Ed Stevens is the founder and CEO of Preciate. He is deeply committed to helping others build strong, authentic relationships with the power of technology. Stevens has a B.A. from Stanford University.
When the pandemic hit, up to 70% of office workers switched to remote work, and video conferencing became part of many employees’ new normal.
This shift meant the way we did things in-person had to change, including sales kickoffs. Many executives still managed to host sales kickoff meetings at the onset of 2021, and more will want to host events in 2022. Sales kickoff events vary from organization to organization, but the one constant they share is bringing the team together and motivating them to make sales. These events help a business start a year or a quarter off on the right foot, banding together toward a common goal.
The pandemic and the associated partial shutdowns will eventually wind down in most areas of the country, but many businesses still plan to continue virtual meetings into late 2022 and perhaps indefinitely.
Crafting an effective and encouraging virtual sales kickoff is getting easier as people become accustomed to virtual meetings. There are definitely do’s-and-dont’s to consider when putting together a virtual sales kickoff event for your team. Organizations can expect maximum engagement and returns that spell success by thoughtfully executing an event.
A sales kickoff event should be something employees look forward to, not dread. It’s a chance for some team building, yes, but also a time to let your hair down a bit and have some workplace fun, even virtually.
Planning some fun ice-breaker activities such as “Two Truths and Lie” to get to know team members a little bit better before you jump into the meat of the meeting is a great place to start. You can also plan trivia games or themes to liven up your sales kickoff. Perhaps ask your team members to come wearing their favorite sports team gear or send out shirts with the company logo to everyone participating.
Yes, you are coming together to work, but there is no reason people cannot play hard virtually as well. When employees can settle into a more relaxed setting, the ideas start to flow, and there’s more room for productive dialogue.
When offices went remote, part of the in-office camaraderie was disrupted. However, there are ways you can leverage advances in virtual communication technology to gain some of that connection back.
Allowing for breakout groups or “hang out rooms” during your meeting lets the kickoff feel more like a real-life, in-office atmosphere. Leadership can get the right people together to hyper-focus on goals. Team members can make closer connections with those in their breakout groups and motivate one another. People may be more apt to share ideas in smaller groups than they may be in an all-hands-on-deck situation.
One massive positive aspect of virtual events is that it allows more people to participate, even overseas. Hosting the kickoff event virtually will enable employees to save money on travel and accommodations. Organizations can likely expect attendance to be better with their virtual event, especially within larger companies with more employees spread far and wide.
Just as hosting your sales kickoff virtually is at a cost-savings to your employees, an organization cannot overlook the cost-savings for them as well. Bringing people together virtually means no costly venue rentals or catering bills. It’s a win/win situation for all involved.
One of the best parts of any sales kickoff, whether in-person or virtually, is the opportunity to recognize employees and celebrate wins.
Recognition is vital to employee retention and, ultimately, sales success. Recognition of employees has become more critical in this age of The Great Resignation, where more and more people are choosing to leave jobs for better opportunities or better treatment. When organizations go out of their way to properly recognize the good work employees do and their successes, they are far more likely to retain those employees.
Recognition of employees also increases the participation of all employees in your virtual sales kickoff. One of the complaints from organizations regarding virtual meetings or events has been the struggle to get all employees engaged and participating. Organizations can address this by focusing on recognition and celebrating wins.
Probably the most important key element of a great virtual sales kickoff meeting is setting clear expectations for what you hope to gain out of the event and creating a solid schedule for the order of things. Participants want to know what leadership expects of them and, in turn, what they can expect out of leadership.
Some helpful agenda tips include scheduling brainstorming sessions early in the event so that you can discuss the results of the brainstorming, later on, perhaps during the breakout sessions. Also, if there are any “losses” to share, rather than all “wins,” get those out of the way early. Build up to positivity.
Every kickoff should be preceded by a sales kickoff agenda, laying out the order of events and who is expected to attend each event scheduled. The sales kickoff plan should include time for breakout sessions and smaller group discussions and breaks. Breaks are essential for more extended or multiple-day events. If your sales kickoff event were in-person, breaks would be an expectation. Expected breaks should remain the case as you take your event virtual.
Virtual meeting spaces and the tools that come with different platforms and software play a big role in helping businesses facilitate successful virtual sales kickoffs. One cannot simply shift a live event into a virtual space. The event needs to be thought out and planned for what the virtual space can provide.
When the virtual kickoff event is over and people return to their remote work lives, organizations should schedule a time to connect with the key players and other employees. Listen to feedback and take recommendations for the next virtual event. Are the goals for the kickoff event being reached, and does it seem like those who attended walked away feeling energized and ready to sell?
The past few years have been difficult for companies, especially those who pivot to remote work and virtual gatherings on a dime. Training employees how to best utilize virtual conferencing software and keeping them motivated and engaged has been an added challenge to successfully running a business. “Zoom Fatigue” is real and is hitting people as we enter our third year of the COVID pandemic and upheaval.
However, there is a silver lining: the ever-evolving technology surrounding video conferencing and virtual meeting software. With today’s software and services that work in tandem with platforms such as Zoom, the options are becoming endless. There is availability for breakout sessions, interactivity and further reach for better engagement.
It’s a new day, and virtual events are here to stay. By being intentional about planning their sales kickoff event, organizations can instill confidence in their team, leading to better sales results. | AC&F |