By Jason Cunliffe
Vice President, Thought Leadership and Sales Enablement Practice
IDC recently had the privilege of speaking with Michael Labate, the head of program development and operations for SAP’s global Social Selling program, who shared fantastic insights into how he has been successful in integrating his content in to SAP’s sales kickoff meetings.
From Labate’s perspective, it’s critical to understand the overall value your topic and content can add to sales kickoffs; from a before, during and after standpoint. We learned Michael begins with asking, ‘WHY?’. Why will people care about his content? Why will it benefit the sales kick-off and make an impact?. In an organization the size of SAP with extraordinary innovative topics that compete for audiences at the sales kick-off, it’s important to remember that attention spans are limited, so the content must absolutely make an impact to those who consume it.
As Labate sees it, a kickoff event is an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. “I like to think of these events as a significant advantage to help people learn how to modernize their selling behavior that can result in bigger opportunities and bigger deals,” Labate says. Doing this often requires significant promotion internally to drive awareness among those salespeople who will be attending the kickoff. Prior to the event, “Don’t tell, but rather SHOW, them the value,” Labate says. “The more people become intimate with the value, the more likely you’re content will be selected for integration into the kickoff agenda, as well as a high likelihood that people will pay attention that attend,” he adds. Michael begins his journey by establishing a community of advocates who ultimately help usher the story arc for SAP’s Social Selling program into the sales kickoff. “Social Selling is about reacting to a change in buying behavior. It’s not proactive. We know that social behaviors at SAP result in 5x larger deal sizes and +4 percentage points higher conversion in pipeline value. We MUST tell this story at our sales kickoff meetings because it means making, or exceeding, quota!”.
During the event, the messaging should have a clear call to action. In the case of social selling and SAP, Labate wants attendees to understand why they need the training and enablement for their particular roles. To reinforce this, Labate believes that attention must be paid to what attendees can do when they return to their hotel — not just post-event activities, but post-session activities. Take advantage of opportunities presented by mobile and CRM systems to push content and give attendees tasks immediately. “Make it fun and engageing”, Labate says. Content can be in the form of quick snippets or micro-lessons — anything designed to reinforce the message and engage the attendees.
Content delivered via tools gives organizers insight into how much attendees interact with the material — a good implicit metric to gauge whether the event has the intended impact. To measure the impact of a kickoff event more explicitly, don’t underestimate the power of simply walking around during the proceedings and talking to attendees about their experience. Ask about impressions: Do you see the value? Do you feel compelled to take action? Is there anything that is not clear that needs improvement? The benefits of these kinds of questions are twofold in that they inform the qualitative impact of the current kickoff meeting, and they provide guidance as to how to improve the next sales kickoff event.