The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

28. The Sales Kickoff: What other sales leaders are doing w/ John Kaplan


There’s no doubt that next year’s SKO will be different from years past. In this episode, we sat down to discuss how some of the sales leaders we work with are approaching their sales kickoffs. Many of them are shifting to sales initiatives. In this episode, we cover: 


- 3 key, sales execution areas of focus for sales leaders who are looking to improve their sales team’s ability to compete 


- How sales leaders are moving forward with virtual, sales training engagements and the outcomes they’re able to achieve as a result


- How to move forward with a virtual event that’s still just as engaging, relevant and valuable for your sales organization


- The mindset elite sales leaders are using to determine what’s best for their sales organization right now


Check out this and other episodes of The Audible-Ready Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.


Here are some additional resources focused on Shifting the SKO

Whether it's in person or virtual. As Ko is a key moment in time that should be directly linked to the strategic priorities of the company. You're listening to the audible ready podcast, the show that helps you and your team's sell more faster. will feature sales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a sales engine that helps you fuel repeatable revenue growth, presented by the team afforce management, a leader in BTB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hello and welcome to the audible ready podcast. I'm Rachel Clip Miller, and today we are talking about sales kickoffs. John Kaplan joints need to discuss how next year's s Ko may look a little different and what best in class sales organizations should focus on for next year. I Hey, John, how you doing? I'm doing great. Rate, good, good. So we talked about as Kos. Every year we start planning our content around this time, late spring, early summer, and there's no doubt that next year's s Ko will be different for a lot of companies. I know that we've talked to many sales leaders who are wondering should they move forward with an Esko, hold off on planning substitute the traditional event for some sort of a virtual sales initiative, maybe a hybrid s Ko. There's a lot of decisions to be made. If you were in charge of making that decision, what do you think you would be looking at, John? Yeah, you know, I know there's a lot of sales leaders out there. They're trying to determine what to do and their way in their options when it comes to shifting to a virtual sales training engagement versus waiting to do and in person event. And you know, I don't think anybody can predict the future and this topic, but you know, it's nice to know that you have great options. So, like always, you should be weighing the goals of the sales organization, you know what they need to do in the next year and how they're going to do it, versus the urgency. And normally when that urgency is weighed against the goals, urgency wins. And so I think it's really kind of focusing on the how, and the how will lead you to building these sales initiatives and the builds cross functional alignment in allow you to execute something that's of really, really high value from a sales perspective. So I think that's the big topic for you and I today is figuring out the how. I think the the urgency around when is really kind of settling itself in the market place today. So let's talk a little bit more as we go through this today, about how to do it. How is it critically important? You know that you you're right, John. You know that you want to bring people together, but... should you do it? What's the best way? How are you best going to align with the organizational growth goals that your company has put forth? And we know, before we get into that, how that there is, though, a little bit of urgency. For some companies out there, waiting is not an option. We talk to companies at the beginning of this pandemic that couldn't wait. Like they could not wait, they had to go forward, and even I know that you've had sales leaders call you that have said they couldn't believe they had considered waiting to bring their teams together and are so glad that they move forward virtually and there are some benefits to going virtual. So before we get into that, let's talk a little bit about what it looks like virtually and why, I might have some benefits for your organization. I think you're right on the you know, the urgency piece. I think that people are just kind of screaming for relationships right now. They're screaming to be connected, they're screaming for needs that they have to be better effective in the field. You, as a sales leader, I think, just do like you always do, focus on your outcomes and then structure training or training sessions around that. We're here in a lot of great anecdotes right now from people that have done virtual instructor led deliveries. You know, some of the big things that people haven't been contemplating. It seems so obvious, but you know, the travel and entertainment savings is a huge one. It's obvious to the you know, to the economic buyers into the CFOs of organizations, but a lot of our friends in the CRO ranks this has been a big area of opportunity. You know the amount of money that is saved on travel and and entertainment. You know, sellers not being out of the field meaning that they can make in a more immediate impact on revenue and and numbers by applying what they learned more quickly. And another thing is you know, we're hang that you can spend, you know, more time on critical concepts being taught rather than trying to, you know, pack all of these critical concepts into a threeday window, and so managers can also be more easily trained well before an event because you're not having to do it when everyone travels for the Sko, and that allows them to get mastery in the concepts, helps them drive reinforcement and then maintaining, you know, lasting results after the event. So, regardless of the current state, elite company should always plan their sko around a broader sale strategy if they want to get an Roi from the event and make a lasting impact on sales performance for the upcoming year. So, whether it's in person or virtual, that is Ko is a key moment in time that should be directly linked to the strategic priorities of the company. This connection,...

