2016 was big year for INXPO as we grew our team by 30% and expanded our operations to the UK and India. In past years, we have been able to host our company meetings face-to-face with only a few people not being able to attend and overall very successful. However, due to our expanding workforce we knew we needed a flexible solution that would make it easier and more efficient for all employees to attend our annual sales kickoff.
To start off our 2017, we decided it was time to drink our own champagne and launched our first virtual sales kick off. Our goals included celebrating 2016, recognizing employee achievements, educating on the future direction, train for success, and motivate for a great year.
Here’s what we learned in making the switch to virtual:
Higher participation comes with more flexible options. We have a good handful of remote employees, and this year we even had two pregnant team members that couldn’t be in Chicago even if we had offered to fly them here. By hosting a virtual sales kick off, each member of our team could fully participate no matter their location.
Split agendas lead to higher retention and productivity. Traditionally, our physical sales kick offs involved renting out a space and having one long day of sitting and forced attention. This year, without being confined to a physical space we could split the format into two days of two and half hour chunks of time. This allowed people to not fall behind by missing an entire day of work, and gave them time to respond to customers. Additionally, by giving our employees this time back in their day they were more focused during the sessions we asked them to attend, and therefore the content went further making a bigger impact.
Interactive Q&A creates dialogue between the presenter and audience. While presenting, the audience asked questions through our Q&A on their computer or, if they were attending physically, through Second Screen on their phone. By having submitted Q&A versus a pass-the-mic style, I could answer questions that I felt were the most relevant to the entire room and avoid repetition. Questions that were more personal or not as pertinent to the entire audience I was able to save and answer with that person outside of the presentation.
Content is king, when engaging. Most of our sessions were around 20 to 30 minutes with a few 60 minute exceptions to keep the content quick and concise. We learned that timing is only the half of keeping people’s attention. The sessions that did the best were the ones that utilized the most engagement tools including, polls, open ended questions and knowledge check points to test what people have just learned.
Make sessions available on-demand to keep in your back pocket. We made sure to record each session and make it available on-demand for employees after the initial week and this proved to be hugely beneficial. Having our sales kickoff virtual greatly boosted our live attendance, but life happens and things come up with clients that causes people to miss some of the live content. On-demand sessions made it easy for employees to jump back in on the content that they missed or to refer to a session that peaked their interest. New hires that came along after the new year are also able to watch our sales kickoff, which eases our on-boarding process.
As a company of only 120 people, I think we surprised ourselves at how hugely effective a virtual sales kick off could be for a company of our size, and this value will only multiply as we grow. I’m proud that I can now officially say we have given our solution the full taste test and the INXPO “champagne” is what we will be drinking each new year from now on.
To learn more about our Sales Enablement solution and how you can apply our lessons learned to your company’s next sales kick off, visit our website here or talk to us directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.