but be sure you are allocating time to what is most important for you as a leader and for your organization.
How can we break away from "death by PowerPoint"? Also how can we accommodate the request for smaller, more intimate sessions with so many people?
PowerPoint slides can be effective, but if you do too many of them they can run together and they lose their effectiveness. The key here is to make sure you are balancing the slides with different activities. Consider how you may be able to incorporate different modalities to present the content. Things like videos or a Q&A session can all help break up the slide presentations. Another good thing to do is to assess your agenda and look for opportunities to do small group work or breakouts. Also, prior to the event, consider any pre-work opportunities that may help cut down the amount of PowerPoint content.