Old Sales Habits Die Hard. How Can You Change Them During Your Sales Kickoff?

Most people have a morning routine they follow, no matter what. But what if they decided to change it up? Black tea instead of coffee. A mile run instead of an extra hour of sleep. How many mornings would they do it before reverting to the old routine? The science of human nature suggests not many.

Your salespeople’s behaviors are no different. When introducing new training and sales techniques, a common pushback you likely face is your teams wondering: Why should we adopt this new technique when what we are doing now is working? Even if your current techniques are good, the difference between “good” and “great” can be huge. If you find that, despite your best efforts, aspects of your sales kickoff just do not stick with your teams, there is no simple fix for this, but practice and repetition help form new habits. Below you will uncover why we as humans are prone to stick with old habits and five steps to ensure your sales kickoff efforts make an impact by instilling new patterns grounded in leading practices.


Why do your teams fall back into old habits? The cause can be boiled down to human psychology. The forgetting curve, which occurs when your brain forgets information over time if there is no effort of retention, is a model that illustrates average human retention. Your teams naturally struggle to retain new information and techniques from one sales kickoff engagement alone.

Presentation matters too. Adult retention rates have been shown to increase with demonstration, group work and hands-on practice — 30%, 50% and 75%, respectively. Furthermore, mistakes can actually improve memory. This is due to something called the derring effect. This just goes to show, practice truly does make perfect. So, how can you use this surface knowledge of human psychology to ensure your teams will remember what you are trying to teach them?


Give an abbreviated example of “bad” behaviors. This step is tied to the derring effect. Giving your teams an example of common mistakes will show them what you would like them to do in a scenario in place of what has been done previously. This could be a procedure that was previously in place that your teams were missing, or it could be an old procedure versus a new one you would like them to adopt.

Introduce the new technique and how to use it. Once you have shown your teams what not to do, show them how you would prefer they handle a scenario. In this step, ensure you have a captivating presentation — something concrete for your teams to refer to later.

Explain why this new technique works. Once you introduce the new technique, detail why you have chosen this technique and how it will benefit your teams and business in the long run. This extra step helps reinforce that this behavior change is important to you — and gives your salespeople grounds for why it should be important to them too. You will likely spend most of your time on this step and the last step.

Model the benefits of the new technique in action. Similar to the first step, demonstrate a scenario where your teams would use this new technique. Seeing it in action will help your teams to better understand what areas they can improve and how they can effectively use the new technique.

Have your teams practice the new technique. Set aside ample time for this step. Separate your teams into small groups or pairs and instruct them to practice the new technique with a given scenario. Once they have done this a few times, ask them to demonstrate in front of you. This is a safe place for your teams. Encourage them to push themselves and to not be afraid to make mistakes or to lean on each other during this exercise. Finally, give them a new scenario and do it again! This extensive role-playing will help your teams retain more.

The bottom line is to reinforce what your teams have learned or they will likely forget in a few months.

Hands-on Activities and Togetherness — Your Key to Success

We at Mereo have been privileged to assist many businesses with building impactful sales kickoff programs that stick. Truly, the best thing you can implement is togetherness among your teams. This will result in a sense of community and raise morale. Pairing this with proper execution of hands-on activities is the recipe for a successful sales kickoff.

If you are looking for more resources for a meaningful and successful sales kickoff, consider reading our new eBook: the Mereo Sales Kickoff Planning Playbook. Hot off the press and ready to help you as you navigate your way through sales kickoff season.

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