This time of year is usually filled with new beginnings that include getting the entire sales team together for a day or multiple days to go over new services, product launches, and some general sales training. Nice dinners and a few drinks have been replaced with concern, the desire to stay home, and a workforce that is remaining largely remote for the foreseeable future.
As a result, we’ve seen many businesses turn to virtual options. Before we get into our tips and tricks, I want to first touch on what a virtual sales kickoff is. A virtual sales kickoff needs a series of things to actually make it successful. The sales leadership team needs to find a way to all be together somewhere, or at least to be virtually streamed in from their separate locations. They must be able to communicate with one another while pushing out content to the audience of attendees. Perhaps even using a studio space similar to Bluewater’s Studio that allows for two-way communication with attendees. This leadership team can then speak, interact, and even craft small groups with the right platform in place.
We recommend understanding what you want to accomplish as you’re planning your kickoff. Knowing whether or not you will need two-way communication in your main session is vital, understanding how many people you want in your breakout rooms, or even knowing if you will want to have an area where your vendors or partners can present separately are keys to your success.
Now that we’ve provided an overview, let’s get into a few deeper recommendations.
- Provide some sense of gamification to your sales kickoff and make it competitive! Your sales team is likely hyper competitive as it is, and as a sales leader you like to see them compete in a fun and laid back environment. A virtual escape room or a gamification piece that tests the attendees on material gone over in a general session can provide some fun and training simultaneously. We’ve even seen a murder mystery event run over a virtual sales kickoff. Make it fun with trophies, or goodie bags or gift cards etc… The aim should be to tie in something physical with the virtual event itself. This is also a reward for the attendees that can be motivational in light of not having a nice dinner, or other awards per a usual in-person event.
- Take advantage of breakout rooms and their ability to provide small group thinking with huge impact. Smaller and more manageable groups can offer a space for discussion, problem solving, or even a roundtable opportunity with sales leaders where questions that aren’t appropriate for the whole group can be asked. It’s also a nice way for teams, or regional sales reps to congregate together and share ideas or prospecting tactics.
- Don’t forget to schedule in breaks, just like you would an in-person sales kickoff. This can be easily forgotten during virtual sales kickoffs, and all virtual meetings in general. Often we think that because attendees are remote or at home, that they are able to be more relaxed and take their own breaks. However, this has shown to not be the case. People are working harder than ever and are often concerned that they should not be taking breaks for fear of a noticed performance decrease. This can be true during virtual sales kickoffs as well. Attendees are concerned that stepping away might cause them to miss a key piece of information, or worse yet make them look disengaged to their peers and superiors. Scheduling in 3-4 fifteen minute breaks throughout the day can be greatly energizing. It can even give your sales team opportunities to follow-up with accounts or targets. We’ve also seen small discussion breakouts unrelated to the kickoff allow your team to connect on a personal level, especially during the current pandemic. That’s vital to building a collaborative culture.
- Make sure you have the right platform. The right virtual event platform can make all the difference. Do you need multiple breakout rooms? Do you have multiple divisions within your team, or regional content to show separate groupings of your sales team? If so, you will likely need multiple breakout rooms, two-way communication, and maybe even a space to showcase multiple data sets and materials for the appropriate audiences. The size of your sales team and attendee list also maters. If you have a large team, for instance of 50 or more attendees, or even hundreds of reps across the country, you might need something like Paralell. Paralell Live is a cutting edge virtual platform built by the event pros at Bluewater aimed at bringing the virtual experience to life for every attendee and making it feel like your at an in-person event.
- Make sure your virtual sales kickoff speakers rehearse and prepare for the differences in a virtual vs live kickoff. They will need to rework the way in which they speak to the audience. We recommend breaking the outbound speaking into small 10-15 minute segments or chunks of related data. This way an hour long keynote for instance is able to provide 3-4 key takeaways that attendees will remember throughout the event. Anything longer than this we find is often not impactful or forgotten. We also recommend using the breakouts mentioned above if any one session goes much beyond an hour. This keeps thinking fresh and attendees engaged. Mixing in video, or pre-recorded dialogue can also be helpful in breaking up and monotony that often creeps in during this type of event. The last thing anyone wants is one-way communication for the better part of the entire day. Shorter segments tend to perform better in the virtual world and speakers need to take that into account and cover ground quickly and thoroughly.
For more information regarding virtual sales kickoffs or the Parallel Live virtual platform contact us and we’ll be happy to have a conversation around your needs, best practices, or things to avoid during your next event!