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Five Ways to Improve 2013 Sales Kickoff Meetings

It is that time of year again where companies pull together their sales teams for the highly anticipated [i.e. dreaded] annual kickoff meeting.  During the typical training session the sales leader or the marketing guy will try to stuff 100lbs of information into 10lb brains all compressed into 50 minutes. That’s an awful lot to absorb and retain especially when the selling teams are already battling a splitting headache from the team bonding events of the night before.

Here are 5 ways you can turn this one time sales training and enablement event into a year long selling advantage.

Be kind to your selling teams

For product marketing mangers, sales trainers and sales operations managers the annual kickoff is the single most compressed way to get information to the field. Unfortunately this is like drinking from a fire hose or actually several fire hoses all at the same time for the field organization.  Be hyper-aware that learners have a capacity limit.  During individual sessions, focus on the most important aspects of the topics and don’t overwhelm the audience with details.  Use this time to tell exciting stories of how others have been successful and how customers have succeeded. Stories stick much stronger than features, functions, speeds and feeds.

Add context to your sales materials & training content

Sales teams, especially those geographically distributed, don’t have the luxury of informal conversations that reveal the bigger picture behind a sales tool.  Extend the value of selling content by including “insider” information with every resource to help the sales teams better understand when, where and why to use different pieces.  A simple paragraph or set of instructions can dramatically improve the utilization of the sales resources and product content.

Take your training handouts digital

Nobody wants to carry around a binder with printed copies of Powerpoint presentations and sales collateral.  So this year take training handouts digital and aggregate all of those great resources into one place.  Training materials should go beyond the presentation, they should include real world examples, links to supporting web content, access to training videos and webinars.  Don’t sell yourself short on the value of a well rounded training companion that has all of those details you just won’t have time to get across in  face-to-face sessions.

Make every session actionable

Don’t fall into the rut of preaching to the sales teams like they are an audience of cabbages.  Take the opportunity to collaborate with the group.  Ask questions during your session and make it interactive to turn it into a learning experience for you too.  At the end of each session give the audience at least one action to complete after the kickoff meeting is over.  This will help to keep the selling teams engaged and help remind them of the valuable points you made during the training session.  Examples of take away actions could be “3 things to go and tell each of your customers” or “Share a customer success story with every prospect.”

Turn one time training into a recurring program

Sales Performance International (SPI), world renown experts in Solution Selling, says that retention dramatically drops off when there isn’t a continual learning program in place.  According to SPI’s own research it takes just 5 weeks for the average learner to forgot 50% of the materials.  That number climbs to 84% in just 16 weeks. There is a tremendous opportunity to increase sales team productivity by changing the way training is done.  Implementing a continual learning program where information is distributed to the team in an ongoing fashion is just one of the steps you can take.

David Abramowski is a career product marketing leader and co-founder of Zoomstra, a Seattle based software company that helps organizations take their sales training content to the Cloud.

 

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David Abramowski is a technologist turned product leader. David was a co-founder of Morph Labs, one of the first Platform as a Service plays on AWS. He was the GM for Parallels Virtuozzo containers, enterprise business, and most recently he is the leader of the product marketing team for the IT Operations Management solutions at the hyper growth SaaS company, ServiceNow.