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

Episode · 4 months ago

Sales Kickoffs: A Discussion

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Sales kickoffs can take many different forms -- the good, the bad, and the game changers. The Force Management team has helped countless sales leaders execute meaningful Sales Kickoffs that launch organizational change and impactful results. What separates the best from the rest? What are the steps leaders can take to make their SKOs a game changer? Facilitators Brian Walsh and Antonella O'Day share what they've seen work best and key mistakes to avoid.

Here are some additional resources on SKOs:

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I'm a big believer that, ifyou're going to take the time to do this, bring your managers in earlyor keep them late, whichever one makes sense, and get them engaged inbecoming better position coaches has that's their job. You're listening to the audible ready podcast. The show that helps you and your team's sell more faster. Willfeat your sales leaders sharing their best insights on how to create a sales enginethat helps you fuel repeatable revenue growth, presented by the team afforce management,a leader in BB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hello, I'm Rachelplatneller. Thank you for joining us for this conversation on sales kickoffs, thegood, the bad and the end the game changers. I'm joined by twoof our seasoned sales leaders, Brian Wash and Antino a day. Hello toyou both. Hello Rachel. All right, I came up with that name myself. It sounds pretty dramatic. No pressure, though, for this conversation, but both Brian and Anton Ella have been through their fair share of saleskickoffs as raps leaders and now helping our own clients execute transformative sales initiatives aspart of sales kickoffs. And I know you both have have seen it all, and so today we're going to talk about how you can set your ownas Ko up for success. So let's just start with a broad question andI'd like to get both of your perspectives on what do you think the bestsales kickoffs do and to now? I'll start with you. That is agood broad question, so I'm going to give it two things specifically that Ithink the best ones do. The first one is I think it takes myexperience has been that it takes the sales team took place. They weren't priorto that meeting. So when you think about a sales kick golf, itreally has to be all about the team and delivering value to them. Whenyou think about the mandate's lost taking them out of the field to execute theSko, it's significant and if it's not giving the sales team something that makesup for that time loss and then some, that's a huge miss. The secondthing that I think, or my experience has been as it relates tothe best saleskickoffs, is it should inspire the team. Let me tell youwhat I mean by that, because my experience has been that inspiration comes froma few different places. Number One, rewarding success and accomplishments of the salesteam, sharing stories of success shared by customers and finally, what is successgoing to look like going forward? So let me break those down a littlebit. So there's something more valuable than recognizing your people. They work hardand recognizing them in front of the whole team really build appreciation for leadership andit builds loyalty and that's really priceless. Then there's this whole concept of sharingstories or, as we call them, proof points of customers success. There'sso, so valuable and incorporating them, whether you bring a customer into doa live discussion or if you do customer video clips, it just reinforces inthe sales team's minds why they're company like, why are they delivering value to themarketplace, not to mention they walk away with these great stories to addto their arsenal tools. And then, finally, how is success going tobe defined going forward? Companies are evolving so fast and you know in ourworld, what is the upcoming you're going to look like? What can thesales team do to contribute? Communicating that is really key, so that thewhole team is aligned going forward. Yeah, really good points, Brian. I'dlove to hear your thoughts as well. I'm just going to dove tail ontwo things I was writing intanello was speaking, and these are things thatI learned along the way and they attached to the first two bullets. Thefirst around recognition and rewarding people. I had a boss that used to saywe're going to recognize and reward people who actually deserve it, and he usedto tell the story about how, you know, you go to a kickoffor presence but meeting and people start getting recognized and you can see other peoplein the audience grumbling because they're saying things...

