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

Episode · 8 months ago

Sales Kickoffs: A Discussion


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.

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I'm a big believer that, if you're going to take the time to do this, bring your managers in early or keep them late, whichever one makes sense, and get them engaged in becoming 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. Will feat your sales leaders 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 BB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hello, I'm Rachel platneller. Thank you for joining us for this conversation on sales kickoffs, the good, the bad and the end the game changers. I'm joined by two of our seasoned sales leaders, Brian Wash and Antino a day. Hello to you 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 sales kickoffs as raps leaders and now helping our own clients execute transformative sales initiatives as part 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 own as Ko up for success. So let's just start with a broad question and I'd like to get both of your perspectives on what do you think the best sales kickoffs do and to now? I'll start with you. That is a good broad question, so I'm going to give it two things specifically that I think the best ones do. The first one is I think it takes my experience has been that it takes the sales team took place. They weren't prior to that meeting. So when you think about a sales kick golf, it really has to be all about the team and delivering value to them. When you think about the mandate's lost taking them out of the field to execute the Sko, it's significant and if it's not giving the sales team something that makes up for that time loss and then some, that's a huge miss. The second thing that I think, or my experience has been as it relates to the best saleskickoffs, is it should inspire the team. Let me tell you what I mean by that, because my experience has been that inspiration comes from a few different places. Number One, rewarding success and accomplishments of the sales team, sharing stories of success shared by customers and finally, what is success going to look like going forward? So let me break those down a little bit. So there's something more valuable than recognizing your people. They work hard and recognizing them in front of the whole team really build appreciation for leadership and it builds loyalty and that's really priceless. Then there's this whole concept of sharing stories or, as we call them, proof points of customers success. There's so, so valuable and incorporating them, whether you bring a customer into do a live discussion or if you do customer video clips, it just reinforces in the sales team's minds why they're company like, why are they delivering value to the marketplace, not to mention they walk away with these great stories to add to their arsenal tools. And then, finally, how is success going to be defined going forward? Companies are evolving so fast and you know in our world, what is the upcoming you're going to look like? What can the sales team do to contribute? Communicating that is really key, so that the whole team is aligned going forward. Yeah, really good points, Brian. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well. I'm just going to dove tail on two things I was writing intanello was speaking, and these are things that I learned along the way and they attached to the first two bullets. The first around recognition and rewarding people. I had a boss that used to say we're going to recognize and reward people who actually deserve it, and he used to tell the story about how, you know, you go to a kickoff or presence but meeting and people start getting recognized and you can see other people in the audience grumbling because they're saying things... themselves like why did that person just get recognized? They couldn't find the front door of their account, you know. And this guy, Bryant's point not me different, briant, was you have to recognize those who actually have earned it. I think that's really important, that the how you do some of this kind of stuff can create it a long tail emotional connection for people, which can be the really positive or really negative. So I think you really need to think through, and that's just one example of what emotional legacy are we about? To leave when we do this thing at s Ko, whether it's reward and recognition, whether it's some sort of outside speaker, whatever it might be. So that's that's one add to Antonella's point. The other add I would make around the concept of stories and proof points, and Rachel, you know how I feel about that magic word. How I think organizations have a tendency, both at s Kos and another moment, to tell stories that are basically recognition. They're like, Hey, Rachel just got a great win. Congratulations, Rachel, that was 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, one of the founders of Fast Company magazine, had a line that I love when he said Rd doesn't just stand for research and development, stands for a ripoff and complicate and it's point was, you know, it'll, at least in this moment. I take that point to say, when you tell me the story about the deal that Rachel got, give me something that I can rip off 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 then go replicate. So those would just be a couple of things that I can add 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 the audience 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 the people 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 selling activities, that can be costly. So you have to make sure you're getting return 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 initiatives and the asko becomes a tool to help manage that change, which makes it more than the events so by. And let's start with you. How do you 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 away from selling and doing whatever we're going to do. Yeah, and and and maybe this is a partially answer the previous question. Obviously we all agree you got to make it fun like that a given right. So let's just get that out there. I just don't anybody to hear this all. They didn't say anything about making it fun. You got to make it fun, of course you do. But specifically to this question, I think there's three big things. First, Simon Cine set at best, and it's Great Ted talk. Start with why. Well ahead of IDs KO, as a part of getting to the S Ko, you know, I think before you ask anyone to pay a price of admission around prework or anything, there is a why conversation. 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 you to come like? Why would we want to spend all this money that people are going to get value out of it? So that's first thing. WHAT'S THE WHY? The second is I think you have to lay out for people right behind the why, what are the objectives, and what I mean by that is not just what are we trying to achieve over the course of a couple of days we have together, but what are the objectives in terms of what you're going to do differently walking out the door, like what is it that we tactically are going to go execute...