...then, will ensure that whatever event you do, whatever discussions you have, they'll be around activities and outcomes that are connected to the sales organizations, important sales initiatives, and that's the key right. It really is, and we've been saying that four years. When companies come to us and say, Oh, we want you for a keynote at our s Ko or can you do something with our s Ko? Our first question is, what are you trying to do as a sales organization and how can you use this time when you bring everybody together to align to the goals of the year? That's always been a game plan, even when you're flying, whether you're flying to Vegas or Orlando or not. Right, that has been the game plan and I was talking to Brian Walsh about this the other day, one of our other facilitators for those of you who don't know him, and I was asking him some questions and he stopped and corrected me. He was saying, you know, in person or virtual, still is live. Right, live is live. You're you're not having somebody watch a video online or like that. Could be remote training. But what we're talking about here is taking that initiative that you want to execute as part of an s Koh that's aligned to a berate, a greater corporate strategy, and how you're going to execute that in a live environment. You might not be able to do it in person, they share, but you can still do it in a virtual environment in a live way. So I think a good shift here John Given the current environment, is to talk about some different ways that we know companies are moving forward, with the virtual event still live, hid training, aligning their as Ko into the broader organizational strategy. First one. We always see this is getting your sales organization aligned on the conversations that they're having with the buyer. Yeah, you know, the big thing for sure is that in this changing environment, your buyers challenges have changed. I haven't met a company yet that I've been speaking to that their buyers have not shifted in some way. Their needs, their desires, their complications, whatever it is. The buyers focus has changed and so your sales teams are trying to do the best they can do to, you know, find the new buyer challenges and aligned the value of their solutions to them. And you know, the challenge has come up for the sellers. You know, when the numbers are behind that value message often turns to shortcuts in the conversation, product selling and discounting. So more often than not these conversation shortcuts result in low margin deals and then your company will have to, you know, deal with these contracts for the long term. So the only way to ensure your salespeople can execute a value base conversation is to ensure your entire company is buy or focused, and that's so critical right now...

...that you have to now more than ever, you have to be focused on the buy or. You have to be focused because they are shifting, they are changing, they are struggling in your value proposition just inherently is going to change. If it doesn't, then you're going to be misaligned. So great opportunity is to use your Skao to train your sales teams on new buy or focus positioning so they can improve pipeline, move deals forward and, you know, negotiate for a premium instead of a discount. Right, all great outcomes. We're all trying to drive out there and are in our sales organizations and we do a lot of sales kickoffs that are aligned to command of the message, the sales message type of initiative. I'll also tell everyone listening to check out our podcasts on aligning with the buyer. We recorded a podcast about aligning to your buyers shifting needs will also attach. By the resources we have on a house, sales organizations can improve their messaging to better aligned with buyers evolving needs. Shifting now to another one we see people moving forward with frequently this time of year, as you're planning for an Eskao type event, deal qualification. A lot of people have this pain point. Yeah, these are really good table steaks. You're bringing up, Rachel, from sales messaging to now deal qualification. So now more than ever, we need to be veracious qualifier. So sales qualification is key to accurately and effectively closing revenue. So some of the common challenges and qualification that we're seeing our you know, right now there's a lot of reps out there that are getting stuck in deals that are just taking too long, you know, which is causing low forecast accuracy and lower wind rates and margins and heavy discounting. So there's also not enough time being spent on uncovering new opportunities and building pipeline. So all those add up to qualification problems in the organization. And again, you don't have time to wait. So if you're getting kind of a stomach ache listening to me and you're also having a conversation about when to do an s Ko, do we wait, do we not do an s Ko, or whatever you decide to do, don't wait to do it because I think these deals are real right now and they're just getting, you know, magnified. So every deal in your pipeline is at risk when you have sellers who can't qualify correctly in managers who don't hold them accountable. So the organizations that make their teams veracious qualifiers will be the fastest to recover when these in these economic challenging time. So you know, aligning your sale's kick off with a new qualification process can give you your sales organization the tools it needs to be effectively closing and moving deals through the pipeline. And you can use your Esko to implement a customized sales...