...in themselves like why did that personjust get recognized? They couldn't find the front door of their account, youknow. And this guy, Bryant's point not me different, briant, wasyou have to recognize those who actually have earned it. I think that's reallyimportant, that the how you do some of this kind of stuff can createit a long tail emotional connection for people, which can be the really positive orreally negative. So I think you really need to think through, andthat's just one example of what emotional legacy are we about? To leave whenwe do this thing at s Ko, whether it's reward and recognition, whetherit's some sort of outside speaker, whatever it might be. So that's that'sone add to Antonella's point. The other add I would make around the conceptof stories and proof points, and Rachel, you know how I feel about thatmagic word. How I think organizations have a tendency, both at sKos and another moment, to tell stories that are basically recognition. They're like, Hey, Rachel just got a great win. Congratulations, Rachel, thatwas great for you, great for the company, great for our customer,and that's where they leave it and they never get to Bill Taylor, oneof the founders of Fast Company magazine, had a line that I love whenhe said Rd doesn't just stand for research and development, stands for a ripoffand complicate and it's point was, you know, it'll, at least inthis moment. I take that point to say, when you tell me thestory about the deal that Rachel got, give me something that I can ripoff and duplicate to create that success in my accounts. Get to the how. I'm glad Rachel One, but I need the how that I can thengo replicate. So those would just be a couple of things that I canadd to antemos points. Right, we'll enter to your point, Brian.It's if you don't provide the how you have a sea of people in theaudience saying, well, I don't see myself being able to do that,or that was nice. Yeah, that's not possible when lunch. Yeah,which sort which brings me into this next topic of really making sure that thepeople in the room see the value in what's about to happen. I mean, Aunton Noll, you made the point when you take people away from sellingactivities, that can be costly. So you have to make sure you're gettingreturn on the investment. And when we work with organizations around the SKOS,it's because they're typically launching or in the middle of some sort of change initiativesand the asko becomes a tool to help manage that change, which makes itmore than the events so by. And let's start with you. How doyou ensure the people in the room, or the people on the zoom,however you're doing it? Yeah, really see the value in go stepping awayfrom selling and doing whatever we're going to do. Yeah, and and andmaybe this is a partially answer the previous question. Obviously we all agree yougot to make it fun like that a given right. So let's just getthat out there. I just don't anybody to hear this all. They didn'tsay anything about making it fun. You got to make it fun, ofcourse you do. But specifically to this question, I think there's three bigthings. First, Simon Cine set at best, and it's Great Ted talk. Start with why. Well ahead of IDs KO, as a part ofgetting to the S Ko, you know, I think before you ask anyone topay a price of admission around prework or anything, there is a whyconversation. Why are we about to have this moment? What's the value?This was back to NCHANNEL's point. What's the value of you, for youto come like? Why would we want to spend all this money that peopleare going to get value out of it? So that's first thing. WHAT'S THEWHY? The second is I think you have to lay out for peopleright behind the why, what are the objectives, and what I mean bythat is not just what are we trying to achieve over the course of acouple of days we have together, but what are the objectives in terms ofwhat you're going to do differently walking out the door, like what is itthat we tactically are going to go execute...

