How to Make Training More Effective at Your 2017 SKO

sales kick-off

The annual sales kick off, or SKO, meeting is an important event for every sales organization. It’s an important time to get your sales reps together to learn, collaborate, influence, and motivate. Traditionally, the SKO is where many goals are expected to be met in only a few days. And there is always the risk of your meeting becoming just one big party at the company’s expense. That’s not such a bad thing, since a good party will often meet the criteria for your goal of successfully motivating the team. Check. But you need to know that they learned something that will improve sales. Training is how you make that happen.

But when it comes to educating your sales reps, everything you attempt to teach during your SKO has a very low probability of being remembered. Most educational studies report only 10% of information being retained a month after class. The Sales Executive Council has reported up to 13% is remembered. That’s still not good. Your reps may have enjoyed the classes, but their chances of remembering and applying what they learned are slim.

Don’t Throw out the SKO

Is this ROI bad enough to eliminate the SKO meeting completely? No. Your SKO is important. The research may show poor knowledge retention from traditional efforts, but there is hope in the form of technology solutions. The SKO will always be important, for the same reasons that face-to-face training is still important despite the massive growth of online training. Conversations, building relationships, asking questions, and an opportunity to practice. This ROI cannot be achieved as effectively via technology. It can be started and nurtured online, but the strength of human interaction in real life is undeniable.

Most of what is successful about off-line training sessions, and team meetings, occurs naturally which is why we continue to produce them. Sometimes the numbers tell us a story of failure, but the attendees themselves tell stories of success. Have you ever attended a corporate event where you didn’t get much out of the class, but you always remember the class for other reasons? You met a colleague(s) who helped influence a project, or she became your next boss, or gave you career advice that changed your life? Or maybe last year’s SKO was where you heard about that one thing you changed in your sales technique that worked and got your biggest sale closed. It’s these stories that make a difference, but are rarely quantified in the data we collect about face-to-face meetings. In an effort to cut travel costs we inadvertently cut off the human factor that is often unquantifiable.

Improve the ROI of Your SKO with LMS

But this is the 21st century. We’ve learned a lot from neuroscience over the past decade that can now be supported with technology solutions that were not available 10 years ago. We have powerful mobile devices connected via high speed broadband connections. Most airports/airlines now offer internet connectivity. Specialized mobile apps and services like Uber, Airbnb, and others make the tasks of daily work easier than ever before. These same technologies make communication, collaboration, and training more accessible as well.

Training professionals have found greater success in supporting the long term process of learning rather than focusing on a single training event. The SKO is still an important part of the learning process, but an extended blended approach significantly improves retention and application of skills learned.

Event professionals are focused on producing the event. It’s your job as the training manager to deliver the content within the context of the event and the context of the life of a sales rep. The formula for supporting the long term process of learning is simple:

  1. pre-event training
  2. event training
  3. post-event performance support

Spaced repetition is one of the most powerful learning tactics available to you as a trainer. The technology now exists for you to design experiences that support repetitive consumption of information as well as repetitive practice. However, your learning management system must support this approach. You need a system that is easy to use, and capable of delivering content across multiple devices, in smaller modularized chunks. You will also need a solid library of content in addition to the ability to quickly and easily create custom training content. And integrating these learning experiences within a sales environment like, or others, enhances engagement.

Make Your Sales Training Click with Technology That Works

With a learning management system like Litmos you have everything you need to support your sales reps year round. In preparation for your next SKO, introduce your sales team to the Litmos Sales Academy. This collection of courses can get your team up to speed as self-paced training. But you can also enhance the learning by assigning the courses prior to your SKO as pre-event training. Your SKO event training can then focus on activities that provide an opportunity to practice what was learned, collaborate with peers, and learn more from the experts. As the training professional you should be engaging with the sales reps during the event training and learning more about their needs. This will give you the data needed to define your post-event performance support and training. You can continue to deliver micro-learning courses based on their feedback, new product releases, and business items that may need attention.

The sales kick off meeting is more than just a time to deliver another classroom training event. Take advantage of the SKO as an opportunity to anchor the long term learning process. Support it with pre-event training content, and enhance it with post-event performance support training. This approach allows you to apply spaced repetition as a successful learning strategy instead of overwhelming your sales rep with a one time dump of overwhelming content.

You can’t learn for your reps and you can’t perform for them. But you can do better at setting them up for success using a learning management system they love and delivering training content in the right format, at the right time, to the right device. You can be more than just a training department with Litmos. You can be a integral part of the business. A valued solution, not just an interruption.