As we start the new year, many of us are also launched into SKO season. We've been planning for months to create an event that brings the team together, boosts morale and aligns everyone on our organization's priorities for the upcoming year. Often the resulting strategy focuses on training up new or underperforming members of the sales team and communicating expectations to improve productivity in the new year.
The sales kickoff is a prime opportunity to build momentum, right the course and chart the path towards increased sales productivity and revenue. In order to achieve desired levels of growth and productivity, leaders must ensure that their presentation addresses the needs of every member of their sales team.
It can be easy to expect that our top performers are already on our wavelength and need the least attention during these presentations. However, especially after a trying year of economic obstacles and hard-won deals, these A-players are analyzing their options for the upcoming year. As you prepare your sales kickoff (SKO) presentation, here are additional perspectives to consider.
The Future of Your Top Performers
In many companies, the top performers are considering jumping ship at the start of a new year. It's been a long year, full of complex negotiations due to tightening budgets and increased scrutiny from customers. They've likely worked overtime and called in favors to get deals in by quarter's end and save the forecast. They may have drained the pond in Q4 and are wondering if they can do it again. They feel they've been saddled with the burden of carrying the team to make up for lower performing members. These sellers are looking at your SKO presentation as a sales pitch for how you'll have their back in the upcoming year.
Don't make them draw their own assumptions and conclusions about their future at your company. Use your SKO as an opportunity to give them clarity on what the path forward looks like. Let them know that their efforts don't go unnoticed, and lay out a game plan for the support they'll have in the upcoming year.
Your top performers want to know how sales leadership is prepared to do the following:
Utilize what the marketplace, particularly your customers, are telling you about their challenges and what they'd like to see from your solution
Your top performers want to know how the company is going to help them win more than they did last year. If I'm a rep, and I can't sit in your SKO presentation and hear that message loud and clear, you're going to lose me. That's a dangerous thing, especially in a job seekers market like what we've been seeing in the past year. It's critical that sales leaders communicate that they understand what reps and managers face daily and how they plan to enable them to be more successful.
Here are five things you want to make sure are clearly articulated in your sales kickoff presentation:
Purpose: What is the mission of this company? Purpose answers the “WHAT” question. What is the purpose of our team? Every team is driven by something. Hopefully this is something your top performers have heard before, but it's important to demonstrate how what you're doing next aligns with this purpose.
Passion: Passion answers the “WHY” question. Why do I believe in the purpose? Passion is the evidence of purpose. When you demonstrate that you are personally invested in your team's success, you have a much better chance of motivating them and getting buy-in.
Vision: What does the purpose look like in the future? Vision answers the “WHERE” question. Where will this purpose lead me in the future? Is it worth the journey? Just as you ask your sellers to provide customers with a vision, you need to sell them on working for your organization.
Strategy: Strategy answers the “HOW” question. How will we fulfill our purpose? How will we accomplish our vision? Let them know that you have a road map to get there and won't just burden them with objectives.
Skills: Skills answer the “WHICH” question. Which skills are required to execute the strategy? How will you support the continuous growth and implementation of these skills?
Remember the rule of three when it comes to your team:
Someone will quit
Someone will have to be let go
Someone will surprise you
Your top performers are going to be the ones who surprise you. When they leave, it's often devastating for the company. That's not a situation you want to be in when you're selling in a competitive market where everyone is hiring. As you prep your presentation, remember your top performers have options. You may think that their success is a reason for them to stay, but the reason these are top performers is because they're hungry for growth and ready to get to the next level. So, the real question is why should they stay?
Make sure you have the answer.
Support Your Top Performers to Win More
Provide your team with the #1 tool they need to sell in a competitive environment throughout the upcoming year: a strong value message. By aligning your team on a message that speaks to what buyers need right now, you give top performers increased leverage in their negotiations. You also equip your new and underperforming sellers to communicate value and reduce the pressure on A-players to singlehandedly make the forecast happen every quarter.