...on right and how are we goingto do that? And then, last but not least, some expectations asa result of people buying into the why and understanding the objectives. Some someexpectations at two levels, at the leadership level, that leaders are actually goingto change their operating rhythm to affect the whatever. That change is right,because if you say we're going to change and then leaders don't change our operatingrhythm, nothing changes because you've told people that they should change things but youhaven't made it okay for them to do it. You're only making it okayfor them to do if your leadership changes their operating model. And then nowyou've built the right to create accountability at the individual contributor level. It sayshere's why, here's what we put in place to out you do that.Here's how we're coaching and running the business to affect that change. You nowhave a responsibility to be a part of the change. That's my take.Yeah, and so Ella, I see you nodding feverishly as Brian Tuggy.I love to hear your comments on that. Now. I agree with all thethings that he said. I mean there is really nothing that I couldeven add to, you know, what he said there. I think,you know, the challenge sometimes with some of these events is that very oftenwe want to, you know, do so much during the actual less Kothat we sometimes water down or miss the message because we aren't focused just onthe value that we're delivering to the team. And so that's my word of cautionedto anybody doing these is keep the objectives of it front and center,like what exactly are the outcomes you're trying to get out of this, andlet that be the driving force so you don't get railed on these events.Question that we get a lot when we do as Ko conversations or webinars aboutnot everybody needs stage time. Back to the goals and the objectives at theevent. Your plants. Nah, yeah, it's you know, if the goalis to take a sales team to a place that have I've been before, if the goal is to deliver as much value as you can to theybeave, being more efficient effective, whatever the outcomes are that you're trying toget them to be. You have to be very thoughtful of who you puton stage right if it's not going to directly impact the outcomes that you're tryingto achieve and they shouldn't get stage time. That's not to say that that personor that group shouldn't address the sales team. I think there's so manyother ways they can deliver their message. It just shouldn't be part of theSKL and I've seen so many events where you try to fit ten pounds ofstuff and you know the shortest amount of time and the message gets lost,it gets watered down, sales walks out and they're like, oh my God, wears the Bar, because that was just painful to sit through. AndI know that's not the outcomes of these organizations are trying to achieve, butthey tried to do so much in a very fine out amount of time.So they prioritize like what's the right message, what's actually going to add value andanything else, but some have a different time, day, venue toaddress those issues. Yeah, I gotta jump in on this. I oneof that greatest sales kickoffs I ever went to was run by a guy andhe was he was the guy right I'm everybody reported him, so he wasn'tsomebody just running the kickoff. He was that guy. And his point toeverybody who is coming to kick to to present was your presentation will be deliveredto me a week of had a time and I will tell you what youcan and cannot present and I will tell you if or if you are notpresenting. And I'm sorry you don't like that, but to Antonell's point,we've got to keep on mission. And you know, surprise, surprise,anybody who had an hour was showing up with a deck with forty five slivesin it and he said, he said you can present the following six slides, seven slides, and it was clear to people and it was the most, one of the most effective pick ups...

I've ever been to because when someonewas up on stage, the message so until his point was attached to theobjective and the message was clear and it was concise and it was consumable andthe presenter wasn't under the pressure to race through their slide deck. So Ithink that's a really, really critical point. You have to make it okay tosay no to some things and I think the other thing you got todo is, if you're going to have an objective that's really focused on gettingpeople to do something differently, or whether it's launching a new set of productsor whatever, whatever it might be, get people to find ways in thosemoments for people to apply. Don't just give them a bunch of Info andhope that they're going to apply when they walk out the door. Have momentslike we do when we do some of our things, you know, toapply to a live opportunity, to apply to my territory, to apply toa specific account, those kinds of things. Yeah, I think you know,live opportunities and that breaks up. You mentioned having fun, but it'salso about breaking up the flow of content. We have this concept we called deathby power point and, yeah, really something you want to avoid asituation. Yeah, and you know you mentioned managers earlier, Brian. It'snot just about who's on stage or or the screen. It's about who's inthe room and when you're trying to drive outcomes get momentum. Your managers areso critical about this and, Brian, I know you're really passionate about companiesand equipping the managers. Yeah, you know, it's funny. Specifically,that's chaos. You see a lot of organizations they bring their managers in fora day early and it's a party, it's a or, it's just soor so. It's an initial, I'd say, Rehash, but nobody seeyet. It's the initial hash of what they're about to see the next day, instead of focusing these leaders on getting great at become. You know,your job as a manager is not to hit your goal, your number.That's your ultimate gold I'll get me wrong right. I want to be veryclear. My ultimate goal is to hit the number, but my number onejob on a day to day basis is to create a ten or twelve,whatever number of direct reports I have, that are better because of the interactionsthey have with me. So if you're going to if you're really going todo something like this, well, and you're and you believe in the conceptof start with how and then get great at coaching before you expecting from people, well, that means you've got to get time in these moments to getyour managers great at becoming great coaches. That's what they need and now youcan expect them to go out and do the role that they're that you firedthem to do right, which is to turn people into great skill position players. So I'm a big believer that, if you're going to take the timeto do this, bring your managers in early or keep them late, whicheveryone makes sense, and get them engaged in becoming better position coaches. Passthat's their job. And to Knowella, what have you seen work well whenit comes to managers, there's a number of different things here that I thinkreally you could a manager can leverage to make get the most. That isfull entire process and some of it really ties back to a lot of aBrian as already mentioned. So when you think about I think as a manageryou have to think about this in three different stages. What do I dobefore the S Ko? What's my role during the Esko? What's my roleafter the S Ko? Right, so it's great. I think about thebest manager I've worked with when I think about how I handle some of theseevents. When I was a manager, my first step was I communicated tothe team prior to the s Ko, like what are the key topics weregoing to discuss, what to expect, you know, get their take onI start to get them thinking about it before going to the event, toask them to prepare questions, ask them to come with, you know,ideas and it would really give me, as a manager, some insight who'sdialed in, who are my skeptics, who are my cynics, who don'tpotentially need to have conversations with before, during and after the event and whoare going to be leading my team going...

