I’ve heard a lot of that this year as I’ve been working with Sales VPs, Sales Directors, and Sales Managers who want to get a fast start to 2018. I thought it might be a good idea to talk a bit about what makes for an effective Sales Kickoff. Here goes….
What should be covered at a great Sales Kickoff? Should we do a bunch of training on products, get an overview of our services offerings, spend time reviewing our sales process methodology or do something else? What is the best use of the Sales Team’s time at the Kickoff?
Consider Your Audience: Remember that the main reason for doing an annual Sales Kickoff is to help your Sales Team to get out of the starting blocks with a great start and to help to motivate them to continue running ahead of the competition. Sales Kickoffs cost a lot of money, so whatever you do, make sure that your agenda and your investment are in sync. Get some feedback from your Sales Team about what they would find valuable to them, in helping them to sell more, and to sell at higher margins and build a bunch of pipelines. Avoid the temptation to make the Sales Kickoff a forum for the Management Team so that you squeeze every drop of attention and energy out of your team. Nobody wants to leave Kickoff exhausted. Make your Kickoff revolve around your Sales Team and equip them to have a strong year of outstanding performance, and you’ll be glad you did.
Understand Motivation: As a Sales Leader, you need to be thinking about the motivations of every single individual in your sales organization and make sure that their motivations are well known to you and well understood. More than anything else, a great Sales Kickoff is about equipping your team and ensuring that they are motivated. Educate them, about the profession of selling, don’t overdo the product training, services training and for heaven’s sake, please don’t consider the Sales Kickoff as the place to have a deep dive into your Go To Market processes. Sales Kickoff is NOT a place to solve problems; it is a place to develop a clear strategy for excellence in selling and motivating the team to make it happen.
Build A Culture of Achievement: Your Kickoff should be about creating a collegial atmosphere where your team learns how to collaborate at a high level and begins to build a healthy culture of competition to be the top salesperson or top sales team. Celebrate and recognize your Top Performers in as many relevant categories as make sense. Do not dare think about celebrating everyone or you diminish the value of the recognition for those superstars who really did something extraordinary last year. Make it fun and invest enough time and resources to do the recognition right. Consider giving awards that will last for decades and become a source of pride in accomplishment, rather than just handing out bonuses and big checks. There is nothing wrong with handing out checks to top performers, but you can extend your culture more with something innovative that will create a lasting trophy for the recipient. Think like the green jacket that the Masters Champion receives. Now, who in their right mind would want a bright green jacket, other than a top golfer? Let your top performers tell a story or two about the successes they enjoyed next year, and then ask them what they’ve learned that leaves them excited about the opportunity of the year ahead.
Don’t Shove 40 Pounds of Stuff Into a 10 Pound Bag: We’ve all been to a big meeting where the manager kept the team in sessions from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. What a miserable experience and what a quick way to lose the trust and respect of your team! Give your team time for some reflection and some interaction with their peers and the people they normally don’t get much time with. It’s at a Sales Kickoff where relationships can be forged, and trust can be furthered. Your team will appreciate having an opportunity to talk, share ideas and to have a chance to create some memories. They work REALLY hard all year, give them some time to enjoy Kickoff! Keep the schedule light, so that they can feel relaxed and focus on the year ahead.
That’s a great start! This is the time of year when the Sales Team gathers and gears up for the battle ahead. Make the most of your opportunity to get the team together and make it a positive experience for them, and avoid turning it into something that the team will dread year after year. I wish you an energetic and successful Sales Kickoff, and a great year in 2018!
Michael is an executive development coach and business advisor who spends a lot of time at Sales Kickoffs as a Keynote Speaker, Trainer of Sales Teams, and Developer of the Next Generation of Sales Professionals and Leaders. If you’d like to have Michael come to your Sales Kickoff and deliver a memorable keynote talk or a great workshop on selling complex solutions, give us a ring at 651-335-4505 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.