...on right and how are we going to do that? And then, last but not least, some expectations as a result of people buying into the why and understanding the objectives. Some some expectations at two levels, at the leadership level, that leaders are actually going to 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 operating rhythm, nothing changes because you've told people that they should change things but you haven't made it okay for them to do it. You're only making it okay for them to do if your leadership changes their operating model. And then now you've built the right to create accountability at the individual contributor level. It says here'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 now have 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 the things that he said. I mean there is really nothing that I could even add to, you know, what he said there. I think, you know, the challenge sometimes with some of these events is that very often we want to, you know, do so much during the actual less Ko that we sometimes water down or miss the message because we aren't focused just on the value that we're delivering to the team. And so that's my word of cautioned to 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, and let 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 about not everybody needs stage time. Back to the goals and the objectives at the event. Your plants. Nah, yeah, it's you know, if the goal is 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 they beave, being more efficient effective, whatever the outcomes are that you're trying to get them to be. You have to be very thoughtful of who you put on stage right if it's not going to directly impact the outcomes that you're trying to achieve and they shouldn't get stage time. That's not to say that that person or that group shouldn't address the sales team. I think there's so many other ways they can deliver their message. It just shouldn't be part of the SKL and I've seen so many events where you try to fit ten pounds of stuff 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. And I know that's not the outcomes of these organizations are trying to achieve, but they 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 and anything else, but some have a different time, day, venue to address those issues. Yeah, I gotta jump in on this. I one of that greatest sales kickoffs I ever went to was run by a guy and he was he was the guy right I'm everybody reported him, so he wasn't somebody just running the kickoff. He was that guy. And his point to everybody who is coming to kick to to present was your presentation will be delivered to me a week of had a time and I will tell you what you can and cannot present and I will tell you if or if you are not presenting. 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 slives in 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 someone was up on stage, the message so until his point was attached to the objective and the message was clear and it was concise and it was consumable and the presenter wasn't under the pressure to race through their slide deck. So I think that's a really, really critical point. You have to make it okay to say no to some things and I think the other thing you got to do is, if you're going to have an objective that's really focused on getting people to do something differently, or whether it's launching a new set of products or whatever, whatever it might be, get people to find ways in those moments for people to apply. Don't just give them a bunch of Info and hope that they're going to apply when they walk out the door. Have moments like we do when we do some of our things, you know, to apply to a live opportunity, to apply to my territory, to apply to a specific account, those kinds of things. Yeah, I think you know, live opportunities and that breaks up. You mentioned having fun, but it's also about breaking up the flow of content. We have this concept we called death by power point and, yeah, really something you want to avoid a situation. Yeah, and you know you mentioned managers earlier, Brian. It's not just about who's on stage or or the screen. It's about who's in the room and when you're trying to drive outcomes get momentum. Your managers are so critical about this and, Brian, I know you're really passionate about companies and equipping the managers. Yeah, you know, it's funny. Specifically, that's chaos. You see a lot of organizations they bring their managers in for a day early and it's a party, it's a or, it's just so or so. It's an initial, I'd say, Rehash, but nobody see yet. 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 very clear. My ultimate goal is to hit the number, but my number one job 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 interactions they have with me. So if you're going to if you're really going to do something like this, well, and you're and you believe in the concept of 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 get your managers great at becoming great coaches. That's what they need and now you can expect them to go out and do the role that they're that you fired them 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 time to do this, bring your managers in early or keep them late, which everyone makes sense, and get them engaged in becoming better position coaches. Pass that's their job. And to Knowella, what have you seen work well when it comes to managers, there's a number of different things here that I think really you could a manager can leverage to make get the most. That is full entire process and some of it really ties back to a lot of a Brian as already mentioned. So when you think about I think as a manager you have to think about this in three different stages. What do I do before the S Ko? What's my role during the Esko? What's my role after the S Ko? Right, so it's great. I think about the best manager I've worked with when I think about how I handle some of these events. When I was a manager, my first step was