March 5th, 2020

Kick Off Productive Sales Bootcamps, Events and QBRs with Virtual Strategies

 

This is the story of a company like mine, maybe yours.  Perhaps you’re an enablement director, marketing or sales exec, sales ops leader, training director, field event owner or an executive admin. It’s March 5, so it’s that time of year or quarter when you’re on the verge of the multi-week showcase known as Sales Bootcamp, Sales Kick-Off (SKO), Quarterly Business Review (QBR) or Company/Global Kick-Off  (GKO). This means you’re in the throes of your evening job as the “chief sales-kick-off officer” – responsible for pulling together in a single location, corporate and field teams distributed near and far.

Then you have the mic drop moment. After all that really hard work – bad news goes viral! A no-travel policy is enforced or perhaps executive management makes the call. Employees are proactively asked to cancel all work-related travel as a precautionary measure. 

In this moment, it’s logical to pivot towards one of a few options:

Option 1: Panic 

Option 2: Cancel everything, reschedule, or worse just wait, hoping for a miracle

Option 3: Put everything, all content, all presentations in shared drives, your CMS and run long, boring web conferencing sessions, hoping against hope that something will stick

The good news is that there is a proven approach to getting a high ROI on the work that has already been done. 

  • Presenting Option 4: World-class companies implement a blended approach to sales events designed to withstand emergencies including outbreaks, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Over the last 7 years, MindTickle has been working with these organizations to implement a readiness approach across their sales events.

Over the course of this post, I will review some of these best practices in the form of Do’s and Don’ts to help you go from a standstill to a winning virtual event in 2 weeks or less. (Scroll to the end for a link to connect with MindTickle experts that are available for a 1:1 consultation on running great virtual sales events and kick-offs.)

Do’s and Don’ts for Moving from In-Person to Virtual in 2 Weeks or Less

Engaging Executives and Fellow Stakeholders – Build Your SWAT Team!

DON’T

  • Don’t assume you are in this alone and try to pull off the shift to an online or virtual event on your own. Continue to engage and communicate with people that worked to support the event.
  • Why: These folks have a vested interest in being consulted and playing a part in a successful follow-through. While it’s easy to focus on assuring executives and leaders that ‘something’ will happen, consulting with the end recipients, peers in product marketing, pre-sales, services, and other organizing teams will create a meaningful, engaging, and collaborative experience. 

DO

  • Do reach out to your existing telephony, conferencing, and readiness solutions partners to see what experience and insight they might offer to work with you on transforming your live event into a virtual experience. Talk to other industry peers on industry forums or in your network to incorporate their learnings.
  • Work with executives and leaders to inspire the troops.  From inspirational messages to short videos delivering and reinforcing key messages on themes, objectives, and the importance of virtual participation, the organization will feel supported and assured that business will not only continue but thrive amidst the uncertain business climate. Nothing delivers confidence like the message that business will continue as usual particularly with an event designed to make sellers and their supporting teams competitive. 
  • Virtual competitions, leaderboards and other fun activities like quizzes or polls, as well as micro-content formats on mobile to drip-serve long-form learning to pre-reading on mobile with gamification and rewards tied to completion, will also create an atmosphere of engagement with learning and reinforcement.

 

Transitioning Quickly from In-Person to Online 

DON’T

  • Don’t attempt to convert your live event to a live web-conferencing event on the same exact days and times as your original conference. 
  • Why: Locations, connectivity, time-zones, and home office settings are very different and not conducive to day-long sessions of one-sided content consumption in a vacuum.

DO

  • Do leverage live presentation tools in conjunction with a platform aligned with pre-conference planning and attendee preferences.
  • Do solicit feedback from sellers and attendees using surveys and polls on how they would like to participate in a virtual setting, consume content (real-time, online, offline, mobile, video/pdf, gamified, etc.) and provide feedback.
  • Use visual journey builders, social engagement like leaderboards, and gamification to build a sense of virtual community.

 

Keeping your Presenters and Experts Engaged Before, During and After the Event

DON’T

  • Make your presenters record every session in long videos using a web conferencing solution or video in PowerPoint and post them to a shared folder or file sharing service.
  • Why: Presenters are human too and the best presenters draw energy from participation and reinforcement from attendees. Allowing Presenters to experiment with new formats like polls and voice-over video or role-plays as well as micro-learning or spaced reinforcement modalities and feedback mechanisms like polls will engage them and create a feedback loop.

DO

  • Maximize the power of personalization to service every attendee based on their unique role. Survey reps online to collect ideas on topics that matter in the field.
  • Conduct online role-play competitions to find success stories.
  • Use a pop quiz to identify knowledge gaps.
  • Present your executive team with reasons to shift to a virtual model and get enthusiastic buy-in because of the better outcome it will offer versus simply shifting the in-person event to a series of web-conferences.
  • Take stock of and categorize your existing content and leverage internal teams or vendors like MindTickle that have dedicated content services to help you quickly re-factor your content for consumption with modern modalities such as gamification, mobile micro-learning, virtual coaching forms, email-based reinforcement and role-plays.  

 

Orchestrate the Event as Series of Mini-Exercises, Each Designed to Maximize Interaction, Engagement, and Long-term Retention 

DO

  • Review my colleague Dhruv Markandey’s excellent post here on a practical action plan for implementing a quick virtual event in a few days. Our experience with our customers informs us that taking a micro-experience approach to sessions, content, exercises and a focus on personalization will drive the best possible outcomes. These include: 
    • Integrated pre-learning and pre-certification with instructor-led skill development workshops delivered via live streaming platforms. 
    • Short surveys after every micro-session to measure ROI and engagement.
    • Use of quizzes and virtual leaderboards to measure knowledge retention, engagement, and readiness.
    • Continuous drip delivery of bite-sized information updates like product and competitive snapshots from SMEs.
    • Online role plays for reps to practice their message during breaks or in between sequenced sessions on topics such as objection handling or elevator pitch.
    • Spaced reinforcement after the event to ensure reps have adopted product messages. 

 

While there is no size fits all to define the perfect virtual sales or corporate event, platforms such as MindTickle have evolved to help our customers address one overriding objective. Maximizing the capability of their people by supporting how they are onboarded, aligned and reinforced to deliver in the field. Bootcamps, SKOs, QBRs, and GKOs are perhaps the most important anchor events designed to achieve this objective in a single forum to deliver the executive vision, product launch training, messaging certification, competitive training and accreditation, coaching 1:1’s and feedback loop. 

 

I hope this blog post sparks some ideas for your own event and look forward to opening up a conversation as we all come to grips with doing business no matter where people are.

For more information, check out this resource page for successfully running virtual and online sales events.

And for more of Gop’s thought on how customer-focused companies are cutting costs while driving valuable engagements, listen to his brand new podcast.