As we’ve all settled back into life the first few weeks of 2017, there have been plenty of water cooler conversations about holidays, trips, and new year’s resolutions around the halls of Highspot. We’ve also talked a lot about what we learned in 2016 and how we plan to apply those learnings in 2017.
Sales Kickoff (SKO) is often one of the best places to put together a structured plan for applying new learnings. By planning ahead for what your reps truly need to succeed after SKO, you can have your best sales year ever.
Put a little focus on these five areas, and you’re bound to see long-term success from this year’s efforts.
1. Formalize Sales Training and Coaching
This one sounds straightforward, but it often isn’t: Make sure you have a formal plan in place to train and coach your sales reps, especially the new hires that you’re onboarding. Now is the time to review and refresh your 30/60/90-day onboarding plan to ensure that your reps are well-prepared before being sent out into the field. Properly onboarding reps both accelerates time to productivity and ensures their effectiveness because they’re on-message — both at a company and product level.
SKO Suggestion: Ask your reps, especially the new hires, if they feel they have adequate training and coaching before being put in the field. Sometimes those responsible for creating content and training think it’s covered, but sales reps feel an entirely different way — and you need to know if that’s the case.
2. Modularize Your Sales Playbook
Even though it’s 2017, some organizations still feel compelled to go into SKO or sales trainings with thick-bound, printed playbooks. Don’t do it! Your perfectly laid out and printed book will barely be used — trust me.
It’s not that the information in the playbook isn’t useful – it’s simply not the way most people digest information these days. Reps want to know the resources available to them, how to find them, and when to use them, as it applies to any given sales situation. Guided selling is key to seller sanity.
SKO Suggestion: Validate with your sales reps the various components of a particular deal, and use this to modularize your sales playbook based on the relevant information needed for a given sales scenario.
3. Deliver Training “In-Context” with Sales Engagements
Once your reps are out in the field (or working sales inside), do they have the training and tools to know what and how to engage with a prospect or customer?
For example, let’s say your rep is going into a presentation with a prospect, in an industry outside of the norm. First, can they easily find the right content or deck to deliver to that prospect? And do they have the training to know how to deliver it? It’s not just about having the right content, but also knowing how to deliver that content that counts.
SKO Suggestion: Do an audit of your sales content. Do your reps know how to deliver each piece? If not, this is the year to put together a plan to pair content with the proper training — and ensure that these pieces get served up together in the proper context prior to a sales engagement.
4. Provide Continuous Training, Content, and Best Practices
SKOs are considered continuous training — and rightly so — but training shouldn’t stop there. There are several opportunities to provide continuous training to your sales rep throughout the year, and it’s important to have a plan in place for each.
Does your organization have new products releasing this year? Or competitive updates? If so, these are opportune times to make sure you provide the continuous training your reps need to properly sell these new or additive features out in the field.
SKO Suggestion: Leverage your visibility into what is coming down the pike from a product roadmap standpoint, or into current field-focused best practices, and start to look ahead to how you can reach your reps with the continuous training they need throughout the year to be successful.
5. Gather End-to-End Analytics
At the end of the year, all the sales enablement efforts in the world are for nothing if you don’t have solid analytics to back up the work. Can you or your sales reps say with any definitive notation what sales content moved deals through the pipeline? Can you say which email or pitch most engaged a prospect? Or convinced an Opportunity to go from Qualified to Closed/Won?
SKO Suggestion: If you struggle to do this in retrospect on 2016 data, then now is the time to ensure you eliminate the systems silos that are keeping you from answering analytics questions with confidence in 2017. Your sales enablement platform should provide the analytics that enables you to easily know what works, what doesn’t, and why.
As we look forward into the coming year, it’s critical to have the fundamental foundational elements covered first — and covered well — when coming out of SKO. For a deeper dive into these tips, check out our recent ATD (Association of Talent Development) on-demand webinar here.
Here’s to a productive and prosperous 2017!