The Missing Piece to Annual Sales Kick-offs


Posted By Qvidian | Nov 10, 2014


Sales kick-off meetings…we’ve all attended them, and we’ve all experienced at least a few that were excruciatingly bad. Here’s the all too familiar rundown: Some kick-offs try too hard to come up with a memorable event or activity. The awkwardness spreads from anything like iron chef competitions with sales reps and managers running around with cutlery and meat in their hands – to those that become a lashing session for sales leaders, laced with threats of how things will change and reps better watch out. No extreme is good. But because there’s no stopping the sales kick-off, we need to look at how these meetings are critically important to sales organizations’ success, and how we can improve, and prolong the effects of sales kick-offs.

Half of sales reps miss quotaNewsflash: Half of your reps are missing quota 

Yet you’re likely to gloss over this each month and quarter because at least your top reps are over achieving and making up the difference. But that doesn’t change the startling fact... I’d love to try this in other departments – take engineering – half the developers checked more than their share of code for the release – but half did not. We didn’t need those features, right? Or how about with my marketing team – half of us meet our goals. Just imagine: Programs only made half their lead goal this month, but it’s okay because we tweeted twice as much as planned! Don’t think that would fly with my CMO.

Sales is the only profession where this is acceptable.

But given the industry’s high-pressure culture, perhaps all of this isn’t too surprising after all. For sales leaders, when things are bad, the most logical thing to do is to sell more. And when things are good, they “capitalize on the opportunity” and sell more. No wonder high turnover is so common.

Now, compound this with the time it takes for sales reps to ramp up. On average time to revenue on new hires is a lengthy 9-12 months. How much does that cost for each new hire, and what if you could reduce that by just 1 or 2 months? And probably my favorite – over half of B2B customers select and are loyal to vendors based on sales experience over price, features, or anything else. OVER ANYTHING ELSE.

Nonetheless, sales organizations are complex and involve many moving and interconnected parts (intra and inter departmental). Succeeding often means systemic change. Aligning the sales team to meet business objectives might only need small incremental improvements or it could mean wholesale transformation. In any case, we’re tackling the need for a behavioral shift – changing the way reps sell. We know this is not easy to initiate and harder to sustain. But if done in the right way, the sales kick-off can be a truly powerful vehicle, the catalyst for communicating the need for change and engaging the team to meet a common goal. At the same time, the meeting is of course just a point in time and it’s critical to carry these key messages forwards and integrate them into the selling process. That’s the real challenge at hand.

The majority of the more or less “successful” sales kick-offs I’ve attended combine the key elements of communicating strategy and company vision, recognizing success, training on new products or selling skills and rallying/motivating the troops. New initiatives are announced, and are followed by introductions of new processes, new tools, competitive intel, new pricing models, new company plans, commitment to train and coach the team – a real buzz takes off. If you could bottle that energy and consume it throughout the year, I guarantee we’d move the performance needle. But here’s a reality check, within a few days, maybe even by the time your plane touches down on the return journey, the buzz has gone and the day job takes over. Not just because we have short attention spans, but because it’s hard to combine change (often behavioral) with the pressure to perform and make quota. It’s like changing your tires…

There’s something missing. Here’s a clue: REINFORCEMENT.

Check out this latest Webinar for must-know insight on how reinforcement, the secret sauce in your sales kick-off initiatives, can both affect and prolong your sales kick-off initiatives.