Like so many things, the National Sales Meeting (NSM) is undergoing an unprecedented change this year. Typically, an NSM is not just a time to share goals, align on new initiatives, and learn new strategies for the upcoming year. It’s also a time for peers to network and interact, and for companies to solidify their culture. An NSM is that call to action before entering a new year—and it’s vital for it to be just as inspiring and engaging as it is informative.
The question companies are facing this year is how to keep the spirit of your NSM alive? How can you train your employees on essential information while also reenergizing them to face a new year?
With so many people experiencing Zoom fatigue, the key to pulling off a successful virtual sales meeting this year will be understanding how to make it engaging. Technology will play a key role in this. Using interactive learning platforms, peer-to-peer networking, and asynchronous video technology to deliver the information your sellers need, in the most engaging way possible, is a great place to start.
Dos and Don’ts of Hosting a Virtual Sales Meeting
Don’t host four days of video conference calls.
Your first thought might just be to take your typical NSM agenda and do the same thing via web conferencing. However Zoom fatigue, time zone conflicts, and work from home distractions mean this system is just asking for your audience to “zoom in and zone out.”
Do mix asynchronous content with live sessions.
Maximize engagement and make the most of participants’ time by presenting a mix of live and pre-recorded content. Bring your meeting to life by interspersing live presentations with pre-recorded video exercises and user-generated content created by top salespeople and trusted SMEs. Crowdsourcing this content will also minimize the obstacle of having to create all the content that would normally be delivered live.
Don’t be bound to last year’s timeline.
The idea of having several intensive days of training and networking made sense when you were bringing everyone together physically and had to get everything done in that time frame. Traditionally the NSM meant taking people out of the field, putting them up in a hotel, and hosting a live event, so it was only feasible for it to last a few days. When we think about the most conducive way to learn however, cramming everything you need to absorb into a few days isn’t really the best for long-term learning. This year, take advantage of one of the few positives of being physically spread out and spread out the learning as well.
Do start early.
Consider rolling out pre-work before the event. There is a lot that can get done before an NSM even starts. Try sending product information, new messaging, or sales presentations prior to the event to give reps time to absorb the information. This allows them to learn it at their own pace and come to the live portions of your event ready to participate and ask valuable questions.
Don’t overlook new hires.
If your company is in the position to be hiring right now, have pre-work geared toward new hires as well. Have new hires create introduction videos that can be sent out before the meeting and ask current employees to interact with them. This kind of pre-work can go a long way in getting a new hire accustomed to your company culture, especially when the typical in-person networking can’t happen. Additionally it makes them feel like they are actually joining a company meeting and not just a Zoom full of strangers.
Do ensure compliance.
Another kind of pre-work can focus on compliance. Pre-record compliance videos for reps to watch prior. With modern enablement platforms, you can track who has watched them to completion, have interactive knowledge checks, or follow up with quizzes to ensure valuable compliance information is being retained.
Don’t make live portions one-way lectures.
After months (that felt like years) of working from home, getting the whole team together in one live meeting can be a fantastic treat! The last thing your reps need are more talking heads and one-way lectures, so make that time count.
Do make live sessions count.
Use the live portions of your meeting to focus on fostering connections. This means making the majority of it focused on sharing best practices, questions and answers, simulated customer interactions, and role plays. For the live presentations, think about the highlights of previous NSM meetings. Analyze presentations from those events to identify dynamic speakers and hot topics that are likely to inspire conversations. Those are the things you’ll want to highlight with live video sessions.
Don’t use a firehose approach.
There’s a ton of information shared during the duration of a typical NSM, Even with pre-work and a mix of live and asynchronous training, that doesn’t discount the sheer quantity of information that a rep needs to take in. No matter how perfectly executed your NSM is, your reps are bound to forget some things.
Do mitigate the forgetting curve.
Even the best sales meeting will fall victim to the forgetting curve if the content isn’t being reinforced. For critical information, serve up reinforcement exercises after the meeting at a regular cadence. This ensures that your reps are remembering some of the critical ideas long-term. Make all the information covered in an NSM easy to review afterward. Turn the topics into bite-sized content that’s searchable so that the minute a rep realizes they forget something covered in the meeting, they can quickly and easily find their answer.
The Big Take-Away
The big take-away here is: Don’t just try to recreate your last National Sales Meeting via web conferencing. Think about what you want to accomplish and optimize this year’s meeting for a virtual format. I know that’s easier said than done, but by rethinking how your NSM is organized and using modern technology, it’s definitely possible to kick your year off to a great start.
To learn how to have an outstanding virtual meeting, download your copy of Re-Thinking the National Sales Meeting: How to Run a Virtual Sales Kickoff During a Pandemic today.