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The Cure for the Common Sales Kick-off: 2015 Event Planning Guide

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The annual sales kick-off continues to be a uniquely important forum, often bringing together hundreds of worldwide team members in one location. But given the complexity of today’s B2B selling environment, the stakes for these meetings, and the expected ROI for all the man hours and dollars required to execute them, have never been higher. So how can you make sure your next sales kick-off is not simply business as usual, and how will you measure its ultimate success (or failure)? Download this eBook for a list of the 7 secrets you need to know to make your next sales kick-off the most effective − and memorable ever.

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The Cure for the Common Sales Kick-off: 2015 Event Planning Guide

  1. 1. The Cure for the Common Sales Kick-off: 2015 Event Planning Guide 7 Secrets for Making the Most of Your Investment of Time and Money
  2. 2. 2 | Introduction Like many sales and marketing leaders, you’re likely already deep into planning your national sales kick-off for 2015. Despite significant changes in selling approaches in recent years, the annual sales kick-off continues to be a uniquely important forum, often bringing together hundreds of worldwide team members in one location. But given the complexities of today’s B2B selling environment, the stakes for these meetings, and the expected return on investment for all the man hours and dollars required to execute them, have never been higher. So how can you make sure your next sales kick-off is not simply business as usual, and how will you measure its ultimate success (or failure)? Not sure? Then read on! We’ve compiled a list of the secrets you need to know, and plan for, to get the optimal benefit for your reps, your managers, and your bottom- line.
  3. 3. 3 | 7 Secrets to a Successful Sales Kick-off 1. Define your program objectives carefully. Are your reps struggling with new product or competitive messaging? Or should you focus on core selling skills like discovery and negotiation? Be sure to carefully identify and document your core goals upfront. Ensuring that your meeting’s content agenda, time allocations and success metrics are well aligned will make all the difference when it comes time to measure and report on your results. Communicate early and often with all key stakeholders to build consensus and set the right expectations for all participants. Your kick-off will have a number of key audiences, including sales executives, front-line managers and reps. Issuing effective, advance communications – whether live, or via email or other online channels such as your sales portal - ensures that your teams understand the agenda, the actions required and can offer on-the-ground support. “While organizations are making ever greater investments in technologies and operational processes, sales leaders cited training and development as being one of their greatest challenges to improving performance. This included better sales skills, product knowledge and industry knowledge.” - Sales Management Association 2. Your sales kick-off is not just an event, it’s your launch pad for growth. Think of your sales kick-off as a new product launch. Like all successful launches, the work doesn’t stop when you deliver the product. Any good product introduction is supported by a year- long (or more!) marketing, training and operations plan to ensure customers understand how it addresses their specific business challenges, what the core features and benefits are, and why they should choose you over a competitor. In a kick-off scenario, the sales team is the “customer.” There will be new strategies, behaviors and best practices introduced at your kick-off. How will you sustain and reinforce those in the months ahead? The reality is that your sales team requires a similarly integrated plan for ongoing reinforcement of key messages and selling skills that will drive adoption and ensure your reps are prepared to win.
  4. 4. 4 | 3. Don’t forget the basics in favor of what’s new. Sales reps love nothing more than a hot, new product in their bag, and as a result, many sales kick-offs spend the bulk of their agenda focused on training reps for the “shiny new thing” being released this year. New product training is critical, but if your reps are failing at the basics of good sales techniques – active listening, asking consultative questions, or assessing business need – even a red-hot product may not be enough to help them make quota. Regardless of the selling methodology your company subscribes to, your sales kick-off can be a great time to focus on the bedrock skills that all successful sales reps possess. Also consider introducing some new techniques, such as social selling, and make sure you plan for transfer of all that great learning long after your meeting is over.
  5. 5. 5 | 4. Leave time for coaching. A 2014 Sales Management Association (SMA) study on sales coaching revealed that despite the stated importance of coaching as a performance accelerator, the biggest obstacle to consistent coaching was lack of time on the part of managers (and to a certain extent lack of skill). As a result, managers were more likely to engage on a highly informal basis, often focused on a single deal or opportunity, rather than overall or long-term improvement. Your sales kick-off, with most of your reps in a single location, is a great opportunity to highlight specific execution challenges or areas of improvement you would like to see from your team across the board. Additionally, coaching in a large group can often allow team members to help learn from each other, bouncing ideas and best practices among the team, and sharing success stories in an open dialogue. While group dynamics can be helpful, many managers still struggle to assess specific knowledge or skills gaps among individual members of their team, especially if they’re spread across large territories. This is an area where mobile apps such as Qstream, that can measure a specific individual’s understanding of key concepts and how to respond in a unique business or customer scenario, can offer tremendous value. The real-time nature of these solutions also allows for immediate feedback and analysis while your meeting is still in session, giving you the opportunity to share the responses of your team while the content is still top of mind, and offer coaching and other suggested remedial actions on the spot. “The real-time nature of these mobile solutions also allows for immediate feedback and analysis while your meeting is still in session, giving you the chance to share the responses of your team while key content is still top of mind, and offer coaching and other suggested remedial actions on the spot.”
