Tag Archive for sales training

Five Ways to Improve 2013 Sales Kickoff Meetings

It is that time of year again where companies pull together their sales teams for the highly anticipated [i.e. dreaded] annual kickoff meeting.  During the typical training session the sales leader or the marketing guy will try to stuff 100lbs of information into 10lb brains all compressed into 50 minutes. That’s an awful lot to absorb and retain especially when the selling teams are already battling a splitting headache from the team bonding events of the night before.

Here are 5 ways you can turn this one time sales training and enablement event into a year long selling advantage.

Be kind to your selling teams

For product marketing mangers, sales trainers and sales operations managers the annual kickoff is the single most compressed way to get information to the field. Unfortunately this is like drinking from a fire hose or actually several fire hoses all at the same time for the field organization.  Be hyper-aware that learners have a capacity limit.  During individual sessions, focus on the most important aspects of the topics and don’t overwhelm the audience with details.  Use this time to tell exciting stories of how others have been successful and how customers have succeeded. Stories stick much stronger than features, functions, speeds and feeds.

Add context to your sales materials & training content

Sales teams, especially those geographically distributed, don’t have the luxury of informal conversations that reveal the bigger picture behind a sales tool.  Extend the value of selling content by including “insider” information with every resource to help the sales teams better understand when, where and why to use different pieces.  A simple paragraph or set of instructions can dramatically improve the utilization of the sales resources and product content.

Take your training handouts digital

Nobody wants to carry around a binder with printed copies of Powerpoint presentations and sales collateral.  So this year take training handouts digital and aggregate all of those great resources into one place.  Training materials should go beyond the presentation, they should include real world examples, links to supporting web content, access to training videos and webinars.  Don’t sell yourself short on the value of a well rounded training companion that has all of those details you just won’t have time to get across in  face-to-face sessions.

Make every session actionable

Don’t fall into the rut of preaching to the sales teams like they are an audience of cabbages.  Take the opportunity to collaborate with the group.  Ask questions during your session and make it interactive to turn it into a learning experience for you too.  At the end of each session give the audience at least one action to complete after the kickoff meeting is over.  This will help to keep the selling teams engaged and help remind them of the valuable points you made during the training session.  Examples of take away actions could be “3 things to go and tell each of your customers” or “Share a customer success story with every prospect.”

Turn one time training into a recurring program

Sales Performance International (SPI), world renown experts in Solution Selling, says that retention dramatically drops off when there isn’t a continual learning program in place.  According to SPI’s own research it takes just 5 weeks for the average learner to forgot 50% of the materials.  That number climbs to 84% in just 16 weeks. There is a tremendous opportunity to increase sales team productivity by changing the way training is done.  Implementing a continual learning program where information is distributed to the team in an ongoing fashion is just one of the steps you can take.

David Abramowski is a career product marketing leader and co-founder of Zoomstra, a Seattle based software company that helps organizations take their sales training content to the Cloud.


The 3 “what’s” of a great channel enablement program

“It’s time to get personal” exclaimed one of the sales reps.  ”We have to put ourselves in the reseller’s shoes and show them exactly why we stand out and why they should sell our solution.”  Those comments kicked off a tremendously productive meeting between the sales and marketing teams while I was onsite last week with a Zoomstra.com client.  The cross-functional team agreed that we needed to take a fresh approach to partner enablement and make it much more personalized than they had ever done before.

To start out, the team decided that the enablement program would be focused on the top 3 questions the channel partner’s account execs want to know…

  • WHAT’s in it for me?
  • WHAT do I need to know?
  • WHAT will help me win?

With this new direction in mind, the team was able to break free from the typical spray and pray training so often found in enablement programs.   And since the team had selected Zoomstra.com and our zWorkbook approach as the vehicle for partner enablement we had a great match.  The customer’s team set off to answer each of the three “What’s” so that we could then create  actionable zWorkbooks to be shared across the entire partner channel.

In the first workbook entitled “What’s in it for me” we used this opportunity to sell the partner account executive on why they should represent the software to their clients.  We defined the business proposition for the partner sales rep.  We explained how the solution allows the rep to capture a segment of business they weren’t addressing. We outlined how the new solution enables the partner rep to improve their existing relationships and how they will make more money from it all.  We crafted 4 lessons in a zWorkbook that provided the context and supporting materials including an existing video that outlined the business problem.

The second question we answered was “What do I need to know?”.  For the partner sales reps, knowing the landscape and knowing how to set the agenda are crucial for success.  The team looked at all of the existing sales tools and digital assets that the marketing team had at its disposal. We then outlined a workbook with the basic information needed by an account executive and then determined which items supported the partner in setting the agenda and talking with their prospects.

Finally we answered the question “What will help me win?”.   This is where the beauty of experience came through for the client.  The sales team in the room had a treasure trove of best practices, examples and processes that have made their own team successful over the past year selling the solution.  We captured all of that experience and pulled together details into a zWorkbook. We included lessons that could be executed on their own with step-by-step checklists and supporting documents and materials.  We created lessons like and “introductory email campaign” complete with list pull details and example email letters. Once we had the outline and the concept the rest of the details came together quickly.  We completed the first set of zWorkbooks in the past few days and we are already testing the program in the USA and Europe.   Feedback so far has been stellar and more and more people are requesting access as they learn about the program.

The real lesson that I think the team learned is that breaking free from “incremental improvement” and striking out into new territory can be game changing.  At first the team was centered on the classroom style “lecture and testing” that is so pervasive in training today.  But after seeing some examples of how to get personal the wheels came off that old LMS bus and a new thought process took over.  It became clear that building partner enablement as a one-on-one program sharing experiences, information and step-by-step guidance was the opportunity to make a big impact across the partner community.  In the end the partner enablement program has to sell to the partner account exec on the opportunity as much as it enabled he or she to sell the solution.