Insights on Maintaining Virtual SKO Momentum
If you launched some type of virtual sales kickoff event this year or you’re building momentum for an upcoming sales initiative, what’s your plan to reinforce it throughout the year?
Anyone who has launched a strategic sales initiative knows it’s a big effort. This year, company leaders are getting strategic with how they’re planning to maintain SKO momentum, adapting their reinforcement efforts to drive success in the increasingly remote sales environment.
A recent McKinsey whitepaper notes, "Business leaders are calling for a new kind of capability building that works in today’s virtual environments and focuses not simply on learning, but also on achieving the behavioral change that comes from the day-to-day application of new learning and skills across broad segments of the workforce.”
In the remote environment, how are you ensuring your salespeople apply new skills and execute new behaviors consistently? Here are strategies elite company leaders are implementing to drive consistent adoption and execution of their sales transformation initiatives.
Use manager coaching strategies the remote environment provides:
After the launch of a new sales program, managers should support team members in fully executing on new behaviors in a way that drives measurable sales impact. Without the right reinforcement and adoption processes, salespeople can neglect to fully execute changed behaviors, overlooking key steps, hastily completing e-learning courses, etc... Even when approaching a deal review, sellers may see the session as a time-wasted compliance check, instead of an opportunity to get valuable support and coaching from their managers that they can use to propel their deals forward. Your managers' approach to reinforcement and adoption of your sales initiative will either support consistent application on the front line, or leave your initiative to fall by the wayside.
Support your managers by helping them stay connected with reps remotely, after the roll out of your SKO initiatives. You may need to do more frequent reviews given a remote environment. Letting a month go by before you coach on new behaviors is not going to drive consistent execution of new skills and behaviors in the remote environment.
Draft in a cadence that supports your sales managers’ ability to coach on new capabilities and consistently reinforce adoption from a distance. The remote environment presents unique ways for you to make manager coaching and reinforcement impactful. Elite sales leaders are adjusting for the remote environment, driving better application of new sales skills. Below are a few examples from some of our most successful clients.
Implementing a regular coaching cadence, for managers to review reps progress
Beyond monthly opportunities reviews, or 30/60/90 day check ins, ensure managers are spending more time on the phone or over video supporting reps in executing new sales strategies or behaviors. Implementing a management rhythm (MOR) is a great way to provide structure and support for sales managers as they look to drive accountability and adoption after a sales initiative.
Integrating tools to support managers in providing value to reps during one-on-ones
Integrate ways for managers to review the progress of individual reps on their team. Can your managers easily identify how well reps have applied new concepts and methodologies to a deal they’re about to review? CRM integrations (of new methodologies) is a great way for managers to easily identify gaps and provide valuable insights to reps during regular coaching sessions. If your reps are taking e-learning courses as a part of your initiative, can your managers review their rep’s progress to define gaps in their knowledge and build lesson/coaching plans accordingly? Your e-learning programs and content hubs should provide your managers with measurable ways to assess their reps, not just review for completion.
Incorporating virtual “manager swaps'' to boost motivation and transparency around opportunities
Incorporate “manager swaps'' where territory managers host other sales teams for training or adoption events. This is a great way to boost consistency across siloed sales teams and territories. Swaps also help to improve transparency around deal coaching. Oftentimes, managers tend to be less emotionally attached to the deals that don't belong to their team, so the manager will be even more objective in doing a deal review for a rep/SE/CS that doesn't report to them.
Adding regular all-hands manager calls to their agendas:
Have an “all-hands manager call” every other week where you review how things are going, what’s working for some sales teams, what’s been challenging etc. “All-hands” calls are a great way to spread success stories and drive improvements to manager coaching skills. At the end of each session you can incorporate time to strategize and discuss coaching action plans to address any noted challenges.
McKinsey’s research notes: “High-quality remote capability building has one clear advantage over in-person approaches: scalability.” If these reinforcement options work remotely the good news is, you can always leverage these reinforcement and coaching techniques, regardless if your sales force is working remotely or in-person. Keep them in mind as you work toward continually improving sales effectiveness and your managers’ ability to drive front-line impact.
Integrate strategic ways to consistently engage & motivate sales teams
Anyone that’s launched a strategic change initiative in a sales organization knows, keeping the key concepts top-of-mind for front-line salespeople is integral to maintaining momentum and changing behaviors. In the fluster to meet quotas, executing new concepts and even just getting reps to think about them from one sales activity to another is where the main challenge often lies.
In an environment of isolation and physical distancing, it will be critical to employ new reinforcement techniques that are simple for salespeople to leverage, while at the same time robust enough to support consistent execution of new methodologies, processes, etc.
Get creative when working to keep new concepts at the forefront of your reps daily tasks. What remote reinforcement techniques can you implement that are simple for salespeople to incorporate into their daily tasks, yet robust enough to support consistent execution of your SKO’s main concepts?
One process that elite sales leaders often implement are “fast-start programs” that provide simple, bite-sized lessons for reps to expand on critical concepts and improve retention. The robust aspect to these programs requires them to go beyond just providing e-learning lessons and content. A strategic fast-start program incorporates a process for managers to coach on weekly expansion topics, find any gaps in seller comprehension or application and bring them into upcoming deal reviews. If you’re considering implementing a similar process, ensure you have a way to measure your reps growth through the e-learning system so you, as a sales leader, and your managers can gain visibility into challenging areas. With this visibility, you can quickly course correct and work with managers to build coaching plans before front-line execution goes too far awry. Depending on when you launch your virtual SKO initiative, consider rolling out on-going training programs immediately after or a few months down the line to provide a refresh and ensure lasting success.
Here are a few other simple-yet-robust ways to ensure your initiative stays stop-of-mind and doesn’t become an afterthought to your sales reps and managers:
- Develop company Slack channels, internal webinars or newsletters that are strictly focused on sharing success stories and lifting reps and managers up
- Provide internal messaging boards and outlets for reps to share strategic tips and insights that other reps may be able to leverage as well. A place where they can highlight practical examples of how they leveraged new capabilities/processes/methodologies to drive success in an opportunity
- Integrate new concepts and methodologies into all sales consumable tools and collateral that your reps have access to 24/7 from anywhere (i.e. demo scripts, pre-call plans, mutual action plans, proposal templates, etc.)
Commit to Driving Reinforcement & Improving Sales Execution
If you’re executing against a critical SKO initiative this year to course-correct last year’s execution challenges or even build off last year’s success — you’re already heading in the right direction. Leaders of elite sales organizations know that a true sales transformation is hard work. The revenue leaders who fully commit to seeing their initiatives through and developing a roadmap to build on that success reap great rewards because of it. Intercom is a great example of a company whose leaders are fully committed to making their sales initiatives stick. Now, they’re further driving sales growth by expanding on their strategy to improve sales effectiveness. See how within a year of completing their initial sales effectiveness initiative, Intercom saw a 261% increase in revenue per deal, and what they're doing to scale that success.
Drive Immediate and Lasting Sales Impact After Your SKO
There are five actions successful sales leaders take to drive immediate and lasting results after the launch of a sales kickoff or training initiative. Actions that help sales teams start strong, finish ahead and accelerate revenue growth. Review the steps that successful leaders prioritize to scale success long after their SKO ends.
Take action now. Get your playbook on the 5 Actions That Fuel Lasting SKO Success.