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October 30, 2018

How to Add Some Muscle to Your Sales Kickoff

National Sales Meeting (NSM) and Sales Kickoff (SKO) planning season is here, so we need to think about packing a punch for this year’s event.

But all too often our punch has the impact of a feather, leaving reps vulnerable to competitors. Here’s how to add some muscle to your program so reps walk away with critical knowledge that sticks.

The Disappointing ROI of Sales Training

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Frank Cespedes and Yuchun Lee noted that U.S. companies spend $70 billion annually on sales training (an average of $1,459 per rep). This is almost 20 percent more than they spend on employees in all other functions. 

“Yet, when it comes to equipping sales teams with relevant knowledge and skills, the ROI of sales training is disappointing. Studies indicate that participants in traditional curriculum-based training can forget 80% or more of the information they were taught within 90 days.”

For many of you, this news comes as no surprise. Many studies have detailed the workings of the “forgetting curve.” And the problem is compounded by the way in which sales training is usually conducted: in one-off onboarding sessions and national sales meetings, where reps have their brains crammed with huge amounts of information in a very short time.

Even when sales training is more continuous, reps usually don’t receive enough coaching or rigorous performance evaluations.

Implement Modern Learning Techniques to ‘Add Muscle’ to Sales Kickoffs

Is it time to ditch traditional sales kickoffs and national sales meetings?

No. Rather than completely throwing away everything we’ve done in the past, why not build on what we’ve done already to create something better? Modern learning enables you to pack some extra punch into your national sales meetings (NSMs) and sales kickoffs (SKOs) quickly and cost-effectively—before, during, and after everyone.

Using a modern learning approach, you can easily create learning content that reps can view and review (as many times as they want) before the event begins.

As an example, to supplement their yearly NSM, Pacific Life sends relevant learning content and exercises to the field force beforehand in the form of pitch contests. Managers and subject matter experts create short videos demonstrating what “good” looks like and then send them to the team as a model. Then everyone sends in their version of the pitch and the system surfaces the top 10 based on criteria relevant to the particular offering. The entire team then watches the top 10 and votes on a winner to be highlighted at the NSM. This way, everybody’s gotten the chance to practice before the “live” meeting and show up ready to go deep.

Consider all the information you normally pack into the NSM session. Then consider what you could do with those hours if the basics (operational information, HR policies, etc.) were made available on video for reps to preview on their own time? With the more generic learning done virtually, in-person sessions could be more focused on the types of learning that are best done live.

Also, by keeping track of which reps have done their homework (and which ones haven’t) before the in-person training, sales managers can get a leg up on which employees are may need more – or less – coaching later on.

This is some of what can be done with a modern learning platform before the official training. In the second part of this article, we’ll look at what can be done during and after the sessions.

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