If you’re planning a sales kickoff or national sales meeting, you may be wondering how to transition an in-person meeting to a virtual one. You’ve got to roll out 2021 plans, launch products, train on messaging, and get new hires up to speed.
This meeting might be the most important one you’ve ever planned. We’re facing Zoom fatigue, time zone conflicts, and work-from-home pressures. You’ve got to keep your teams on track.
George Donovan, Allego’s Chief Revenue Officer, is an experienced sales leader who—like 90% of B2B sales organizations—shifted from an in-person to a virtual team last year. In this interview, he shares his advice for delivering a great virtual sales kickoff.
>> Watch How to Run a Virtual Sales Kickoff to learn more from Allego’s CRO George Donovan.
What are the most important things a sales leader should accomplish at a sales kickoff?
George: “There are five key elements of any sales kickoff. The first is to recognize people for individual and collective performances in the prior quarter or year. Sales people crave that. They deserve it, and it’s a key element of a meeting.
“The second is to set the direction. What is the North Star for the next year? What’s the goal? What are the objectives? What’s the go to market? I think of that in terms of the four “Ss”:
- What’s your strategy?
- What is the structure of the team that you want to deploy against that strategy?
- Who is the staff? Who’s doing what? Make sure people have roles and clarity.
- What skills do you expect them to have? If there are any skill gaps, how are you going to help them develop those skills?
“The third key component of a sales kickoff is education. What is something that you want to train the team on? That could be a new message or competitive information. A fourth important element is team building, which is obviously harder to do in a virtual environment. And the last piece is to have some fun. Make sure it’s interesting, interactive and fun.”
How do live in-person events differ from virtual events?
George: “The big difference between live and virtual events is the thing that you’re going to miss the most: the team-building aspect and the camaraderie. Salespeople like that. They like to break bread and have the communal aspect of a sales meeting. Whether you’re having a meal or a cup of coffee or a beer, it’s important to them, and it builds deeper level relationships. And that’s just not possible over a WebEx or a Zoom call. You have to change up your strategy as to how you’re going to incorporate some sort of team building.
“The second element that’s different is time. You’re not going to be able to lock people up on a video call for two days straight. It’s impossible. You need to break up your content and deliver it over a series of days or even weeks.”
How can you keep your sellers from feeling zoom fatigue? How do you keep them engaged?
George: “A big component of a virtual meeting is how to avoid zoom fatigue or video fatigue. I’ll share our story of how we’re planning it at Allego.
“We’re breaking up our content over two weeks. The first component is that I’ll send a video to the team setting expectations as to what’s going to happen each day over those two weeks and setting the direction for 2021.
“Then each business day following my introductory video, we’re going to have a sales executive introduce the topic for the day. This is a very short two-minute video that my team will get every morning in their inbox.
“Later on that day, they’re going to have to dedicate 30 to 60 minutes to either a pre-recorded session or a live session. We’re going to do that every day for two weeks. Ultimately we’re all going to get together for a live session where we’re going to do recognition and reinforce the key components of the goals for 2021.”
What kinds of tools and tech are available to help deliver great sales kickoffs?
George: “Technology is critical to hosting a virtual sales kickoff. As I think about the meeting itself, there are really three elements. There’s the pre-meeting, the live meeting, and the post-meeting.
“For the pre- and the post-meeting, you need a platform and applications—something like Allego— that can help you distribute content to the attendees before the actual live event, whether it’s videos, PowerPoints, PDFs, quizzes, or other learning material.
“You want everybody to have a certain level of knowledge so you can maximize your live time together. And you can’t just send out videos through YouTube. You have to be able to track to make sure people are watching the videos and taking the quizzes. You want to see how they’re progressing and how they’re scoring to ensure that everybody does show up on an equal playing field.
“Then when you’re live, you’re going to need some technology like Zoom or a WebEx to run the event itself. I recommend something that has the ability to break out into smaller groups if you’re a bigger organization, because you want to get into subgroups, into different sales teams or by industry, or however you organize your business.
“Also incorporate some fun. There are free applications like Kahoot, which we use, that allows you to do trivia and games during the live event. Whoever gets the trivia right will get gifts so it keeps everybody excited and engaged in the day.
“The post meeting is really critical and this is where a lot of people fall down. You don’t reinforce the materials that you worked so hard to get across during the sales meeting. How are you going to reinforce the key lessons and the key objectives that you set forth in the meeting?
“We do it via what we call Flash Drills. These are notifications on your mobile devices. It takes about a minute a day. Sellers read a notification or take a quick quiz to reinforce those key components that you want people to remember.
“The second component of reinforcement is taking all that great content that you created pre-meeting or during the meeting, breaking it up into bite-sized chunks, and having it referenceable in a library format that’s easy to find. Salespeople are going to want to go back and reference that content in the coming weeks and months, at the moment of need when they’re in the middle of a deal.”
What’s your advice for organizations kicking off 2021?
George: “My advice for organizations kicking off 2021 is, number one, get some buy in from the sales team as to what they want in the meeting and balance that with what you, as the sales leader, want to get across to the team. That way, they feel like they’re involved in the meeting.
“Second is to drive some energy and excitement in the weeks prior to the meeting. If there’s a bit of a build up and there’s a lot of excitement, when that week or days come, people are really excited about it because you are setting the strategy and the direction for the entire year so it’s super important.
“Do some of the meeting pre-recorded and not live. Save the live section for recognition, setting your direction, and your best speakers. You want your best speakers to be live.
“If you’re going to have pre-recorded and/or live sessions, make sure your presenters practice and are ready to deliver that content. There’s nothing worse than you, as a sales leader, thinking that your presenter is going to be money and then they show up and they don’t meet expectations.
“Another key component is reinforcement after the meeting—making sure that you’re capturing all that great material that you worked hard to put together, and breaking that up into accessible, bite-sized chunks so your team can reference it after the sales meeting when they need it.
“Sales kickoffs are so exciting. Everybody loves them. So put the work into it. It’ll pay dividends. Good luck. Go get ‘em!”
Watch the complete interview How to Run a Virtual Sales Kickoff to learn more from Allego’s CRO George Donovan.