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You crushed Sales Kickoff, but how do you nail adoption?

March 21, 2022 - 7 min read


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Get manager buy-in

Create opportunities for application

Track your success

It’s early March, and that means many sales organizations have just wrapped up Sales Kickoff. If you’re part of an enablement team that devoted the last several months to planning this year’s big event, congratulations! You deserve a beverage. And probably a week off, too.

With Kickoff behind you, you’re #1 emotion is probably relief, especially if COVID ruined your plans to return to an in-person setting. Amid that relief, however, lurks the question that dogs many enablement teams the morning after Kickoff: Was the event a success?

You know well that Kickoff is a high-stakes event.

To pull it off, enablement needs time, effort, and money — investments that must demonstrate a high return. The week itself may have gone off without a hitch: Sellers celebrated last year’s wins and dissected a few of its losses. They were introduced to this year's messaging goals. They probably learned the ins and outs of a few new tools and products.

A Kickoff that accomplishes all of that is something to celebrate. But here’s the thing about Kickoff: the event itself doesn’t define its success.

That’s up to the rest of the year.

A successful Sales Kickoff is one that inspires adoption. If sellers don’t incorporate the new messaging rolled out at Kickoff, if they never try out the new methodologies, if they never log into the new products presented, Kickoff will have failed.

Adoption into sales processes and practices — integration into daily work— that's the measure of Sales Kickoff success.

Here’s the big question: How can the sales enablement team make sure Sales Kickoff is a launching pad for success? How can they ensure it isn't a one-and-done event full of forgettable sessions?

Thankfully, that question has an answer. In this article, we’ll cover three tips that will help you make sure Kickoff gives way to adopted sales practices and measurable wins.


Get manager buy-in

Because adoption is the clearest indicator of a Kickoff’s success, enablement needs to build a plan that makes it happen. The first item on that plan should be manager buy-in.

Enablement may be tempted to treat managers and individual contributors the same. The inclination is understandable. Both groups need the grounding, motivation, and training that SKO offers.

But if enablement doesn’t take time to solicit buy-in from managers, managers won’t help implement what was rolled out during Kickoff. In fact, managers who leave SKO overwhelmed and unsure of their goals will create similar confusion among their teams.

Enablement must make sure sales managers have ongoing support to coach their teams on the new tools and be prepared for questions, concerns, and potentially even confusion in one-on-ones with their reps.

When it comes to adoption, manager buy-in makes the difference. Without it, the lessons of Kickoff fade away. With it, Kickoff stays relevant for the rest of the year.

This reality raises an important question: How are your sales managers getting the individualized support they need to support their teams?


Create opportunities for application

The importance of managers’ role in adoption is hard to understate, but their buy-in needs to be met by sellers’ participation.

In order for the lessons learned in Kickoff to take hold, sellers need to build muscle memory. This means enablement needs to push practice, perhaps building off of Kickoff’s momentum. Enablement can call attention to early adopters, for instance, and spotlight tips from the field. Sellers may respond to this tactic especially well if virtual events skimped on shop talk.

In a safe, non-judgemental space, practice opportunities will allow sales professionals to internalize the lessons, producing changed behavior and deeper connections to the organization.

As enablement devises a strategy to push practice, it needs to prioritize agility. Strategies must adjust to the realities of sellers' day-to-day and to each person's individual needs. One-size-fits-all approaches won't work when it comes to making Kickoff content stick.

Who understands the need sellers have for this type of support?

Track your success

As managers push adoption and sellers put new learnings into practice, enablement needs to demonstrate proof of its success.

Enablement teams often attempt to quantify Kickoff’s returns by sending out a survey gauging participants’ satisfaction with the initial event. The survey may help enablement plan for next year, but it provides only a leading indicator of the event’s success. It can’t provide the qualitative data that proves Kickoff’s long-lasting impact and behavior change.

Enablement can create a plan to track metrics that point to year-long success. These metrics include:

  • Product uptake (pipeline growth + bookings)
  • New tool usage
  • Pipeline management and forecasting accuracy
  • Quota attainment and participation rates
  • Revenue and margin growth

Enablement can even track intangibles — from focus and strategic planning to coaching and cross-functional alignment — to show how new behaviors and mindsets transformed the sales organization.

At BetterUp, we track these critical sales mindsets, behaviors, and outcomes that power success with our Partner Analytics Dashboard. These analytics offer sales enablement the metrics and insights you need to understand the inner workings of your revenue organization. 

Final thoughts

Obtain manager buy-in, push engagement, and track success: By following these steps, engagement will throttle the momentum built up during Kickoff, catapult Q1’s numbers, and anchor sellers’ success across the year.

These tips are just the beginning of enablement’s journey to a lasting Kickoff.

At BetterUp, we help translate your learning into real application and behavior change. With our team of expert sales coaches, we work with your managers on how to best coach and reinforce the SKO learning and with your ICs on how to apply the content to their daily workflow.

If your team wants to see the rewards of Kickoff all year long, schedule a call with BetterUp to learn how we can help you reap the rewards of your hard work.


Published March 21, 2022

Jamie Kleinerman

Sales Enablement Strategist

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