Here’s a scenario that’s familiar to most organizations: sales management and enablement leaders gather sales team (new hires and veterans alike) for a multi-day kick-off session for the upcoming year, usually in January for a calendar fiscal year. New messages, sales processes, and pricing are all shared, usually along with revenue projections and sales quotas. The product team lays out the roadmap and competitor landscape, the marketing team presents their plan to drive demand, and there is usually a customer or keynote speaker, or several. Finally, the team gets together socially to celebrate the exciting potential of the year ahead, or perhaps offload why they think the best laid plan is not going to get them to quota.
Then, with a feeling of information overload, expensive and hard-to-recruit sales teams scatter back to their region to begin the hard work of selling for the year ahead.
And then they begin forgetting…
The problem is, a drinking-from-a-firehose, one-size-fits-all approach at sales kick-offs doesn’t translate into long-term success – especially for industries like life sciences, technology, and financial services that require high degrees of knowledge, message consistency, and focus on detail. A natural phenomenon called the “forgetting curve” shows 79 percent of knowledge is forgotten in as little as 30 days. Although your sales team may have been listening at your sales kick-off, the reality is that post-event reinforcement is needed to ensure reps retain critical knowledge and put new skills into practice. Understanding proficiency of sales kick-off content before, during, and after the event is an effective way to know which sessions of the sales kick-off were effective and which were not, giving sales enablement leaders a valuable way to determine ROI on the investment.
Successful sales enablement programs have strategies in place to not only sustain sales kick-off momentum, but build upon it. It requires advance planning and needs to be continuous. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help keep your sales team’s productivity, proficiency, and performance at peak following the sales kick-off.
Don’t: Consider Sales Kickoff as a “One-and-Done” Training Opportunity
Sales enablement leaders need to shift their focus to measuring proficiency and reinforcing knowledge and skills over time after the sales kick-off through best practice microlearning. This approach breaks complex training content into more digestible pieces. When combined with proven testing effect and spaced education best practices (scenario-based Q&A challenges, repetition, real-time feedback, peer interaction, game mechanics), sales reps are better able to recall information and apply newly learned skills in the field sooner. This scientifically proven approach increases knowledge retention by up to 170 percent and gives visibility at individual rep level to know what has been mastered and retained from the sales kick-off, and where there are gaps to coach against.
Do: Focus on Sales Proficiency
Sales proficiency focuses on what sales reps know, and whether they can apply that knowledge in their daily interactions with customers and prospects – in other words, how well skilled they are to do their job. But without proper context and insight into the sales proficiency of each rep after sales kick-off, managers can’t coach on the areas that will have the greatest business impact on in-year revenue. Best practice microlearning drives continuous improvement long after sales kick-off and gives managers the insights they need to develop more effective training and coaching paths to support each rep’s unique needs throughout the year.
Do: Make it in the Moment
Once sales kick-off is over, you want your sales force out selling, not desk bound or back in the classroom. Sales enablement leaders can benefit from mobile training tools that engage reps in-the-moment, on-the-go, via their mobile device. Because sales reps generally live on their mobile device or laptop, sales training becomes a continuous “always-on” process within the daily flow of work and does not eat into valuable time with the customer. Sales enablement leaders also benefit by delivering a consistent training experience to every rep, no matter where they are located. Adding real-time feedback from front line managers keeps reps feeling engaged and supported in their personal development path.
Don’t: Forget to Make it Measurable
Microlearning apps guide managers to pinpoint knowledge or skill gaps with quantitative, precise, real-time data. By overlaying sales proficiency data (strengths and weaknesses) with sales performance metrics (win rates, pipeline growth, and average deal size) each quarter following kick-off, sales leaders have data-driven leading indicators to craft a personalized approach to sales development. This lets them address each sales rep’s unique shortcomings with precise, targeted coaching. Supported by visual dashboards and reports, sales leadership can also track each rep’s progress while producing more credible and accurate forecasts. According to CSO Insights, a dynamic approach such as this yields up to 66 percent higher win rates.
If you’re looking for additional ideas on how to keep your sales force focused and highly effective all 365 days of the year, we have many more to share. To continue the conversation, schedule a meeting here: