Planning Your 2024 SKO and the Benefits of Virtual Sales Huddles for Sales Teams
Jul 12, 2018 2:17:40 PM
It’s not easy to manage a sales team. Driven by quotas, salespeople are usually motivated by a return on their performance and need freedom to perform. Though sales managers can explain the goals and set parameters such as ideal customer profiles and pricing floors, there’s not much else they can do beyond “train and trust.”
Or is there?
According to McKinsey & Company, the current macroeconomic environment forces sales organizations to run lean. Rather than generate growth, sales organizations must now focus on generating profitable growth—building “productivity engines,” if you will, wherein inefficiencies are eliminated, and every dollar invested in sales yields the maximum return. To build these engines, McKinsey reports that top-performing companies forego traditional sales workflows and KPIs and instead provide in-depth marketplace and account information and business-specific direction to concentrate and control sales reps’ activities. Examples include real-time customer insights, sales journey-aware recommendations, and technology to predict and prevent churn. And they’re using this information in a regular cadence of sales huddles to align sales activities with high-value opportunities, de-prioritize low-value engagement, role-play customer conversations, problem-solve collaboratively, and brainstorm the best ways to support specific sales actions.
However, a regular series of sales huddles can be challenging to pull off, especially considering that most sales forces are remote. And while sales managers acknowledge that virtual sales huddles are cost-efficient and easy to scale, they often struggle to develop sales team huddle ideas that keep attendees engaged and worry the “forgetting curve” is steep without in-person cues to reinforce learning.
To overcome these challenges and cultivate a transformative—dare we say, “disruptive”—virtual sales huddle experience in 2024, managers should set the tone with a virtual sales kickoff, or SKO. Like an in-person SKO, a well-done virtual SKO will align priorities, motivate your sales team, generate energy around offers and products, and celebrate past successes. Equally important, it will demonstrate to your sales team that a digital-first experience can be as active and absorbing as an in-person meeting and lay the foundation for the series of virtual sales huddles to follow.
The first step to hosting a virtual SKO is to set goals that align with the company’s strategy. For example, is your organization focused on upselling this year? Then, one of your goals will likely be to empower the sales team to sell within existing accounts. In this scenario, your SKO would include education and training on the support mechanisms to make this happen, such as technology that forecasts renewals and identifies expansion opportunities. Or perhaps your organization is prioritizing net new business, in which case the goal of your SKO might be to improve prospecting skills, and your agenda could include education and training on ideal customer profiles, outreach activities, and value messaging.
Regardless of your goals, ensuring you have the right people at your SKO is essential. According to Salesforce’s State of Sales report, 77% of sales reps say collaboration with departments such as marketing and finance is instrumental to success. Therefore, consider all the stakeholders involved in your sales process, like sales enablement, customer service, and finance, and invite these teams to join. Remember that the beauty of a virtual SKO is that travel restrictions don’t bind your attendee and presenter lists, allowing you to gather a multitude of teams to create alignment, invite customers from different industries to present their use cases, and allocate budget toward high-profile speakers located anywhere in the world.
Even when held virtually, you’ll likely discover it is challenging to prioritize agenda items and create the right mix of culture, celebration, education, and inspiration. Poll your sales team to learn what they would prefer. For example, do they need more training on your CRM? Are they struggling with product messaging? Or perhaps they’d like to hear best practices from top sales reps. Build your agenda around their pain points to foster a meaningful experience and growth.
Keep in mind, too, that one of the benefits of a virtual SKO is that the content you present can be “evergreen.” Presentations and demonstrations can be available on-demand long after the event has concluded. Likewise, you have more flexibility with the agenda and can prioritize live events and make pre-recorded sessions available for sales reps to review on their own time. Just because your SKO takes place over two days doesn’t mean you can’t make three days of content available!
Participants should leave your virtual SKO excited and ready to perform, but this won’t happen if your agenda is laden with one-way presentations. You need to infuse your virtual SKO with interactivity. Virtual event technology plays a key role here, and you should be sure to tap into features such as chats, live Q&As, polls, gamification, and virtual whiteboards.
You can also take advantage of the flexibility of virtual event technology to mix up your formats. For example, follow a live-streamed presentation with a virtual escape room activity. Or schedule a fun, pre-recorded video after a live Q&A. Remember that you are competing for attention against email inboxes, dogs, and Instagram feeds, so optimize your agenda for active listening and participation.
Once you’ve set the stage for digital-first sales meetings with a virtual SKO, you can schedule a regular cadence of virtual sales huddles to communicate updates, facilitate productive conversations, reinforce training, and sustain motivation. These huddles should be short, ideally no longer than 30 minutes, and take place at the same time each day or week, depending on your preferred cadence. As with the virtual SKO, you’ll want to ensure you set the right goals, invite the right people, build the right agenda, and create the right experience for each huddle.
Here are some sales team huddle ideas:
Set a goal for the day, week, or until the next huddle and anchor your agenda to this goal. The goal could be an activity, i.e., increase prospecting emails by 10%. Or maybe it’s an outcome goal, i.e., ensure all enterprise deals forecast for the quarter close on time. You could also set a learning goal, i.e., educate all reps on the new contracting process. Consider asking your reps for their sales team huddle ideas to increase engagement and reinforce accountability for performance.
Remember that regardless of the goal, it’s important to use the sales huddle to motivate the team. Don’t be afraid to get creative and play games or launch quizzes that align with your goal. The right virtual event technology will allow you to easily pull this off and keep your reps focused.
One of the benefits of a virtual sales huddle is that you can invite any number of people to attend from anywhere in the world. This means that if your goal for the huddle is to educate reps on the new contracting process, you can easily invite someone from the legal department to answer questions.
It also means reps have an unprecedented opportunity to meet and connect with their colleagues without waiting for an in-person meeting. Lean into this benefit and create moments that foster connection. For example, require attendees to turn their cameras on and kick your huddle off with an icebreaker. Or ask each rep to share a win or success and then celebrate as a team. Be sure to leverage the chat feature in your virtual event technology and set an example for the team by using it yourself. Remember, too, that it’s your job as the sales manager to ensure everyone speaks. Pay attention to group dynamics and reign in reps dominating the conversation. Likewise, invite reps who are not participating to share or comment.
If you’re struggling to bring your team together virtually, don’t hesitate to ask your reps for their sales team huddle ideas. Many customer meetings now take place virtually, and chances are they have good tips and tricks for relationship-building.
A best practice is creating template(s) for your virtual sales huddle based on your goal(s). For example, if the purpose of your sales huddle is to motivate the team to close all forecasted deals before the end of the quarter, your template could include:
Alternatively, if your goal for the virtual sales huddle is coaching, your agenda template could include the following:
Creating an agenda becomes easy once you have your template(s) in place. What can be difficult, however, is sticking to it. Remember that a virtual sales huddle is different from a traditional sales meeting. It should be brief, compelling, and focused. This is not the time to hold an in-depth review of the company’s go-to-market strategy and such topics should be reserved for meetings outside the sales huddle. Similarly, be prepared to moderate conversations for time and invite reps to meet with you outside of the huddle for anything that requires an extended discussion.
The last thing you want is for your sales reps to view virtual sales huddles as a nuisance or a waste of time. In contrast, you want them to leave these meetings fired up and wanting more, so you must be thoughtful about your chosen topics and activities.
Here are some sales team huddle ideas to get started:
Once again, ask your reps for their sales team huddle ideas. Career salespeople will have participated in countless meetings and training and can be a good resource for activities that make an impact.
As with an SKO, you also want to mix things up and employ different formats for your virtual sales huddles. For example, in one meeting, you might invite a guest speaker to present; in another, you might conduct a survey. Differentiating the structure of your huddles will allow you to experiment and test what works to hold reps’ interest over the long term.
Virtual sales huddles are a secret weapon in top-performing sales organizations. Done right, they can create and sustain momentum, establish and reinforce best practices, continuously improve performance, and ultimately drive more revenue. And by partnering with 6Connex, you can not only mine our experts for creative sales team huddle ideas but also leverage the latest in meeting and event technology to hold huddles that are constructive, interactive, and engaging to keep your reps excited—not exhausted—by the experience.
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