The CommercialTribe Blog

Subscribe Today
« Back to the Blog

Your New Strategy for Sales Kickoff: Certify to Fly

Posted by Gavin Matthews on 10/8/15 10:50 AM

Sales Kickoff challenges are enormous, and unfortunately all too common. We all struggle to coordinate reps onsite and verify that they review the new skills, messages, and behaviors we want them to learn. We make herculean investments in content, travel, and entertainment that can rival the spend on a new product itself. Yet, few benefits seem to extend beyond the event.

This disconnect not only represents real dollars, but undermines what we expect our reps to learn each year. At the typical Sales Kickoff, fewer than half of attendees are actually paying attention to all of the critical information shared, and nearly all will forget the content after a month. Without ways to make learning measurable and reinforced, we again risk sending our reps into an expensive, and ultimately fruitless event.

How do we reset the Sales Kickoff equation and provide ample practice and visibility into the event?


Certify to Fly.


The Certify to Fly process, coined by Veritas, serves as a general framework for how to approach a more engaging, impactful, and “sticky” learning event. What Certify to Fly does is enforce a process of learning onto what was formerly a single event, and thus guarantee that learners – reps or managers – are becoming familiar with content before traveling. Certify to Fly requires your sales team to either certify in advance of the Sales Kickoff event or lose their ticket to travel.


How Does it Work?

Certify to Fly can be broken down into three general steps that utilize parts of your blended learning solution. 



The biggest change to the Sales Kickoff framework actually happens before the event – certification. Typically, we send reps and managers to the event with some degree of pre-work: a whitepaper and slides to review or all-hands call to dial into. Yet, once we hit “send” on the email or hang up the phone, our visibility into what the team is actually engaged with and what they take away from the content is lost.

With Certify to Fly, sales team members enter a light, message-focused certification exercise before they are given their plane ticket for Sales Kickoff. This ensures that the team reviews content before the event, and allows leadership visibility into who practices, and what they practice.

While we recommend video as the best medium to go about this certification exercise, with its easy scalability, engaging format, and ability to support practice, any form of pre-certification can offer improvements to the status quo. Simply pre-testing reps before they get their ticket can weed out who at least tried to practice from those not willing to engage.



In a normal Sales Kickoff, reps and managers come together for a three-day session in Florida or a trip to the corporate headquarters. With Certify to Fly, the same team only gets their tickets to fly when the pass through pre-certification, guaranteeing that they have at least observed and practiced the skills, messages, and behaviors assigned.

The event itself consists of normal team-building, roleplay, and keynote exercises, where teams can engage with the behaviors and messages that they certified on before the event. Instead of hoping that the team reviewed core materials before joining their peers, we can now ensure that everyone at the event has familiarity with the same content.



After the event, reps or managers come back and undergo a behavioral certification program and/or periodic skills checks. For CommercialTribe’s video platform, these occur in a video-based Certification and SpotCheck activity cycle, but any certification-based tool in your blended learning solution can deliver some degree of reinforcement. The goal is to simply check on post-event learning and offer reps a route to reflect on what they learned and integrate it into their selling.

Reinforcement ensures that learners are actually reengaging with the skills or messages after they learn them so that reps can them effectively take it into the marketplace. The more frequently practice occurs, the more likely it is that the learner will master the topic and be able to repeat it later on. Through the 90-120 days following the event, periodic knowledge checks also help identify what lessons are sticking, and which need work.


The Certify to Fly framework can reinvent how we approach Sales Kickoff today. Share your Sales Kickoff story below, and see how Corporate Visions used Certify to Fly to introduce 6 new sales conversations into their global organization.

About the Author

Gavin Matthews

Gavin Matthews is a CommercialTribe Product Owner and Director of Enterprise Integration. Previously, he worked in sales and marketing across leading startups, including Tidal Labs and Genius. Gavin is an avid fan of Colorado and can most often be found in the mountains.

Find me on:

Topics: Sales Enablement, Upskilling

Subscribe to the Blog

Popular Posts