...forward. During the event itself,I know this is a great opportunity to bring people together. If time allowed, I would bring my whole team together, even if it was over a cocktailat the end of the day. What are your takeaways? What areyou going to apply? What deals do you think this is going to beeffective with? I wanted to give them a voice, I wanted to giveget everybody's take on it. I wanted everybody to hear about it so thatthey continue to think about it through the lengthy event but, more importantly,once the event was done. Yeah, and and then after the event likethat's where I think leaders their work really comes in. You know, there'sa ton of time and effort spent on these as Kos. I can't tellyou how many of them I've attended, and people just all this time,effort and initiatives are rolled out and then okay, go at it like whatare we trying to get out of this and what are you going to putin place to reinforce these initiatives going forward? Are you going to put some gamificationaround it so that it's front and center and you know sales team isfocused on it, and do you have a strategy to keep yourself and yourteam accountable, you know, to it going forward so that you would achievethe outcomes the companies trying to achieve? Yeah, you raised a lot ofgreat points there, Anton, and I know we'll probably have some managers whowatch this conversation that you know the Sko. Is it just something that you're enablementing? Is Planning for you to come to? You can really use itas a manager to improve outcomes on your on your own team? Yeah,absolutely, and you know, if you stay focused on all three of thosetime frames before, during an after and come up with a game plan aheadof time, there's really no reason why you and your team can't, youknow, keep the outcomes that the company setting for. Antona mentioned the sentencecynics in the skeptics brain. I know that's one of your favorite topics andthere's a lot of people present at these skos and when they're presenting they knowthey're dealing with skepticism and in a room for maybe sometimes for valid reasons.Right. So talk through your advice of dealing with that skepticism in the room. Okay, so three groups of people, early adoptors, skeptics and cynics recognizeand reward or early adopters find ways, appropriate way to recognize them for theirbehavior, for what they're doing, because they already see the value,etcetera, and that in and of itself starts to send a message. Butyour skeptics and cynics, first and foremost, are hard to buy for, Kate, because they look a lot alike at first. They're both sitting thereand they're asking themselves the same question. Is this the same old movie allover again? I've seen this. Some means a bunth stage telling me todo something or telling me we're going to do something and nothing's going to change. And that's why they're skeptics, because they've seen the movie before. Somebodygets a bunth stage, does the presentation and then two weeks later, threemonths later, nothing's changed or nothing has been actually enacted whatever. So theonly way to deal with skeptics, it's through action. It's also the onlyway to buy for keep them from the synics, because the way you buyfor Kate and validate, which is what if someone's a skeptic or a cynicis you act. You don't just talk, because when you act, a cynicwill be converted to an adopter. I'm sorry, skeptic skeptics will beconverted through action. Cynics will not. Now you've separated. The skeptics havebeen converted through your action. Your cynics of not, and you can makeyour own determination. But where I came from, we used to make cynicsavailable to industry at large, because if you're truly trying to change, it'sokay. If you want to be a cynic, it just meets you can'tbe here right. I mean, and your skeptics, like I love skeptics. Skeptics are good because they force us to be honest with our selves aboutare we really going to do something different or we just talking? And ifwe're just talking, we're wasting everybody's time and money. So skeptics are goodbecause skeptics will be converted when you actually...

