Your annual sales conference is an opportunity to reinforce your sales strategy, energize your sales force, and set your organization up for success. As pandemic restrictions continue to change, you may lean towards a virtual conference to ensure everyone can attend safely.
Based on the past year of delivering virtual keynotes and training sessions, Kevin Higgins CEO of DoubleDigit Sales has a few ideas on how equip your team with skills and confidence to drive sales goals in the coming months.
The right session for the right audience
One of the biggest benefits of a virtual learning setting is the flexibility to invite as many (or as few) participants based on how relevant the topic is to their roles.
“You have the ability to make sure the right people are in the right rooms,” Kevin explains. “It ensures that the skills and content are specific and engaging to each participant.”
Breakout activities enable discussions in much smaller groups. Sales managers and salespeople, for example, can be grouped separately for exercises that are relevant to the challenges in their roles. Whether it’s through Zoom, Teams or another platform, technology makes it easy to facilitate breakout groups. It’s an invaluable feature when you’re planning sessions for dozens of team members.
Flexibility with timing
A common mistake that organizers make is falling back on the same agenda from previous in-person events. In Kevin’s experience, “people are used to doing a 2-day conference and in virtual, they continue that structure.”
Yet, virtual offers a lot more flexibility. Consider creating an agenda that helps participants balance their workload. “One of our clients held their kickoff on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings over one week,” Kevin says. Schedule in a way that motivates participants to feel good about attending, rather than feeling stressed about the interruption in their workday. You will know what works best for your people.
Schedule the agenda in a way that motivates participants to feel good about attending, rather than feeling stressed about the interruption in their workday.
Leverage technology that supports interactivity
In virtual settings, speakers tend to reduce interactivity as participant sizes increase. Many only rely on chat functions. “There’s a fear of opening up sessions to be more interactive,” Kevin says. “In reality, engaging people in the session – including calling on participants to speak – will ensure they’re staying connected.”
Regardless of group size, try to incorporate two-way interactivity. Kevin recently delivered a keynote for a client whose platform lacked a polling function. “I leveraged the chat function instead. I had asked participants questions that required them to rate themselves from one to ten,” Kevin explains. “Short answers allow the speaker to glance quickly and build off of the responses.” Alternately, you can ask participants to raise their virtual hand or enable the on-screen drawing function to indicate their responses.
In virtual learning sessions, you want to engage your audience as much as possible. Here is a scale showing the types of activities you can use with varying levels of interactivity.
Adding interactive pieces into your virtual sessions really makes an impact on participants. At a recent virtual learning event facilitated by Kevin, a leader from a wealth management organization shared that she paid full attention since Kevin had called on participants to ‘jump off mute’ and share their insights throughout the session (in fact, this high level of engagement encouraged the leader to have DDS run an extensive training program for their team). “Whether it’s a learning session, a keynote, or executive presentation, look for opportunities to build in interactivity, even more so than you would in person,” Kevin emphasizes.
As you think about bringing your sales team together during this time of transition, know that you can leverage virtual components to make your conference a success.