Your Next SKO: Steps Sales Leaders Execute Early On
Categories: Sales Kickoff
Defining the plan for this year's sales kickoff (SKO) has many sales leaders focused on using this year’s event to motivate and build momentum for the upcoming year. The SKO isn’t something that should just be delegated to an enablement team. It should be viewed as a strategic event that launches the sales team on a plan for success for the year. As a sales leader, it’s too important for you not to be fully involved.
The most successful sales kickoffs are events that move the strategy forward and enable the achievement of critical business impacts. Here are some key steps sales leaders need to execute prior to the SKO to ensure similar outcomes:
1. Assemble the right team
Assembling the right team to plan and execute the SKO is a critical step to making the event a success. You need a team that will be capable of developing the SKO deliverables and aligning the agenda in a way that makes your event an impactful experience for everyone participating. Who will be presenting? Who will take part in defining and reviewing the core concepts covered during the SKO? Do you need to incorporate managers ahead of time to ensure they come to the SKO prepared to coach and provide feedback to their teams?
Consider who’s input, opinions and influence you need ahead of time to roll out a SKO that equips your entire sales organization to succeed next year. Put yourself at the top of that list. While it may be easy to delegate much of the planning to your enablement team, your commitment and involvement in the initiative are imperative and a critical component to whether or not it drives the engagement and sales performance improvements you need.
2. Lead overall strategy, design and big picture
Remove any obstacles for your enablement team by taking an active role in the development of your SKO. As you move forward, remember, while you can delegate some tasks to your enablement team, there are others tasks they simply don’t have the power, resources or influence to tackle. Consider what actions you need to own regarding these three areas of your SKO plan:
Strategy and objectives:
Your enablement team can bring the big picture to life, but it’s up to you to define what that big picture strategy is for your SKO. What are your objectives? How are you planning to use the SKO to equip your salespeople with what’s needed to achieve next year’s sales and company goals? Provide the vision. An impactful SKO starts with your input, support and dedication. Decide on clear, long-term and short-term objectives that you want to achieve as a result of your SKO efforts. Give your enablement team clear objectives to work back from as they develop the agenda, training, deliverables and post-SKO plan. Then, stay committed and stay involved.
Own the responsibility of ensuring your SKO’s activities and deliverables are relevant and customized to your sales organization’s execution challenges. Stay involved with the agenda and planning to ensure you’re not bombarding your people with too many new concepts at once. In our engagements with clients, the sales leaders who take a leadership role when it comes to these details are better equipped to get executive-level buy-in, support and input on what’s being developed. They’re also better equipped to move faster toward launch and execute their SKO with minimal internal roadblocks.
Before your team gets cranking making decisions, ensure they are prioritizing the timing wisely. Work with enablement to define what needs to happen before and after your SKO, in order to make it successful. What can you roll out now to increase engagement at the main SKO, whether it’s virtual or in-person? What is the post-SKO plan to drive sales momentum, consistent execution and front-line accountability?
Leading up to your SKO, there are likely specific concepts or behaviors you can train your team on to maximize time during the actual event. Work with your enablement team to decide what those are. Similarly, with the SKO only lasting for a couple of days at most, ensure your enablement team builds a ready-to-launch adoption plan for what happens after the SKO.
3. Communicate to your team
In order to drive seller engagement at your SKO and execution of critical concepts after it, you need to cover certain topics with your entire sales organization before the event, and during any pre-work. Before your SKO, communicate how you’re planning to use the event to support and ensure your salespeople's long-term success at your company. Update your salespeople on the company’s vision, how your SKO is aligned to that vision and their specific role in what’s next. Find impactful ways to communicate these critical concepts to your entire sales organization before your SKO. Be specific to each role that will participate. Here are a few insights to consider as you communicate with your managers and field reps.
Get your managers aligned on the value of your sales initiative. Provide them clarity on how the company’s new direction and/or what you’re rolling out at the SKO will support them in hitting their number and coaching their sales teams. Ensure they instill the importance of your initiative into their sales teams. Share what actions they will need to execute leading up to the SKO and what they should be communicating to their teams. For example, to practice certain concepts during your SKO, your reps may need to bring in information on a live opportunity they are pursuing. Communicate to your managers the importance of bringing in this opportunity and their role in vetting opportunities with reps to ensure they bring in valuable deals to discuss at the live SKO training.
At the same time you’re communicating with your managers, find ways to communicate to your reps, (1) what’s next for your company and (2) their role in it. Be specific. How will what they learn at the SKO benefit them moving forward? What skills or capabilities will they need to focus on leading up to your SKO? What is your ultimate ‘ask’ of your sales reps for the SKO event and afterward? If they consistently execute your ‘ask’, what will be their long-term outcome or reward, increased quota attainment, faster time-to-close ratios, less wasted time on unqualified opps., etc.? Provide this clarity to your reps and do it ahead of time to drive their commitment and engagement, not just to what you're rolling out, but to your company as well.
4. Stay focused on your SKO participants
Along with effective communication, the relevancy of the actual SKO content, training and deliverables will play a key role in whether or not your salespeople engage with what was rolled out when they get back to their day jobs.
Although it takes a concerted effort, aligning aspects of the SKO training and deliverables to everyone participating will play a major role in your success. As you know, not every sales position is created equal, meaning, if the event is not relevant to what each audience member does every day — participants will tune out. Your event may still be motivating, but your result will vary amongst teams and territories.
Work with your enablement team to align your SKO training and deliverables in a way that’s meaningful to everyone participating in your SKO. How can you tailor pre-training to ensure sellers are equipped to practice new concepts and managers can provide effective feedback? What deliverables will you provide managers with to help them drive accountability and consistent execution after the SKO? Here are a few examples of the tactics other sales leaders have implemented to develop a SKO that’s relevant to every role in the “room”.
Develop a Strategic SKO that Moves the Needle Next Year
You’ve got numbers to hit. You know what’s working well and what isn’t. At the same time, your company may be dealing with marketplace shifts or strategic changes. What do you need to do to make sure your sales organization is set up for success? Consider how you can use the SKO to ensure sales is aligned and equipped to execute, this rapid sales assessment may help.
Sales leaders are also finding these resources helpful as they define what’s next for their sales organization and align on broader sales initiatives that they can kickoff during their SKO. You may find value in them as well.