Creating a Highly Effective & Engaging Virtual Sales Kickoff
For decades, the annual Sales Kickoff (SKO) has served as the premier event for companies to bring their sales teams together to align around annual priorities and bond as a team. SKO agendas typically include the following elements:
- Sales strategy
- Key priorities
- New offerings
- Sales training
- Team building
- Networking opportunities
With the Covid-19 epidemic continuing into 2021, companies have to rethink how to achieve these same goals without an in-person event.
In many respects, rethinking the SKO makes a lot of sense. While the traditional in-person SKO set out to achieve the above-listed goals, the format posed four significant challenges:
- Information overload: Since the SKO was event-based (e.g., 2 or 3-day format), it typically was packed with sessions dominated by PowerPoint presentations. While the content was relevant, the ability to internalize and retain so much information in a condensed period is overwhelming.
- Lack of collaboration: A key component of learning is the ability to collaborate and share ideas. SKO events' condensed nature and the group sizes (often 50 or more in a meeting room) are not conducive to sharing ideas and best practices. This situation creates a significant challenge from a learning standpoint since "peer to peer" learning based on real-world experiences is powerful.
- Difficult to measure outcomes: Given the varied topics and brief nature of the typical SKO, it is difficult to measure what skills and knowledge participants took away from the sessions.
- No reinforcement: While the themes from the SKO were designed to carry forward throughout the year, very few SKOs included formal or informal reinforcement sessions. As a result, the training experience did not capitalize on the most powerful aspects of learning; real-world application and adoption of the strategies and skills presented at the SKO.
In rethinking the SKO, we may not be able to recreate the in-person team building and networking opportunities. Still, we can develop an SKO strategy that allows for a better learning and development experience for the sales team.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, we have all had to transform how we engage with clients and each other. We have become increasingly tech-savvy and learned to sell virtually by leveraging meeting platforms and other technologies that allow us to engage and learn from each other. A technology that works particularly well for team learning and engagement are collaborative learning platforms that allow for spaced learning that incorporate micro-learning videos, live online sessions, peer to peer engagement, application exercises, and a leaderboard to track everyone's progress.
Leveraging this type of approach, companies can create a Virtual SKO that incorporates ongoing cohort sessions where participants can review and discuss concepts and share ideas based on real-world experiences. This approach also allows sales leaders to organize SKO topics with a cadence that addresses the four challenges noted above. Additionally, companies can track activities and award badges to improve completion rates and promote team collaboration.
As opposed to a 2 - 3day event, a Virtual SKO can take place over 3 – 4 weeks, with distinct tracks (i.e., strategy, new offerings, virtual selling…) and cohort groups of 25 – 50 participants. This approach is especially attractive for larger sales teams that operate across multiple time zones.
Keep in mind that creating a Virtual SKO is not all that complicated. It will likely take less time and energy to develop than an in-person event. So, don't let Covid-19 deter you from rethinking your SKO.
About Norman Behar
Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.