By Regina Farrington, EVP, Market Development

You’ve come to the close of another successful year managing your sales team. And while a break around the holidays is certainly well-deserved, you know that once January hits, it’s time to crank it into high-gear and start planning your annual sales kickoff.

A sales kickoff meeting is meant to unite your entire sales team, educate them on new products and services, update them on new strategies and goals, and get them excited and reenergized to hit the ground running and bring in business. A successful sales kickoff meeting will infuse your salesforce with the knowledge, inspiration, appreciation and confidence they need to close more sales than ever.

Here are 4 key strategies to use in planning a sales kickoff meeting that will unite and ignite your sales team.

1) Prioritize Your Goals

Sales kickoff meetings have four foundational goals that fuse together to create an ultimately inspiring and impactful experience:

Educate: What new product updates do you want them to know? What new selling skills or key information do you want them to learn? What key messages do you want to communicate?

Engage: What do you want to learn from your sales team? How will you create moments during the event to allow your sales reps to share their thoughts and ideas? How will you ensure your sales kickoff meeting is a two-way conversation?

Excite: How will you rally your sales team to get excited for the future of your business? How will you infuse motivational energy into the overall sales kickoff meeting?

Effect: What business goals do you want to achieve as a direct result of your sales kickoff meeting? Do you have the measurement tools in place pre-event to ensure you can collect the right data?

When you understand your goals for each of these four areas (and then prioritize which are the most important to your business), you’ll be able to craft an experience that is not only fun, but helps you affect change and make the exact impact you want to have on your community of sellers.

2) Listen to your sales team

While you and leadership have now identified the goals you want to achieve, it’s important to hear from the people for whom this sales kickoff is meant to inspire: your sales team. If your sales reps actually feel like they’ve been heard and that theirgoals are being met during this event, they’ll be far more eager to attend and far more engaged with event sessions and content.

In a pre-event survey, poll your sales reps and ask them what they’re most excited to learn or which sessions they’re looking forward to the most. Ask them what they hope their greatest takeaway will be. And then weave this insight into the event.

You could also hold a focus group with select members from each sales division. Ask them what they liked most about last year’s sales kickoff. What could be improved? What ideas do they have for making it a more valuable learning experience?

No matter what method you use to gather your sales team’s thoughts and opinions, you will have your sales reps’ attention from the onset of the sales meeting if they know they had a hand in shaping the event.

3) Weave purpose into your theme

You’ll want to create a theme that is representative of your sales kickoff meeting’s goals and ultimate purpose. Here are a few theme options to build from:

Learning & Information Theme: When the true purpose of your event is to teach new information and train your team on new skills.

Inspiration & Motivation Theme: When the true purpose of your event is to inspire your salesforce to keep pushing the envelope and working hard.

Let’s Celebrate Theme: When the true purpose of your event is to celebrate the great success of the previous year and encourage your sellers to keep the momentum going.

Time for Change Theme: When the true purpose of your event is to announce big changes to the business or the “new way we want to do things.”

Knowing your purpose and letting that guide the theme will also help you to intuitively choose the right speakers, choose the best session topics and craft an agenda that seamlessly weaves together to create a fluid, fun and unforgettable sales kickoff meeting.

4) Infuse your sales kickoff with energy

The best sales kickoffs will fuel, inspire, refocus and energize your entire salesforce. But if your SKO is a series of flat sessions and coffee breaks, you risk your content falling flat and your salesforce losing interest quickly. So how do you keep your salespeople on the edge of their seats, eager to engage?

Mix things up: It might logically make sense that you would hold all of your breakout sessions back-to-back, have a break for lunch, then jump back into more breakouts or workshops. But that’s just so boring (and expected). Instead, create a sales kickoff with peaks and valleys – workshops/sessions broken up by energized activities.

Make a sales kickoff playlist: Give your salespeople some melodical motivation in the form of a great playlist that sounds between sessions. You could also invite them to share their favorite songs to create the ultimate Spotify playlist that everyone can subscribe to.

Emphasize value: As you build content for every session and craft the attendee journey, make sure that you’re consistently considering how everything will impact your sales team. Every session or workshop should clearly show your sellers what’s in it for them and the value they’ll receive to help them perform better, contribute to the business, or develop personally and professionally.

Have fun: This should be obvious, but your sales kickoff is also meant to unite your salespeople, and building in moments of fun will amplify team bonding.Your sales team will be working hard and learning a ton of new information, and you’ll want to include a few activities or happy hours to give them some time to blow off steam, bond with their colleagues, and get reenergized for the next day of sessions.

Have a question around sales team communications, enablement or events? Feel free to connect with me. I’d love to talk more about how to best engage your sales team and drive change for your business. Check back soon for my upcoming blog post, “Top Survey Questions to Ask Sales Meeting Attendees.”

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If you liked this blog post, be sure to check out some of our other articles around planning your yearly Sales Kickoff or tips for engaging your sales team:

 

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