I communicated to the team prior to the s Ko, like what are the key topics were going to discuss, what to expect, you know, get their take on I start to get them thinking about it before going to the event, to ask them to prepare questions, ask them to come with, you know, ideas and it would really give me, as a manager, some insight who's dialed in, who are my skeptics, who are my cynics, who don't potentially need to have conversations with before, during and after the event and who are 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 cocktail at the end of the day. What are your takeaways? What are you going to apply? What deals do you think this is going to be effective with? I wanted to give them a voice, I wanted to give get everybody's take on it. I wanted everybody to hear about it so that they continue to think about it through the lengthy event but, more importantly, once the event was done. Yeah, and and then after the event like that's where I think leaders their work really comes in. You know, there's a ton of time and effort spent on these as Kos. I can't tell you 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 what are we trying to get out of this and what are you going to put in place to reinforce these initiatives going forward? Are you going to put some gamification around it so that it's front and center and you know sales team is focused on it, and do you have a strategy to keep yourself and your team accountable, you know, to it going forward so that you would achieve the outcomes the companies trying to achieve? Yeah, you raised a lot of great points there, Anton, and I know we'll probably have some managers who watch 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 it as a manager to improve outcomes on your on your own team? Yeah, absolutely, and you know, if you stay focused on all three of those time frames before, during an after and come up with a game plan ahead of time, there's really no reason why you and your team can't, you know, keep the outcomes that the company setting for. Antona mentioned the sentence cynics in the skeptics brain. I know that's one of your favorite topics and there's a lot of people present at these skos and when they're presenting they know they'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 recognize and reward or early adopters find ways, appropriate way to recognize them for their behavior, for what they're doing, because they already see the value, etcetera, and that in and of itself starts to send a message. But your skeptics and cynics, first and foremost, are hard to buy for, Kate, because they look a lot alike at first. They're both sitting there and they're asking themselves the same question. Is this the same old movie all over again? I've seen this. Some means a bunth stage telling me to do 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. Somebody gets a bunth stage, does the presentation and then two weeks later, three months later, nothing's changed or nothing has been actually enacted whatever. So the only way to deal with skeptics, it's through action. It's also the only way to buy for keep them from the synics, because the way you buy for Kate and validate, which is what if someone's a skeptic or a cynic is you act. You don't just talk, because when you act, a cynic will be converted to an adopter. I'm sorry, skeptic skeptics will be converted through action. Cynics will not. Now you've separated. The skeptics have been converted through your action. Your cynics of not, and you can make your own determination. But where I came from, we used to make cynics available to industry at large, because if you're truly trying to change, it's okay. If you want to be a cynic, it just meets you can't be here right. I mean, and your skeptics, like I love skeptics. Skeptics are good because they force us to be honest with our selves about are we really going to do something different or we just talking? And if we're just talking, we're wasting everybody's time and money. So skeptics are good because 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 converting the 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 your biggest proponents. Yeah, they just need additional data info, and that's why 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 many that were completely ineffective and delivered no values. So right off the bat, like they're evaluating and determining, is this going to be the same, you know, the same movie? And so the earlier you deliver value and and delivering value often throughout the entire event, and you can turn a skeptic into an early adopted you know, just a side topic. They're somebody didn't assess a study a couple years ago. I can't remember was but it was on the concept of building champions in your accounts and it's interesting. The data shows that the healthy skeptic is potentially your best champion because when they come to the table inside of their organization champion and idea people know that they've actually done the work. They're like Aunton Ella. Never bring something forward unless she's done the work. She's a healthy skeptic. If so, there's a Antonello's point is right on, right, on, right. It's we've all been in those are or 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, is there'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 with actions. But Yep, there's nothing wrong with calling that out in the room at a sales kick O. I totally agree with you. Nothing bath to agree. Yeah, I think candor and, you know, admitting to pass the errors 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 it the once over. Anton, let's go to you on this. Where do you think sales leaders make their biggest mistakes? I feel like we've talked a little bit about them, but I'd love to hear where you think they make the biggest mistakes. So a few things here. I mentioned this before, like too much conversation, talking at the group. I think the most effective or as chaos, have a lot of interaction, a lot of like breakout groups, a lot of