You just had your sales kickoff—

but it probably won’t have the impact you wanted

Published on: February 2018

Written by: Andrew Dornon

It’s the end of sales kickoff season, and for many sales leaders and enablement teams, that means you’ve just executed a high stakes event flawlessly, sharing the latest and greatest with your organizations. Now you’re simply basking in the glow – waiting to reap the rewards of your investment of time and resources.

Unfortunately, in the back of your mind, you know the likelihood that reps will implement what they have learned is actually pretty low. After sales kickoffs, 95% of the time sales reps and managers simply return to their territories, making a few small attempts to implement some of what they have learned, and after failing the first time or two, go back to engaging customers in exactly the same way as before. It’s the status quo.Sticking to the status quo – throwing the same sales kickoff event with the same lack of follow up – will produce the same results. Your annual sales meeting is one of the largest budget items of the year, so you need to produce results – this means shaking things up.

What can you do?

Create a tactical plan for following up after your sales kickoff.

The good news: you already have the content that is needed to make this plan a reality. Using the four E’s of sales kickoff success – the event itself, engage, embed, and execute – allows you to ensure your reps produce the results you want to see: a return ten times higher than your average kickoff investment.

  1. The Event Itself: Kick-start change face-to-face
    The purpose of having a sales kickoff is jump-starting change. You’ve set the agenda for the year, introduced new solutions, initiatives, and skills for reps to help them engage their customers. You even had your leaders share insights and expectations – you showed your sales force that you value them enough to bring them together, sharing the vision and gathering their input.
  2. Engage: Keep communicating with the field
    Communication can and should take on many different forms, and it should be occurring with more frequency than feels necessary. For example, sales leaders should be sharing insights and updates on initiatives. The enablement team can design meetings and script slides for sales managers to lead discussions and gain specific performance and activity commitments from their reps. Also, sharing videos of customers describing how a new solution helped them succeed is equally valuable. What’s important is that the key themes of the meeting are kept in front of reps afterwards, so that they know the new solutions and initiatives are here to stay, and weren’t just the flavor of the week.
  3. Embed: Introduce what’s new and repeatable into reps’ workflow
    Whether these are new solutions providing sales or industry insights, make sure it’s reflected in the CRM quickly. Handing out physical playbooks at a kickoff is fine to give reps as a reference for their desk, but in the field, they need to know what to do when, and what to do next, and they need it on all devices. Whatever shifts you’re asking reps to make that can be automated should be integrated into their daily tools as soon as possible.
  4. Execute: Have reps adopt new skills as regular behaviors in the field
    Reps won’t change how they sell overnight. And for good reason, what they’ve been doing up until now has made them successful. They need to take small, structured risks in front of customers, and get feedback from peers in order to fully adopt a new way of working. Action items like Go-Do’s that allow salespeople to incrementally adopt new sales motions build confidence. Work Groups are another way to facilitate execution. They are designed to help your salesforce improve on real work with their peers, so that they can learn from each other and are held accountable for the change. Combining a clear path to mastery, and helping your team members through the challenges of trying something new make it easier to stay committed to selling differently, and will lead to much higher adoption and performance.
In conclusion…

It’s time to admit what we all know: sales kickoffs in isolation are mostly a waste. But you can do better. It only takes an incremental investment of time and resources to follow up on a kickoff, but all too often we fail to do it. It’s time to get serious about kickoffs and engage your reps, embedding what’s new into tools and giving them the opportunity to execute small so they don’t fail big. If you do this, your kickoffs will finally drive the change you’ve been looking for.