What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas..... or should it?

Once a year, sales support organizations around the world gear up for the beloved Sales Kickoff. This is the magic conference that reflects on past accomplishments, sets expectations for the upcoming year and usually injects the sales force with new knowledge intended to turn them into ninja sellers. Sales Kickoffs are held in exotic places meant to make the sales force feel loved and appreciated -- like Vegas!

Having been a member of a world-class sales organization, I've not only attended many of these kickoffs, but I've even been a team member in charge of organizing the content for the event. I love them!! They bring renewed energy, a sense of camaraderie, and when the sellers are going home, their heads are full of new ideas and strategies that will surely land them on the top of the company's leader board.

But, the question is -- will they really implement what they learned? Or, when faced with challenging selling situations, will they fall back into their old habits? And, the more important question is HOW WILL YOU KNOW??! Millions of dollars are invested in these events every year with only subjective feedback being the barometer of success.

Here are 3 things to keep in mind as you noodle on how you will be answering to your executive sponsors this year:

  1. Align your training with what's on your scorecard - one of the biggest challenges is determining what new ideas, approaches and skills to bring to your sales force. Often, out of desperation, the training deployed is the "hot" commodity in the market. The training that has the loudest buzz; the biggest promise to skyrocket your sales. STOP! Don't fall into that trap. Start by thinking carefully about your current sales scorecard. Where are a majority of your sellers falling short? Which sales performance indicators need the biggest boost - and which training focuses on the behaviors/skills that can impact those indicators. Moving your decision making in this direction will help you land on the right training to introduce to your sellers.
  2. Have a solid support strategy in place - eliminate the reputation for providing a "training du jour" at your annual kickoffs. What you want is to change the DNA of your sellers and the only way to cultivate that type of transformation is to have a strong support strategy that will steadily reinforce your new skills and behavior shifts. Measurements that we have conducted have shown a 10-20% lift in skill adoption when strongly supported by managers who coach.
  3. Measuring behavior change isn't really that hard - It starts with knowing what the learning objectives are, understanding how they play out in the rhythm of sales execution and finally, figuring out how that impacts the sales performance indicators you've identified. Great sites like Kirkpatrick Partners or ROI Institute will teach you the methodology behind this concept. If you want an independent, third-party lens on this measurement, Beyond ROI has been conducting measurement studies for over 10 years and would love to help you actually execute on this process.

Take a look at this success story and think about presenting these type of insights to your executive sponsors this year! It's easier than you might think, and more necessary than you can realize.

Cloning your Top Performers

In every company there are those illusive TOP performers, the ones that make plan every year in what seems to be an effortless fashion. The question is, what’s their secret sauce?  How do you replicate this success?

The anatomy of a successful seller has many facets:

Innate Characteristics

Skills/Selling Behaviors

Coaching and Support

Use of resources and tools

Let's take each category and drill down on what you would want to know to understand their success.

Are your sellers in the right role?

Everyone is wired differently.  Some people can talk to anyone and get energy from making new "friends", others prefer to deepen relationships and are more comfortable selling deeper into accounts. No rocket science here!  But, the question is how do you know which sales role is right for a new person joining your team?  Some people do a great job asking "behavioral based" interview questions that can give them a fairly good sense of a persons preferences and fit.  But, there are great assessments out there that can scientifically help you find the right candidate for any sales role you have.  My vote is to take a more scientific approach rather than gut-instincts that can vary between hiring managers.

What are they DOING differently?

Undoubtedly, your top performers are behaving in a specific way that helps them bring in more business.  They have a skill set that fits in your selling culture and almost guarantees them success.  The magic question is: WHAT are they doing better and more often than the rest of the sellers on your team?  After helping clients assess their sellers' behaviors for over 10 years, Beyond ROI has established a database of over 300 selling behaviors/skills.  We've perfected a methodology that can determine which of these 300 skills your top performers are masterful at and then uncover gaps within the rest of the sales force that indicate where your training priorities should be.  

Does support matter?

There is a big buzz in our industry right now around skill development coaching -- well... a buzz up in sales training and enablement groups, not so much at the front-line manager level. Sales managers already have a challenging job with more work than they typically have hours in the day.  So, if you are going to ask a manager to take on another important task, giving them a tool that helps them laser-focus exactly where they can support their team member is what you want to do.  The MyView Coaching Profiles from Beyond ROI will show a manager exactly where each team member stands in effectively using the KEY SKILLS that the organizations TOP PERFORMERS use on a regular basis.  This type of tool increases the likelihood of productive coaching conversations ten-fold.

Have you given them the right tools?

Once again, top performers are a great barometer to tell you which sales tools and resources are needed to support their sales process and conversations.  Getting feedback and understanding how the sellers use these tools is critical to the company but, the question is: Will they provide that feedback to an internal resource?  Beyond ROI is an independent, third-party consulting company that collects information with promises of anonymity and then provides companies with aggregated insights that help them be more efficient and supportive.

So when you break it down, the secret sauce isn't that complicated.  The question for you is this: Can you continue to guess at training and support methods, or do you want to be intentional in how you build your sales teams in a way that guarantees your success?  The choice is yours!