...qualification process that enables your reps to qualify opportunities faster, improve forecast accuracy and inquie increase whin rights. Right. We always say, and like you said, voracious qualification is the key to maintain in a healthy pipeline and when we look at our forecast we want to know that those deals are real, especially in this environment. I just recorded a podcast. I mentioned Brian, but he and I just did a podcast on how to make medic work for your organization. Many of you know, medic very popular. Qualification methodology a lot of organizations use. We always say that the power of medic is it's so simple to remember, but it has a lot of depth when it's especially when it's customized for your organization. So be sure to check those out in the show notes as well. Got Lots of stuff in the show notes for people out there today, John. Awesome. So the last area focus is negotiation. One thing you've mentioned a lot is stop the discounting. We need to stop the discounting and if you are getting too many discounts across your desk asking for approval. Those often are tied to qualification. It's tied to messaging, it's creating capturing value, but also it's tied to negotiation and we often say the best sales organizations and make negotiation a process and not an event. I love that saying. Make it a process, not an event. It's related to everything we've talked about today, Rachel. So positioning value is a process, not an event, qualification is a process, not an event, and now this topic, the third topic we're bringing up now, negotiations is a process and not an event. So you know, when sales teams are able to instill value in their opportunities early and often they can preserve margins even during a pandemic. So this fact is why we refer to the sales negotiation process as an organizational competency, not a skill. And a lot of times I like to ask leaders, can you say for certain that your sales organization has this competency? So that's a rhetorical right now, but it's like for many of us, it just really, it really kind of hurts the stomach. So one way you can tell is when your sales reps closed deals at high margin. Do they know how to repeat their performance in achieve the same results in there other opportunities? So again, you can use your Sko to operationalize a value based negotiation process that enables your sales teams to close every opportunity at a high value repeatedly. When you're fighting to close every opportunity, it's critical you get your organizational line around what a good deal looks like for your organization. Are you confident you have a widely accepted, formal definition of what determines a great deal for your company? It's time to get there and then,... Koh is a great way to do it. Yeah, I think also mentioned that we have a ton of negotiation resources that I'm going to link. I just recorded a podcast with Tim Kato, sort of our inhance negotiation expert. He's so good on this idea of making negotiation a process and not an event, helping organizations move that forward. We did a podcast where I just asked him all of our frequently ask questions we get from customers around negotiation. He just went through them. It's really, really good information. Go ahead and check that out in their resource section. As companies consider virtual sales transformation initiatives as KO hybrid events, their sales teams and your the managers are going to be wondering what am I going to get from this type of the event? How is this going to work? Usually we go to Vegas and have a big blowouts. It's going to be valuable, interactive, engaging to I to sit on another zoom call, zoom call and we've been talking a lot today about what the company's going to get out of putting some energy around doing a great live virtual event. But it's really important for sales leaders out there to really think of, as you say, John, to an user. What is that salesperson going to get from sitting in front of that computer in a virtual setting. Yeah, so the good news is because I have a lot of conversations with leaders about this right now. They're there, many of them, and we all want to be with each other. We all, you know, we were designed as human beings to build relationships and to nurture those relationships and to invest in those relationships. When you really think about it, the big feedback that I'm hearing is most people are just afraid that those are at risk as we move to these virtual environments. And so I think it's not whether or not the world is going to become virtual versus in person, it's just where we are today and where we are going to be for probably a little while to come is in this environment of, you know, like Brian Walsh said, these virtual live environments or instructor led virtual environments. So here's the good news that I just want to give you some spirit. We've all been presented with change, whether we wanted to or not, we've had to change and I just want to commend the people listening that. You know, if you're listening to this podcast and you're keeping up with these PODCASTS, you you've already changed and you've changed greatly this year. So it's becoming the norm. M So change is becoming the norm. So introducing change, I'm just trying to give them, the leaders, some spirit here. So introducing change is probably not going to be as big as you think it is in most cases. Slot a lot of people like to fly everybody to vegue US or fly everybody to Europe or fly everybody wherever they're in, when we...

