Joining LinkedIn brought a long list of “first time” experiences, and last week I participated in my first sales kick off. To be fair, I was more anxious than excited. This is because I usually get lost and overwhelmed in hectic places with lots of people. The happy ending: it was a great experience that combined fun and some important lessons. In this blog I want to share with you three main takeaways I learned from this 60-hour experience.
Start with Why
When working for a big global corporation, it can be a challenge to connect to its core values. Many times, employees are not aware of the company’s values and as a result there is a potential disconnect from the vision and mission. What I loved about this Sales Kick-off (SK) was getting to focus on the fact that we are on a greater mission here than just “sell more and get richer.” My favourite quote was: ״when our customers win, we win.” When you focus on providing value to the customer as your main goal, you transform yourself from being a vendor to a partner. I first learned this approach as a business development manager when I worked in a consulting firm that specialized in interpersonal communication skills, and I am thrilled to see that a large corporation like LinkedIn is operating with this goal in mind. Attending an SK with 6500 other people and being reminded that our approach is “customer first”, connected the dots for me regarding the “why are we here.” Yes, we are in sales and being measured by a quota; however, if we truly help our customers, they gain more value and so do we: they win, we win
Meet new people and reconnect
The theme for this sales kick-off was “Reconnect.” After two years of Covid-19 restrictions where our lives were based on social distancing and building relationships solely remotely, we finally had the chance to meet people in person. Since I’m relatively new at LinkedIn, I transformed the “Reconnect” theme to “Strengthening” the relationships I have and “Meeting New People.” Despite the sheer size of this event, I found myself investing most of my time with my team and enjoying the different aspects of Las Vegas with them. However, I challenged myself to speak with at least three new people a day from different regions, lines of businesses, and roles, whether it was during the 5 minutes before a session began, breakfast time, or even in the elevator and hallways. I found it too hard to be in my regular socializing MO, so I chose a conservative yet effective method.
Know your limits
I’ve never attended a conference with 6500 people. This is a huge event and for someone who avoids crowded places this could have been a catastrophe. We were constantly warned to be responsible and take care of our friends, as ultimately everyone wants to have a good time, but no one wants to do anything stupid. The following quote by Mark Manson sums it up for me: “How do you know when to ‘push your limits’ and when to ‘know your limits’? Push your limits when extra effort produces more reward than cost. Know your limits when the extra effort produces more cost than reward.” Being away from home in Las Vegas, where everything is larger than life, can create a sensory overload. You tend to feel a crippling FOMO by not attending everything and being everywhere. I followed Manson’s quote and kept checking with myself: how do I feel, am I too tired and what are my limits. Looking back, I am sure I missed some of the parties and crazy fun in choosing to step back and know my limits, but I prefer cringing from FOMO than facing potential regret.
Looking forward here are my two cents
I am writing this blog while having a relaxing weekend with my family in California. I think that after a 60-hour “ultra-marathon” of socializing and partying, some quiet family time is exactly what I need to recharge my batteries and build excitement for next year. There’s a fine line between a great experience and an exhausting experience at a SK, so it’s important for you to know how to create balance between pushing your limits and knowing your limits.