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Sales Kickoffs and National Sales Meetings—What’s Your Approach?

Now that Halloween is over, you can focus your thoughts on the next frightening prospect: preparing for next year’s national sales meeting (NSM) or sales kickoff (SKO). Knowing the importance of this event—and the fear that all of its great information will go in one collective ear and out the other—we asked some sales leaders about their approach in the form of a brief survey.  

We all know that large-scale sales get-togethers are important for morale, camaraderie, and setting the sales agenda for the entire organization. But most organizations still have not optimized their NSM/SKO approaches to meet the modern learning needs of their salespeople. The survey results showed that most leaders recognize the value of modern learning concepts like collaboration and personalization, but many have not yet implemented them to enhance the value of large-scale sales meetings.  

For example, the vast majority of sales leaders agree about the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing:



And a majority of sales leaders say that their organizations accommodate the different needs and competencies of their sales learners:


But when it comes to sales meetings and kickoffs, only half of sales leaders say that their company provides any pre-work, personalized or otherwise, so that reps could spend more time on collaboration instead of sitting through lengthy lecture-style sessions:



Knowing that reps are innately competitive, slightly more than half of the respondents use competition as a basis for building knowledge and engagement. Of those who do, however, sales leaders report impressive results over twice as often as those who don’t think competitions add much value:



Finally, as anyone who is familiar with Ebbinghaus’s famous forgetting curve knows, learning retention deteriorates rapidly without reinforcement, and NSM/SKO events—which typically set the tone for the forthcoming year—are both expensive to stage and important to remember. One would think that making sure participants remember key concepts from such events is really important, but most survey respondents provide only limited resources in this area:



What conclusions can we draw from this research?  

We know that NSM/SKO events won’t be disappearing anytime soon, and anyone (like me) who has been through several of them knows they provide great value. The data shows that while many organizations use competition, continuous learning, bite-sized content, spaced reinforcement, and other approaches to increase the value and even reduce the cost of their meetings, many others still have yet to fully embrace modern learning approaches to their key sales events. For those who don’t, keep in mind that just like you, your competition is looking to get the edge, and making your NSMs and SKOs more effective could be the difference between making—or missing—next year’s number.

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