The typical Sales Kick-Off agenda covered 3 main topics:
- Reward & Recognition – acknowledgment of your organization’s top performers and the coveted “President’s Club” trophy and trip.
- Strategic Vision for 2012– how the organization’s strategic goals and plans create the excitement that you’re on the “winning” team for the upcoming year.
- Training & Learning- introduction of best practices, new product offerings & upcoming releases, break-out sessions and the introduction of the company’s new processes.
These are obviously all admirable topics to cover. Unfortunately, there may have been one topic you didn’t consider. Retention loss.
Your sales organization just absorbed massive quantities of new knowledge, skills, and behaviors that need to be translated into practice. If you see no benefits from your SKO throughout the year, then what was the 15 weeks of planning and large investment for? At that point, it’s not as much an investment as it is careless spending
The area that will create the largest impact on your sales organization will be what your sales team was exposed to in the Training and Learning sessions. How do make it stick?
3 Ways to Leverage your SKO Investment – Prevent the Drain:
- Test their knowledge retention frequently. Every week for rest of the year (pick a day and remain consistent) send out a survey that covers a particular topic that is critical to your sales organization’s success. You can use a free, easy survey tool like Survey Monkey. Make it short! Just 5 questions that will require them to reflect back on SKO, reach out to a peer for the correct answer, or conduct the appropriate sales strategy research. Require everyone to participate, make it fun, and reward top achievers with fun tokens. (Starbucks cards, Movie tickets, Gift Cards)
- Sales Leader: What you’ll learn from these surveys is how well your team retained the content you shared at SKO. If a large percentage of your team performs poorly, you’ve officially been sent a red flag. The content at SKO was either not delivered correctly, was delivered too fast, or not well enough for them to absorb. You now have the topic for your next sales training segment gift-wrapped and sent to you by the very people it affects the most – your sales team. Regroup and present them the information again in a way that makes it stick.
- Peer-to-Peer Accountability- There is no tactic more powerful than connecting your sales organization through a “peer-to-peer” program. Create a program that allows your sales team to work together on improving each other’s skills. Use the content presented at SKO as the framework for creating this accountability, with the focus on specific skills that can be worked on together. Include taped (it’s easy, you can just use your iPhone) role-plays, and videotaped scenarios. These strategies allow peers to practice in a safe environment.
- Sales Leader: Encourage your best peer-to-peer teams to share knowledge across the entire sales team. Reward peer-to-peer teams that share best practices, success stories, and tips for how their newly acquired skills improved them as a sales professional.
- Field Sales Leaders: As a field sales leader, you play the biggest role in making sure that the sales strategies and skills shared at SKO are being utilized in the field. At your next sales meeting, what will the agenda look like? Leverage the content presented at SKO in your sales meeting agendas throughout the year to build the sales skills of your sales team. As the old saying goes- you can expect what you inspect. Tolerating bad sales habits, and lack of adherence to new sales strategies and skills confirms to your sales team that SKO is really just an event. It’s a good time had by all where the organization pays for the food and gives out awards instead of a learning environment that will require new skills to be utilized and incorporated into daily habits. If you can convince them that SKO is the latter, you will succeed in driving the organization’s performance.
- Sales Leader: Use your day-to-day interactions with your sales team to reinforce what was shared at SKO, and what will be expected because of it. The pace, tolerance, and focus you have will set the tone and send a message to your team. Lead by example utilizing the new skills whenever and wherever possible.
Don’t let the investment in SKO (not to mention your entire sales organization) slowly fade into the distant memory bank. Make SKO 2012 last the entire year by leveraging these winning sales strategies for success.
Share your best practices below on how you assure that your sales team doesn’t lose the skills they learn at SKO.
If you are a newly promoted to the VP of Sales role, or if you just want a concise primer on how to lead a sales organization and ensure success, click on the link below to download Matt Sharrer’s and Greg Alexander’s free e-book.