I wrote this article having attended a sales kick-off and sales enablement event for a major technology company.
This event, while similar in many aspects to a traditional kick-off, varied greatly in the take-aways for each individual sales attendee.
Why Kick-offs Fail
Kick-offs are great events, but for the most part they fail to achieve their objectives in getting the sales team energized and enabling each individual to perform at a higher level in the new sales year, (so that they can achieve their higher quotas).
Las Vegas Kick-off Party
Most kick-off programs are comprised of a motivational speaker, rah-rah speeches from the senior exec. team and an endless stream of completely forgettable PowerPoint presentations, followed by breakouts.
However the awards ceremonies and individual recognition are important.
The reason most kick-offs fail is they treat the sales kick-off training and development initiative as a one-off and fail to follow through with situational learning and coaching necessary to attain mastery in the new skill/technique or story.
On reflection, the bonding, story-telling and relationship development were the most important aspect of the kick-off events I attended in my sales career.
Kick-off your New Sales Year with a Sales Enablement Initiative
What was different about the kick-off event I am writing about was the level of engagement in new sales enablement technique for the whole sales, marketing and pre-sales teams... they will remember this event.
This company adopted visual storytelling using whiteboards and flip charts to enable the field sales and pre-sales teams to:
- Consistently position value creation capabilities as they relate to how buyers use the products to solve the causes of their problems.
- Engage buyers in a more compelling business conversations vs. boring product feature-benefit presentations,
- Own their message and more confidently tell their story.
The stories presented by this technology company were "why-me" stories as they are a mature company with multiple products competing in mainstream markets.
More importantly for fast emerging technology companies are "why-change" stories that deliver insight and uncover unmet, unknown or undervalued needs to create a bias for action and change.
After more than 6 passes of the story and drawing the visual confection in the training session, sales and pre-sales people will leave the event owning the new story and some new skills so they can use it on their next sales encounter to better position and qualify opportunities.
In my experience, salespeople will know the story well enough after a kick-off event to have a useful conversation with a buyer, although they will not be comfortable until they have told the visual story 20 times.
The difference between great salespeople and the rest is that great salespeople will happily put in the practice and become expert in the story and comfortable communicating with buyers in any surrounding.
Like most kick-off sales training and sales enablement events, not all sales and pre-sales support people will buy-in.
The majority will leave the event well on their way to mastering their value-creation story to better engage buyers in conversation in the critical early stages of the buying cycle.
With practice, coaching and accreditation, individual performance will improve and higher quota attainment will follow.