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Now What...Determining the Right Sales Kickoff Strategy During a Pandemic

Sep 02nd, 2021

While so many of my sales reps are enjoying the last few weeks of summer, unfortunately, my mindset is already on the winter months as I contemplate the right strategy for our sales kickoff meeting in January of 2022. I’m sure many of you in similar roles are thinking the same. 

Unlike last year, when there was no choice but to have a virtual meeting, this year is providing me with some angst as I weigh in on what is the right strategy for our company. In doing so I’ve put together some topics to consider when making your decisions. 

First, I would get consensus from your sales leadership team on the priorities of the meeting and what is the expected outcome you are trying to accomplish post-SKO.  Are some of the execs thinking of training for a new product?  Are others thinking of creating a buzz and motivating the team in the absence of a 2021 meeting? In this case, these are two very different goals. It is critical for you to agree on the highest priority. 

Once you’ve established the priority it is important to determine how much time will be dedicated or required to address the your needs, this may affect your decision to go virtual, in person, or hybrid. 

Next, I would then create a cross-functional team to determine what modality is needed to accomplish your goal’s. This group can provide insights into the modality to use- virtual, remote, or hybrid environment. Having different sales reps and influencers on this team will provide you with a broader perspective of the advantages and pitfalls of each of these options. What is the best learning environment to meet that priority?  Granted, if you have a complicated product, it could be hard to train people in a virtual setting. However, if the reps are familiar with the product but only some enhancements need to be reinforced, it is feasible to accomplish this in a fun educational virtual environment. 

After the pilot team offers their recommendation I would evaluate it on the following criteria: 

  • What is the pulse within the organization on travel today? 

  • When is the meeting scheduled to take place, and what cancellation options will the venue provide our company? 

  • Depending upon the location, what is happening with COVID outbreaks? How many people are vaccinated in that area? 

  • How many of your sales reps are open to travel?  Is it likely that my audience would be comfortable traveling and being at this location?  If they are not comfortable, their heads will not be in the game, and whatever you teach them will be a waste of time.  

  • What are the costs associated with this expense? 

I am hopeful that this process will help you determine which approach your upcoming SKO should take – virtual, remote or hybrid.  In the Rocky movies, Sylvester Stallone often said, “Plan B, you gotta have a Plan B”. I urge you to embrace Rocky’s mindset. These are unprecedented times for us in sales enablement. We are all good at our roles because we tend to be comfortable pivoting and embracing change.  You may come up with a decision today and decide differently in Q4.  If you need to pivot, you can walk through these same tips to guide you. Regardless of the direction you go, don’t beat yourself up. Our jobs are hard enough, and you should feel good about your decision.  

Bob Bristol, Senior Enablement Manager at Brainshark, and I will continue this series to help you plan and execute a successful SKO. We will discuss other topics including: 

  • Tips and tricks for a successful SKO 

  • Leveraging internal expertise and knowledge 

  • Getting your customers more involved in your SKO 

If there are other topics you would like to see us cover, please reach out so we can add them to our list.