  6. 6. 6 | 5. Take advantage of recognition and reward opportunities. Sales reps are a uniquely competitive bunch, and for many, the only thing better than winning is being recognized for it. Using reinforcement solutions that include gamification elements, such as leader boards, to stimulate their tribal tendencies, as well as a creative reward structure will keep your team engaged both during and after the event, while giving management a real-time view of how well the team has absorbed the content and messaging presented. Plus, these competitions can keep rep engagement alive long after the kick-off is done. . 6. Your team will forget the majority of what they heard at your kick-off in a matter of days. But there’s an app for that. Sales enablement and training professionals have long suffered with the reality of “The Forgetting Curve,” the phenomenon first documented in the late 1800’s which describes the dramatic drop off in knowledge retention over time. Studies show that in as little as 30 days, 79% of knowledge is forgotten. It’s simply a matter of how the brain works. The cure for this is to make sure reps can apply information after your event to fully encode it into memory and demonstrate new skills on the job. This transformation begins with the acknowledgement that sales reps are people, and people are complex. They possess ingrained behaviors, and changing that behavior doesn’t happen with “death by PowerPoint” approaches to knowledge transfer. “Studies show that in as little as 30 days, 79% of knowledge is forgotten.” z
  7. 7. 7 | “Researchers at Harvard have shown that a combination of interval reinforcement and active recall in short bursts can increase knowledge retention by up to 170% and durably change ingrained sales behaviors.” While this may sound very academic, a team of researchers at Harvard has shown that using a combination of interval reinforcement and active recall in short bursts – bite-sized pieces of information delivered over days or weeks – can increase retention by up to 170% and durably change ingrained sales behaviors. This is precisely why game-based applications, optimized for engagement and long-term knowledge retention, are quickly becoming a must-have for forward- thinking companies. These solutions reinforce core market, product and competitive messages and selling skills by engaging your reps in a series of fun, scenario-based selling challenges, pushed directly to their mobile device. Sales challenges, based on your training materials and other go-to- market information, can be completed in minutes a day, and information is presented repeatedly over spaced intervals until the content is mastered. Built-in social mechanics, rich media and comment tools keep it fun, so that your reps stay highly engaged while they improve recall of sales-critical skills and messages. And the key benefit for front-line sales managers? Real-time insight into your sales team’s capabilities. Now you’ll know what they REALLY know, and be positioned to execute targeted coaching that guarantees your reps are equipped for the value- added conversations today’s customers require.
  8. 8. 8 | Is Your Sales Enablement Solution Really Built for Sales? Applying technology to bolster selling skills, reinforce key messages and improve sales performance requires them to be: Simple - to both learn and use, ensuring reps will participate. Fast - how much time must reps devote on a daily basis? Convenient - can reps access the solution in a time and place that works best for their on-the-go lifestyle? Engaging - what motivation does the solution provide to keep reps coming back for more? Measurable - what reporting and analytics are available to help managers target performance issues and develop appropriate coaching strategies? Qstream’s onboard analytics engine provides sales managers with detailed dashboards highlighting performance, engagement and proficiency metrics, as well as weekly email status reports highlighting recommended coaching actions. Additional report options, such as heat maps, compare results over time, across teams and regions in unlimited ways, continuously monitoring metrics by topic, role, tenure, geographic location and more to identify team strengths as well as areas for improvement. 7. Ongoing monitoring of message fluency and skills development, over time, is key to lasting performance improvement and can ensure your team stays on track. As your reinforcement plan moves forward, the right reporting and analytics tools can give sales, marketing, even training leaders, the visibility they need to assess adoption of key concepts, and make sure the strategic goals of your kick- off are realized.
  9. 9. 9 | About Qstream Qstream is a mobile sales force enablement platform that helps reinforce key market, product and competitive messages by engaging employees in a series of fun, Q&A-based sales challenges, delivered directly to their mobile device. Qstream’s SaaS solution is used by eight of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies, industry leaders in technology and financial services such as Xerox and Charles Schwab, as well as a growing network of solution partners who deploy Qstream-powered programs to transform their clients’ sales teams. To learn more, visit Qstream.com, follow @Qstream on Twitter, or like us at facebook.com/Qstream.
  10. 10. p: 1-855-GO-QSTREAM +1-781-222-2020 e: info@qstream.com W: Qstream.com Copyright Qstream, Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

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