...act. That's it. Yeah,Gosko, you got to prove them you're going to act right, and convertingthe skeptics goes to what you were saying, Antonello. You know, before,during and after, what is in the value there for them? Yeah, I lead into what Brian was saying. For me, skeptics are potentially yourbiggest proponents. Yeah, they just need additional data info, and that'swhy I think it's so important to deliver value early and often at these events, because they have set sat through them before. They sat probably through manythat were completely ineffective and delivered no values. So right off the bat, likethey're evaluating and determining, is this going to be the same, youknow, the same movie? And so the earlier you deliver value and anddelivering value often throughout the entire event, and you can turn a skeptic intoan early adopted you know, just a side topic. They're somebody didn't assessa study a couple years ago. I can't remember was but it was onthe concept of building champions in your accounts and it's interesting. The data showsthat the healthy skeptic is potentially your best champion because when they come to thetable inside of their organization champion and idea people know that they've actually done thework. They're like Aunton Ella. Never bring something forward unless she's done thework. She's a healthy skeptic. If so, there's a Antonello's point isright on, right, on, right. It's we've all been in those areor we say, well, even this person's on board. So yeah, that is right, right, and one thing I wanted to say.It would say too, that I know that we have said before, isthere's nothing wrong, especially if your company is in a certain type of situation, of calling skepticism out. You know, I know that we've done this before. I know. Here's why this time is going to be different.Now they can't speak words, right, they've got to be backs up withactions. But Yep, there's nothing wrong with calling that out in the roomat a sales kick O. I totally agree with you. Nothing bath toagree. Yeah, I think candor and, you know, admitting to pass theerrors just shows you know you're in tune with what actually is going on. Yep, right, and it makes what else you say very authentic.Keep Right. People believe that you're not just, you know, giving itthe once over. Anton, let's go to you on this. Where doyou think sales leaders make their biggest mistakes? I feel like we've talked a littlebit about them, but I'd love to hear where you think they makethe biggest mistakes. So a few things here. I mentioned this before,like too much conversation, talking at the group. I think the most effectiveor as chaos, have a lot of interaction, a lot of like breakoutgroups, a lot of conversation where the best ideas win amongst the sales teamitself. So create time to make sure that they have an opportunity to speakand share idea. Is Anything that shows lack of alignment across the organization.That's a big miss and Brian brought up a great point about that leader thatyou worked with that had that saw everybody's presentation ahead of time. I've satthrough some s Kos where another department comes up delivers are presentation and it isnot aligned with the overall company goals and that is a massive miss. Notleveraging managers and top sales performers to talk and present at these events. Ithink that's a huge mistake. It's great to have leadership there. You wantto hear from the top team and a lot of these events, but Ithink when people say like what or I got the most out of very oftenthey'll say hearing so and so taught, because they're the closest to the customerand I want to know what they're doing to be successful because that's going toimpact me and what I do. So really incorporating top sellers, top managers, to really talk about the day in the life and what they're doing tobe successful. I think that's really helpful. And then being thoughtful of who youknow you bring into train, whether...

