Sales leaders relish the annual sales kick-off as a chance to inspire sellers to meet their goals and share best practices among peers across territories. But this year, kick-offs will likely be virtual. But how can sales leaders use lessons learned from the past few months of virtual sales to run a successful kick-off and support frontline sales in the longer term?
“Many sales leaders are already exploring ways to equip and engage sales teams by investing in new tools for virtual success,” says Doug Bushée, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “And instead of cancelling plans for their kick-offs, they are changing the venue to a virtual environment that can serve as a platform to inform, inspire and connect their teams to prepare them for the year ahead.”
Investing in virtual selling infrastructure
Sales enablement leaders are adjusting the mechanics of virtual selling, equipping their frontline sales forces with virtual selling playbooks (including modified sales pitches), virtual buying personas and scenario-based selling practices that leverage multiple, frequent digital interactions with customers.
“Sales leaders agree that the ability to gain customer trust and confidence continues to be the primary focus area for successfully closing deals, even in a virtual environment — and these tools are all designed to solidify virtual customer relationships,” says Bushée.
To adjust for the reality of virtual selling:
- Promote organizational branding. Display company branding during virtual meetings to convey brand messaging and stay top of mind with customers. Use company-branded virtual backgrounds or company-specific screensavers highlighting the brand logo, motto, tagline or a customer testimonial.
- Demonstrate value faster. Get to the point more quickly in a virtual meeting than you might in a face-to-face setting. Promptly share critical buying information, discuss product features and provide demos, Develop tools like virtual customer conversation playbooks, polls or questionnaires to help sellers capture the attention of customers immediately, and deliver value quickly and effectively.
Running successful virtual sales kick-off events and trainings
Sales leaders are struggling to conduct “business as usual” kick-off events over a virtual platform. Sessions need to be structured differently to remain collaborative and engaging. To deliver high impact in a virtual setting:
- Divide the kick-off into multiple smaller sessions. It’s hard to conduct single day-long kick-offs for geographically dispersed sales teams, but holding multiple regional meetings leads to presenter fatigue and reduces quality. Consider breaking up the event into shorter sessions that take place over several days or weeks.
- Reinforce desired behaviors. Build in activities to help sellers apply what they’ve heard and change behavior in the long term. Knowledge checks, expert-led small group discussions and guided manager-led activities all help sellers process how what they see and hear relates to their accounts.
- Build morale with diverse programming. One of the biggest challenges of virtual sales kick-offs is inspiring sellers and building morale. Complement large group sessions with small group meetings, taking advantage of the immediate access that technology can provide. Plan executive drop-ins, customer Q&A and top performer best practice sharing as ways to celebrate the success of the team and motivate them for the coming year.
By enabling frontline sales to navigate the world of virtual sales, sales leaders position their organizations to gain customer confidence and trust, accelerate their renewed go-to-market strategies, and drive growth.