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Sales Kick Off Time is Jeopardy Time!

It’s that time of year again! Yes, Super Bowl weekend is only days away, and my New England Patriots are contending once again! We New England folk have left “Deflate-gate” behind, and looking forward to a competitive game and another Patriots win.  But it’s also the time of year for a different kind of kick off – the annual sales kick off. And this year, I came up with an innovative spin, worth of a Bill Belichick eligible receiver tactic.

My company just wrapped up sales kick off, and after celebrating a very successful 2014, we set our sights on this fiscal year. My job includes not only creating the sales enablement kit for the company, but also verifying that the sales teams actually KNOW the content. (For a related topic on designing highly effective sales enablement material, see my post “Beware the Thing of Beauty.”) Rather than presenting to the sales team the key content, which would have taken hours anyway), I used a game of “Jeopardy” to quiz them on their knowledge of the material.

The game was great fun, even after a late night of partying. And it was highly effective at achieving its goal – pointing out where additional study was needed.

8 Steps to Run a Sales Kick Off Jeopardy Game

Here are the eight essential steps to our Sales Kick Off Jeopardy Game. Feel free to innovate, modify and explore for your own purposes.

1. Set the Teams to Generate Competition

Sales people are natural competitors. They love to match up against their peers. And they love to win. We set our Jeopardy teams based on the sales teams’ geographic regions – east, west, federal, and Europe. Since our Customer Services teams are responsible for generating business from existing customers, we also had them compete as well. And we set all of these teams against a team of Pre-sales engineers, generally regarded throughout the company as masters of the product. Early input from the Vegas odds-makers had the Pre-Sales team as the heavy favorites.

2. Use a Live Studio Audience to Raise the Pressure

audienceWe held our game in front of the whole company, and we promoted it as such in advance. The sales teams knew that their answers would be seen and heard by the management team, the engineers, the customer support staff, etc. Everyone in the company. So there was incentive to review the content to avoid embarrassment.

3. No Hidden Agendas – Publish and Promote the Source Material

We built our questions only on material that the sales teams had all previously received and which they had ready access to. There was no hidden agenda, or content based on “tribal knowledge.”

4. We’re All in the Same Boat – Every Team Member Must Answer

shutterstock_38366425Each of teams was comprised of six team members, and we charged team members with ensuring that every team member answered at least one question. That way, no team could rely on their “ace” – the heavy hitter who knows the answer to everything. After all, the goal of any sales enablement effort is to ensure the WHOLE sales team is highly effective at uncovering customer pain points and differentiating your product.

5. Include New Hires to Set the Bar High

We’ve added additional sales staff over the past few weeks to continue our growth. Even the team members who have been with our company for only a few weeks had to play.  No one got a “bye,” although new hires did have option to use a “lifeline” to ask someone in the audience (not on their team) to answer the question for them. This had the added benefit of emphasizing the need for everyone in the company to be familiar with our positioning.

6. Base the Content on Your Selling Priorities

We chose the categories and the questions themselves based on our most likely selling scenarios and the biggest selling opportunities for 2014. We had two categories of questions that had to do with differentiating our product from those in related market segments. And we had two categories of questions on mobility and one on virtualization, since those represent large growth drivers for the company.

7. Make it Fun

We found funny-sounding buzzers for each team to use, based on farm animal sounds and noises that emanate from the human body. This helped to keep the scene pretty light.

8. End on a High Note

We scheduled the game at the very end of the sales kick off meeting. It was a high energy, fun way to end the session. And before we handed out the trophies (to the Pre-sales team, as expected), we emphasized the importance of studying the content. After all, the whole purpose of the game was to set ourselves up for another successful year.

What’s Your Sales Kick Off Strategy?

Our Jeopardy game approached worked so well. The feedback was amazing, even from the sales teams who didn’t perform well. The management team loved the approach, and we’re already planning follow-up sessions. What’s your sales kick off strategy for emphasizing sales enablement?  Share your ideas. I’d love to hear them.

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