The typical sales kickoff event is going to look different this year. With the possibility of an in-person event becoming more and more unlikely, company leaders are using this opportunity to invest in strategic sales initiatives that they can launch virtually, during the time of their would-be SKO. The move often shifts travel and entertainment funds into tools, content and training to improve critical components of sales execution. Done right, the switch can get companies moving faster and help them bridge critical gaps in achieving their 2021 goals.
Provide the leadership vision that retains top performers
There are CROs and company leaders who are wrestling with whether or not to do something virtual, not do anything, or hold off for an in-person SKO event. If you cancel your SKO, an event you do every year, what message is that sending to your teams? At the very least, doing something virtually gives you the opportunity to provide the strategic plan for the year.
Your team wants to know the clear plan of action moving forward. This year, like in years’ past, your sales reps will be wondering how they fit into the plan and what you, as a sales leader, are going to do to support their success. How will you address these critical concepts, and how will you provide them with an actionable strategy to compete next year? Keep top performers from jumping ship by articulating the plan for revenue recovery or revenue growth and defining the salesperson’s role in that strategy. Then, enable them with the training and resources for how to achieve it. Your upcoming SKO is your biggest opportunity to do just that. Use the event to define and address your plan to course correct and invest in your salespeople’s future success.
Reinvest funds and improve application opportunities
Planning a strategic sales initiative and launching it virtually, instead of a grandiose in-person SKO event requires a shift in mindset. No longer do you have to spend money flying your team members to one location, pay for meals, entertainment, etc. ... While true, many of us are disappointed that there won’t be a “big event” this year, this shift can provide incredible opportunity for companies. That is, if the event is executed in a way that aligns to the organization’s strategic goals and accounts for the nuances needed to engage people virtually. Here are a few reasons why companies are making this shift:
Benefits of moving to a virtual sales training initiative:
Ensure productivity, while making an immediate impact in performance:
You don’t have to take salespeople away from selling for days at a time. Sessions that last a few hours, spread out across multiple days for example, provides the opportunity for salespeople to keep selling and immediately apply lessons learned. For example, training on anchoring in a negotiation morning session, could immediately be applied in an afternoon call with the customer.
Expand on the critical concepts of your strategy:
With a virtual event, it's easier to spread the event out over a longer period of days (typically 1-2 weeks is sufficient) to provide enough time to cover and expand on all of the critical concepts, while diving into examples, group discussion and practice sessions. In a typical 3 or 4-day SKO, you may need to stay high level and breeze over key topics, discussions and application sessions in order to stay on schedule for that day’s list of events.
Higher engagement during every session:
If you think back to past SKOs, how many of your participants were engaged during the last few presentations of the day, or even on the last day altogether? Did you even zone out from time to time? During a virtual training engagement your participants only have to focus on new concepts for a few hours a day, rather than try to learn and retain new concepts from one presentation to the next, to the next — for three or four long days.
In-person or virtual, the SKO is a key moment in time where leaders have the opportunity to course correct sales team performance in a way that aligns with the strategic priorities of the company. Whether your sales teams are struggling with too much discounting, your pipeline has become near stagnant, or numerous deals are drawing on longer without close — it’s important to keep in mind that waiting is the same as doing nothing. Without action, these issues will only continue to amplify.
As a sales leader, use the time you have now to uncover the specific gaps in your sales processes and challenges your sales teams are dealing with. Define and align what your sales teams need to consistently move the needle next year, then invest in making it happen.
Align Your Organization on 2021 goals
Your next SKO is your biggest opportunity as a sales leader to get your entire sales organization aligned on how they will execute against 2021 goals.
Take the opportunity this year to formulate a strategic plan to improve sales execution, and invest in a well-executed virtual sales initiative that sets your sales teams on the path to success. When sales leaders consider the strategy behind their SKO early, they’re better able to make an impact on its success and ROI. Use our SKO resources to drive the outcomes you need from a strategic, sales transformation initiative.