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Best Ever SKO Training According to 12 Sales VP’s


Your Sales Kick Off (SKO) is right around the corner.  Your challenge is to make this year’s event the best ever – inspirational, 100% relevant, immediately actionable and an overall growth experience for the entire sales organization. 

To help you, I gathered 12 smart and successful Sales VP’s from various company sizes and industries around a (virtual) table to zero in on what needs to change to make training more effective than ever before.

Training – What Needs to Change…

Times have changed when it comes to sales training. What are the current best practices to make your training most effective? The Sales VP’s weigh in on the new essentials:

  • Shift from a once and done training mindset to a development over time mindset.  The SKO is simply the kickoff for a more comprehensive growth program that is delivered over many months.
  • Topic stack must be carefully considered and 100% relevant now. Consider the trends in your industry and what your prospects, and customers need from your salespeople.
  • Take into account the learning styles of the group.  Experiential learning tends to work for most.  Think less PowerPoint and more worksheets, and meaningful pre-work. 
  • Winning logistics: more interaction, shorter chunks of time per topic, smaller groups (8 is great).
  • A skilled facilitator who draws in everyone, asks meaningful questions, guides participants to ‘Ah ha’ moments, and allow space for absorbing content.
  • Use technology tools like chat for crowd sourcing around a challenge question, white boards for brainstorming, and breakout rooms with targeted assignments.
  • Bring unexpected elements into the learning path such as a LinkedIn Learning course.
  • Build in confirmation of learning techniques such as spot quizzes, contests, pre and post assessments and participant capstone presentations.
  • Apply change management concepts such as executive touch points throughout the program and other methods of reinforcement. Be intentional: messaging to set up the training, absorption during the training, validation points after the training.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Contrast the current best practices for brilliant and effective training with these epic pitfalls to avoid at all costs.

  • Lengthy lectures.
  • Dated content. i.e., examples that don’t resonate like a competitor who no longer exists
  • Not clearly stating the ‘Why’ including at the individual level for the training. (and again during the recap)
  • Failing to include key leaders and managers in the training when they must role model and reinforce the new skills.
  • Weak facilitator who folds when the group gets side-tracked.
  • Prep work that is too hard, so most don’t do it. i.e., reading an entire book vs. just one concept or chapter
  • Tech crash with no plan B.

Ring the Bell!!!

Plan on ‘Ringing the Bell’ much more often through truly effective sales growth and development programs, starting with your SKO!

Lisa Magnuson is a Women Sales Pros Sales Expert member and the author of two highly acclaimed books: The TOP Seller Advantage: Powerful Strategies to Build Long-Term Executive Relationships and most recently, The TOP Sales Leader Playbook: How to Win 5X Deals Repeatedly.  

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