conversation where the best ideas win amongst the sales team itself. So create time to make sure that they have an opportunity to speak and 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 that you worked with that had that saw everybody's presentation ahead of time. I've sat through some s Kos where another department comes up delivers are presentation and it is not aligned with the overall company goals and that is a massive miss. Not leveraging managers and top sales performers to talk and present at these events. I think that's a huge mistake. It's great to have leadership there. You want to hear from the top team and a lot of these events, but I think when people say like what or I got the most out of very often they'll say hearing so and so taught, because they're the closest to the customer and I want to know what they're doing to be successful because that's going to impact 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 to be successful. I think that's really helpful. And then being thoughtful of who you know you bring into train, whether...'s a motivational speaker or an outside company, really making sure that everything ties together nicely and making sure you understand the message of what they're delivering. I've seen great motivation and all speakers and you know training organizations. I've seen horrible ones and that could completely suck the air out of the room. So you want to make sure that you vet those out and that it's very much aligned with your goals and the culture of the company. Yeah, Antonello, you mentioned you having a lower level person talk and I it made me think of the point Brian was bringing up earlier about providing the how they want to know if they're the closes the customer how it's getting done. Would that be not providing any how to be one of the biggest mistakes, Brian, you think leaders make? What would you said? Yeah, the the whole sko lives at this high level, the academic or theoretical or, you know, go do this kind of level, but they 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 sales career was when the company would come forward and say, Hey, here's exactly how we did this deal in this healthcare organization or this manufacturing organization, and you happen to have twenty healthcare organizations in your assignment. We want you to run the following play. Not Go get a win, we want you to run the following play. Here's how you run this play. You know this over multiple months or multiple weeks to create some sort of understanding as to whether or not there's a fit and then how to drive the deal forward, like really specific how. That's where I'm in total locks up with Antianilla and then into small groups where we're really planning how we're going to execute those kinds of things. When we walk out of the room. So that that's one thing I would just say to kind of add on, and maybe you kind of hit it already, but I think there's two things that that you got to think about if you're the leader, and I I first think is you cannot advocate your responsibility for the effectiveness of an s Ko to other people. And I want to be clear. I'm not suggesting that the CRO needs to do everything, but I will tell you that the cro is the person that the rest of the route or the VP sales, whatever your titlets. That's the person the rest of the group is going to look at it when it's all said done, and say, with this any good or not? And so, whether you like it or not, every person who steps up on stage is a reflection of you. I'm sorry, you ain't getting up on stage if it's my organization unless I've seen exactly what you're going to present and we have complete alignment. That's the first thing. The second thing is then the leader and Bill McDermott, who is at least a one point he was the CEO of sap. He still might be. A bill came out of Zeros and when bill was running one of the two divisions in North America. I went to a kickoff that he did and I was fascinated, and I still remember this, by his ability to not only kick off but then, from speaker to Speaker, he would show up on stage after every speaker or every second speaker and he'd have something like this in front of them and he have three 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 probably thirty years ago and I was a brand new manager and I still remember that like he was able to make it very consumable and I think that's just a good 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 things help with engagement and making people. Yeah, they focused in the room. Both of you have given such great insight today is as it relates to sales kickoffs. I love to just close with with some final thoughts, some bottom lines. Antonella, what do you...

...have if I could just kind of summarize a lot of the thoughts that we discussed are in today's session. I think the biggest takeaways I would want somebody to think about going into their s Kos. have key members of the sales team involved in the process, like don't plan this in the Siloh, make sure it's super relevant to them and get their input on it. Make sure that what is included delivers tangible results of 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 them the time during the session itself to share, thinking, applause, and then less is more. They would be remiss if I don't say it, recognize for extraordinary performance. Often, so often. Love that. Yeah, Bryan, everything plus one, and have some fun while you do it, you know. But that's probably doesn't need to be said. But I can't add a teendans and I think she nailed it. Okay, great, well, thank you so much for joining me for this conversation, Anton and briant. I appreciate it pleasure. Thanks for the game, yes, and thank you to all of you for listening to our conversation on sales kickoffs. We've linked up a resource page in the show notes and you can always find them under resources at force MANAGEMENTCOM. Thanks for listening. 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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