October 18, 2022
Enable Us Team

SKO Part 4: 12 Learning and Development Tips for Your Next Sales Kick-Off

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You’ve planned all activities for your upcoming sales kick-off event. As you check things off your to-do list, what is your “Training reinforcement and retention strategy”? Often, training at sales kick-offs is seen as a one-time endeavor. But, what organizations don’t realize is the effect it would have on their bottom line. 

In the fourth and final part of our sales kick-off blog series, we discuss how sales leaders can ensure knowledge retention and application after a successful sales kick-off event with tips and best practices from industry experts. Read along.

Reading our blog for the first time? Check out the first three parts of the series here:

  1. Everything You Need to Know About Sales Kick-offs
  2. SKO Part 2 - Guide to Virtual Selling
  3. SKO Part 3: Five Ways Technology Can Elevate Your Sales Kickoff

Are the Training Sessions at SKOs Really Effective?

In our previous posts, we established that a sales kick-off is an excellent avenue to train your sales folks on the various features and benefits of your product, share best practices, and keep them updated about the upcoming product roadmap. However, did you know that 84% of all sales training is lost within 90 days? And there is more. According to the 2021 State of Sales Training report, organizations spent an average of $2,020 per salesperson on sales training in the year, EXCLUDING expenses for the annual sales kickoff event. Imagine investing thousands in a memorable sales kick-off meeting only to see that your sales teams have forgotten half of what was discussed at the event! 

“Companies in the United States have (on the whole) spent an estimated $70 billion on training per year.” - Salesforce

Our Chief Marketing Officer, Cece Lee, recently spoke to two industry leaders — a sales development thought leader within a large FinTech company, and Cyndi Brandt, former Vice President of Global Product Marketing and Enablement at Solera Inc — about the best practices to ensure maximum retention at a sales kick-off. Below, we have summarized the tips and best practices for a successful and truly memorable sales kick-off.

12 Tips and Best Practices to Ensure Learning and Retention During AND After the Sales Kick-Off

  1. Continuous Training - The key to ensuring maximum knowledge retention is continuous training. That means conducting refresher training every two months or quarter, having 1:1 sessions with sales folks to help them hone their skills, etc. Get creative and look for engaging ways to build a habit of “forever learning” in your sales teams.
  2. Create Smaller Learning Groups - If your team is large, break it down into smaller groups. That way, you can ensure everyone gets the attention they need during the training. Having smaller groups also paves the way for planning activities that encourage healthy competition.
  3. Align with Sales Managers in Advance - Before you plan the event, be sure to train the sales managers on what to include in the training sessions. Unless they are fully trained, they will not be able to deliver the training efficiently.
  4. Weave the Training Materials into a Story. Storytelling is a great way to increase retention during training. You can share anecdotes, real-life case studies, and more to maintain the element of interest.
  5. Choose the Right Internal Speaker for the Training Sessions. People often relate to others whom they believe walked in their shoes. For example, choose a sales leader with high numbers or a high-performing salesperson and get them to share their experience on what worked and what didn’t. 
  6. Make Sure the Product is Ready To Go. While it is natural to want to train your sales team about an upcoming product or feature, more often than not, it can have a negative impact on their training. If you’re planning to launch a new product six months after the date of the kick-off, imagine how little the team can retain! 
  7. Incorporate Roleplays after the Sales Kick-off Meeting: Roleplays are an underrated tool to help with knowledge transfer and retention. Sales leaders must take it upon themselves to meet with their teams periodically and walk them through different sales situations. They can then have a roleplay to analyze how their teams react to these challenging situations.
  8. Learning Starts with the Sales Leaders: Inculcate a learning culture within the organization and start from the top. If you don't have the support of the highest sales leader on the fact that learning is an integral part of your organization’s culture, you're never going to get buy-in from the sales managers. 
  9. Poll Your Sales Team on Learning Preferences: Each person learns differently. For example, one research indicated that 58% of employees believe that they remember information longer when it’s visual. Since your team's learning styles may be different, talk or poll them first. Per Cyndi, "Oftentimes, a simple text message can help them retain more critical information than an elaborate document."
  10. Create an environment where your teams feel comfortable asking questions about the product. The objective is to encourage open communication, feedback, and discussion about any concerns sales may have about the product. These questions help a great deal in ensuring information retention and are a good indicator of interest.
  11. Identify the Engagement Opportunities: To enhance your team’s knowledge, skills, and behaviors, consider how you will engage them at each juncture. This includes leveraging gamification to challenge sellers and other teams to earn certifications and badges or implementing rewards for their participation in key activities to reinforce their learning.
  12. Create a Central Online Learning Hub: Leverage technology to ensure you share training material with your entire sales organization. Whether before, during or after the event, your salespeople can access the hub for pre-work or to refresh their knowledge post-SKO as needed.   For example, our customers use our digital room functionality to track a salesperson's progress for onboarding and training. This helps sales leaders understand the team’s progress, areas of improvement, and coaching opportunities. 

Learning Is Not A One-Time, Check-The-Box Activity

Having a well-trained sales force is pivotal to an organization’s long-term success. Companies that invest in sales training are 57% more effective at sales than their competitors. To ensure your teams are up to date with the latest developments in your organization, you must imbibe a culture of continuous learning. As Craig Jordan, CEO and Founder of SaaScend stated on our Selling Smarter Fireside Chat series,

"Align people to that greater vision of the importance of this is going to allow me to help you win more business. Because I'm gonna be able to see things within the system that it enables me to coach you better. That way, we can kind of get ahead of it before we kind of get to a split in the road, and we don't know which direction to drive.”

How do you ensure your teams retain what’s discussed at sales kick-offs? Let us know in the comments below.

Contact Enable Us to learn how our seller and enablement platform can help with your onboarding and training needs.