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The Trick to Getting More Out of Sales Kick-Off in RevOps

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Sales kick-offs (SKOs) are a fantastic opportunity to align the go-to-market teams and promote your company's latest product launch. Classroom-style sessions, role-playing exercises, and team-building events abound. The CRO or VP of Sales sees SKO as a means to build morale, solidify relationships, and celebrate sales successes. The sales team sees it as a great excuse to party.

While many of us in revenue operations are responsible for pulling together the slides used by many executives at big events, we're rarely allowed presentation time. And if we are given time, it's the first slot available on the last day of the kick-off. (Translation? RevOps gets to present when people are the most hungover.)

While we don't have any fabulous recommendations to put RevOps on center stage, we are here to challenge the typical attitude about SKO – and offer ways to get more out of the event.

Why training at SKO is a waste of RevOps' time

Revenue operations isn't the only team that sits on the sidelines during SKO. Even executives take a backseat unless they're celebrating the sales team's awesomeness. 

Salespeople arguably have the most challenging job in any company, next to collections. They hear the word "no" in every variation possible all day long, especially since 2022. This is why sales leaders know and use SKOs as an opportunity to boost morale and place less emphasis on training.

And those sales leaders are right to do so. Although enablement, marketing, and the product team may see SKO as a fantastic opportunity to cram knowledge into the heads of every salesperson, the odds of them retaining that information are slim to none.

According to Ardent, 84%- 90% of sales training is forgotten within three months, with the most significant loss occurring in the first 24 hours.

We're not saying sales training shouldn't be prioritized. A staggering 81% of companies report improved performance with appropriate skills training. Training is an excellent idea. 

The problem with training at events like SKO is that much of the content isn't relevant to what that salesperson is trying to accomplish during or shortly after SKO. And the less relevant the content is to them, and the fewer opportunities they have to repeat what they've learned, the more likely they will forget it.

If we can accept that SKO isn't the opportunity we've been waiting for to hammer home some CRM knowledge with the sales team, it's much easier to see SKO as an opportunity instead of something we are forced to attend.

What if I am asked to train sales at SKO?

Congratulations! You've probably just completed a major project, such as a CPQ implementation or approval routing update.

If you are training the sales team on systems, don't plan on the information sticking for more than a few hours. Create videos and job aides to supplement your in-person training. Use an embedded app to serve up training when it's contextually relevant. (Check out this article for more on creating enablement content your sales team will actually use.)

If you're given free rein on what to train the sales team on, talk to the sales team about what they want to know more about. Start with the biggest "What's In It For Me" (WIIFM) for the sales team and work backward from there.

Focus on skills that will benefit them during negotiations, such as a better understanding of pricing strategy. For example, what kind of discounts is the CFO more likely to greenlight and why? 

Give them life "hacks" to help them get through the day faster. Show them how to take their calls with customers and use AI to summarize product requirements for the customer success team. Show them how to identify which cold calls were the most successful and how to repeat them.

Think beyond reports and systems and think through how your sales team can use technology to spend less time on what they call "administrative tasks." 

There's a reason sales leaders often ignore RevOps when they ask for training time: Systems are seen as a low priority. However, if you can tie your training to a much larger priority, like getting time back to sell and stronger negotiation tactics, you're far more likely to get approved as an SKO trainer.

So, WIIFM if I'm not training sales?

Talk to any executive, and they will tell you that networking is essential for career growth. As an introvert, I fought the "strong suggestions" to socialize and take advantage of networking events.

With more years in the workforce under my belt, I will be the first to say that a strong network and reputation are just as critical as everyone says.

Salespeople are social creatures, and the more they get to know your wonderful personality, the less likely they are to try to steamroll you when they're in the contracting process. They also tend to be the most vocal and loyal advocates a RevOps person can have – and as they climb the ranks, they will have more pull in organizations looking for an awesome RevOps professional.

SKO is also a superb opportunity to learn exactly what your executive team thinks is the top priority for the business and the go-to-market strategy they want to use to hit their goal. This is critical for building successful business cases and arguing for more resources. This knowledge will also help you build a roadmap that your executive team can get excited about.

Finally, SKO is a great way to learn what motivates your sellers and management team. Observe who they publicly celebrate. Listen to the words they use. If you're feeling left out and crave public praise, this is your opportunity to figure out how to make it on their list of superstars.

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