...might not have the opportunity to do that. Let me give you a little a little spirit. We just finished in engagement with a client and coming to a theater near you, we're going to do a testimony on them. It'll be awesome and then when you see it you'll know exactly what I'm referencing. But they were a five time buyer of our services. The economic buyer and the champion were five time buyers of our services at different companies before, and they were pretty adamant about waiting and getting people together when the time was right and and they were concerned about a virtual environment versus and instructor led in person environment. And the feedback that we received was fantastic and and the you know, basically that the experience for them and the end users was the best that they've ever had. And let me tell you some specifics that they mentioned. There was more time to prep there was more time to be used for application of the learning instead of teaching of the learning. It was more about application of the learning and in the upfront preparation was where the tip worth where the teaching happen. And oddly enough, the feedback was that this was a more intimate delivery between instructors and groups and individuals, because one of the things that we do, Rachel and it's not so much talking about what we do and how we do it. We can do that at a later time, but we're very careful in these virtual instructor led environments that we have the ability, using the technologies and the delivery capabilities of technologies like zoom and those types of things, to be able to group people in smaller groups still have big total numbers of people to be learning, you know, the the concepts in general together, but then a lot of the learning is kind of like in these micro groups and that was great feedback for us that that's where a lot of the intimacy and the relationships were still able to be had. So I am very, very bullish. I am very, very pleased and the feedback that we're getting in. Again, if you're leader out there, I think that you don't have the opportunity to wait. I'm not telling you don't do in person or do virtual or what have you, but do not wait for some of these critical concepts that we're talking about, because your people are really, really in need right now. Yeah, it's a it's a great time because of the shifting environment, people are open to change, to find a way and take advantage of the opportunity, as you said, to find way to ways to invest in your sales people's success, moving forward around a broader strategy,...

...and we all probably have ritual strategies. Giving the environment and moving forward with a live event, virtually or something is is a great way to rally your troops around executing in the in the next quarters, in the next year. So, John, give us the bottom line as we wrap here. Yeah, so I don't think waiting appears to be a common strategy. I think it's pretty urgent right now. Your people need development. I would stick to your guns and stick to investing in sales initiatives, investing in things around alignment. Don't look just to improve nitch skill sets. Look to do things that can move the needle, as you always have done in the past, whether or not it's virtual or whether or not it's in person, whether it's virtual instructor lad. I think the good news is you have options and I think your people are more ready for the change than you probably are giving them credit for. So on, word and upward, and we stand ready. At force management we're having a blast right now. We had to pivot massively our business into this virtual environment, but I've never been more proud of force management and our solutions than I am today. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Will leave it at that. I also say, Johnny know, it's all about the outcomes and when you focus on creating and an event or a training or some sort of a solution for your organization, that is a clear path to getting your outcomes. It will be successful. So thank you, thank you for joining me for this conversation today. John Pleasure the blast. Thank you to all of you for listening. Be sure to check out the Pleathora of resources I've put in the show notes and thank you for listening to the audible ready podcast. At force management we're focused on transforming sales organizations into elite teams. Are Proven methodologies deliver programs that build company alignment and fuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the ability to execute the growth strategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. The proof is in our results. Let's get started. Visit US at force MANAGEMENTCOM. You've been listening to the audible ready podcast. To not miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

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