By Jason Cunliffe
Vice President, Thought Leadership and Sales Enablement Practice
When it comes to training the sales team at the next sales kickoff meeting, create a program designed to challenge existing assumptions about buyers and the selling process. Sales kickoffs after all, are the ideal opportunity to reset salespeople’s understanding of the selling landscape and confront the inherent challenges as a result.
Dispersed sales people are gathered together in one location, allowing sales executives to deliver a singular message about the new realities of selling in today’s dynamic marketplace. At the same time, training sessions can be tailored for each salesperson’s specific role — in effect giving the sales team members both a view into the overall goals of the organization and individual guidance as to how they personally can contribute to those goals.
Balance Mandated and Elective Topics
One of the keys to engaging the sales team is to have training sessions that balance both mandated material and elective topics. Certainly, sales executives want to convey sales enablement messaging that will promote organizational objectives. By all means, hold training sessions that offer prescriptive advice on meeting whatever objectives the organization has established. Yet salespeople often have their own individual goals for their careers – topics that enable them to grow and advance as sales professionals. In addition to required sessions, include elective breakouts focused on career and personal development as part of the training program, and promote them internally prior to the event.
Ideally, the elective topics should be gleaned from feedback sales people have provided throughout the year. Think of performance reviews for example. Are there any common themes that emerge as far as areas where salespeople want to improve? If so, mine these areas to come up with a selection of elective training sessions and let your sales team know about them. Attending a sales kickoff meeting requires a time commitment away from the field as well as away from family for many on the sales team. Make it a worthwhile experience by providing training opportunities that are personally relevant alongside those that are organizationally meaningful — and give members of the sales team the ability to choose from a list of electives that are right for them.
Keep Program Design Simple and Straightforward
As you ponder a training program, make sure that you make it easy for attendees to figure out which sessions they should go to; make it clear which sessions have been designed specifically for them and what they can expect to get out of them if they attend. State the value to them upfront — so they don’t have to figure out for themselves whether an elective is right for them or not.