...it's a motivational speaker or an outsidecompany, really making sure that everything ties together nicely and making sure you understandthe message of what they're delivering. I've seen great motivation and all speakers andyou know training organizations. I've seen horrible ones and that could completely suck theair out of the room. So you want to make sure that you vetthose out and that it's very much aligned with your goals and the culture ofthe company. Yeah, Antonello, you mentioned you having a lower level persontalk and I it made me think of the point Brian was bringing up earlierabout providing the how they want to know if they're the closes the customer howit's getting done. Would that be not providing any how to be one ofthe biggest mistakes, Brian, you think leaders make? What would you said? Yeah, the the whole sko lives at this high level, the academicor theoretical or, you know, go do this kind of level, butthey never get into the Ho how do you effectively do it? You know, I go back to some of the best moments I had in my salescareer was when the company would come forward and say, Hey, here's exactlyhow we did this deal in this healthcare organization or this manufacturing organization, andyou happen to have twenty healthcare organizations in your assignment. We want you torun the following play. Not Go get a win, we want you torun the following play. Here's how you run this play. You know thisover multiple months or multiple weeks to create some sort of understanding as to whetheror not there's a fit and then how to drive the deal forward, likereally specific how. That's where I'm in total locks up with Antianilla and theninto small groups where we're really planning how we're going to execute those kinds ofthings. When we walk out of the room. So that that's one thingI would just say to kind of add on, and maybe you kind ofhit it already, but I think there's two things that that you got tothink about if you're the leader, and I I first think is you cannotadvocate your responsibility for the effectiveness of an s Ko to other people. AndI want to be clear. I'm not suggesting that the CRO needs to doeverything, but I will tell you that the cro is the person that therest of the route or the VP sales, whatever your titlets. That's the personthe rest of the group is going to look at it when it's allsaid done, and say, with this any good or not? And so, whether you like it or not, every person who steps up on stageis a reflection of you. I'm sorry, you ain't getting up on stage ifit's my organization unless I've seen exactly what you're going to present and wehave complete alignment. That's the first thing. The second thing is then the leaderand Bill McDermott, who is at least a one point he was theCEO of sap. He still might be. A bill came out of Zeros andwhen bill was running one of the two divisions in North America. Iwent to a kickoff that he did and I was fascinated, and I stillremember this, by his ability to not only kick off but then, fromspeaker to Speaker, he would show up on stage after every speaker or everysecond speaker and he'd have something like this in front of them and he havethree or four big things from the last person or the last two people,and he was very effective at string the entire meeting together. That was probablythirty years ago and I was a brand new manager and I still remember thatlike he was able to make it very consumable and I think that's just agood example of what your role is when you're the person running the Sko.So just maybe something full, more tactical. Yeah, and all of those thingshelp with engagement and making people. Yeah, they focused in the room. Both of you have given such great insight today is as it relates tosales kickoffs. I love to just close with with some final thoughts, somebottom lines. Antonella, what do you...

...have if I could just kind ofsummarize a lot of the thoughts that we discussed are in today's session. Ithink the biggest takeaways I would want somebody to think about going into their sKos. have key members of the sales team involved in the process, likedon't plan this in the Siloh, make sure it's super relevant to them andget their input on it. Make sure that what is included delivers tangible resultsof the team. Like this is all about outcomes and, you know,change going forward. Like make sure there is a tremendous amount of value.Give the sales team time to share, think and apply. Like give themthe time during the session itself to share, thinking, applause, and then lessis more. They would be remiss if I don't say it, recognizefor extraordinary performance. Often, so often. Love that. Yeah, Bryan,everything plus one, and have some fun while you do it, youknow. But that's probably doesn't need to be said. But I can't adda teendans and I think she nailed it. Okay, great, well, thankyou so much for joining me for this conversation, Anton and briant.I appreciate it pleasure. Thanks for the game, yes, and thank youto all of you for listening to our conversation on sales kickoffs. We've linkedup a resource page in the show notes and you can always find them underresources at force MANAGEMENTCOM. Thanks for listening. At force management we're focused on transformingsales organizations into elite teams. Are Proven methodologies deliver programs that build companyalignment and fuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the ability to execute thegrowth strategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. Theproof 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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