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Jan through Feb is the season for sales kickoffs, 70%  of B2B companies conduct a sales kick-off with the intent to align the sales org on vision, strategy, sales methods, and products the company wants to sell in the coming year.
On average $2,000-$5,000 per sales rep is spent over a few days of physical or virtual off-site. Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success teams get together and hear from the CEO, CRO, VP of Sales, and Product Leaders. A typical company of say a 100 field people (sales and customer success) would spend $500,000 to $1M over 3 days.
So do these events really work?
Sales Kickoffs sure feel great! The people, the camaraderie, the speakers, the food, the offsite location what’s not to like. Anyone that has been to a sales kickoff would realize that while they are a great team-building activity they may not be very effective in helping products sell. Research shows about 46%  of sales reps say they had a good experience with their last Sales Kickoff but can’t remember too much. While 15% of sales reps rated their SKOs poorly. That’s over 60% of sales reps that did not get much out of the Sale Kickoff. As a product manager, sales kickoffs can be a great opportunity to align the sales team with your products. 71% of sales reps reported that the most important takeaway from the sale Kickoffs were company vision and/or new information on products and services.
However, sales kickoffs almost always feel like a missed opportunity.
I was a Director of Products and Solutions at a leading data company not too long ago. My products accounted for a significant part of our revenue. It was my job to make sure the sales team was enabled on my product (not all companies have a dedicated sales enablement team, and even when they do product managers play a crucial role working with the sales enablement team). Over 2 days, our sales reps would be introduced to all the products including the products ones I was leading. I felt sorry for the sales reps. They had to sit through 10-15 presentations over 2 1/2 days. No human being could assimilate this much information not even Einstien.
So what does a typical sales kickoff looks like
The typical sales kickoff is 2-3 days of offsite/virtual gathering of Sales, Marketing, Sales ops, Sales Enablement, and Product Management teams.
- Win/Loss Reviews: Sales leaders pick a few key deals and review why a deal was won or lost
- Deal Clinics: Breakout sessions where sales reps can get there deals reviewed in a safe peer environment
- Customer Interactions: Hearing directly from customers has tremendous value.
- Solution Theatres – Product leaders provides a high-level roadmap of products in focus for the year ahead and a roadmap. They also answer questions that sale teams have and learn from what’s working and whats can be improved
- Leadership Session – Top management provides a key vision and direction to the company
- Sales methodology – Key sales techniques are covered either by internal sales leaders or external subject matter experts
- Etc: Hiring best practices, Coaching techniques etc
Product Managers can leverage many of these sessions to help get their products across. Although, one session actually talks about the product road map, remember every single session is focused on how to find the right customer, how to get them to understand how your product would help them, and to get them to take steps to buy. As a Product Manager, you must think about what tools you can provide the sales reps to be successful out there. When your products sell, you succeed. Your success is tied to making your sales teams successfull.
So what can product managers do to better leverage sales kick offs
- Make it easy to understand: If your sales reps dont understand your product then your customers won’t understand it either. Make it simple to talk about. Read about the MOM test http://momtestbook.com/
- Make it easy to prospect: Your sales reps must be able to look at their existing customers or prospects and quickly identify potential buyers. What are the personas of your key user types? How can you find them in the haystack? Give some examples.
- Make it easy to communicate: When a sales rep has identified a prospect to speak about your product. How can they talk about your product in a way they instantly get easily? This is easier said than done. You may have to speak with several early customers yourselves to get a feel of what customer relate to,
- Make it easy to sell: Many product managers spend little time designing product pricing structures. First, understand how the product it priced and make it simple for your customers to adopt. You could make it free until the next billing cycle where it gets included in the renewal, you could attach to budgets that are readily available. There are lots of methods here
- Make it easy to deploy: So many times, good products have failed because they took forever to deploy. Your product experience is the full experience from deployment to user adoption. Design it and make it as efficient as you can.
- Make it easy to be a reference: When can your customers realize value from your product. The sooner they can realize the value the sooner you can ask for a referral and hence impact more sales
Research shows 38.60%  sales reps want to learn skills that take qualified opportunities to close and 21% want to learn more about Company’s vision and/or new information on products and services. That’s a total of about 60% of sales reps that would like to learn about how to position, communicate, and sell your product.
However, expecting sales reps to assimilate all of this in 2 days is asking for too much. While you act on the above strategies remember assimilation is successful only over time and in smaller sizes that are easy to consume. In the world of Facebook, LinkedIn, and ticktock sales reps have come to expect information throughout the day, from peers and in small portions. So look at the sales kickoff as the beginning or continuation of a continuous product and market communication journey. Where product managers (along with sales ops and enablement teams) work through the year to empower the sales teams with tools and insights they need to communicate and sell your products to the right customer.
- Sales Kickoff Research of 464 B2B sales reps, managers, and VPs- VorSight
- How Market Leaders Use Acceleration Summits to Make the 2020 Number – SalesBenchMarkIndex
- State of Sales Kickoff Meetings- Brainshark
- Research by SBI SalesBenchmarkIndex
👋 Hello, This is the sales readiness team at TeamSync, Welcome to a ✨ once-a-week-free-edition ✨ of our newsletter. Each week we explore relevant topics about sales enablement and sales-readiness. Read our articles and tell us what you would like us to cover.✓