I’m a big fan of sales kickoffs. As a former vice president of sales, I learned that well-conducted sales kickoff meetings make you money---they don’t cost you money.
Sure, there are visible costs to conducting an effective meeting. They can include hiring an event management company, investing in technology tools in order to run a virtual meeting, hiring speakers, and investing time in planning and execution.
But what often is missing from the profit-and-loss statement is the invisible revenue, the upside of conducting sales kickoffs, such as:
The teamwork and retention of top sales producers that feel proud and excited to be part of the company.
The piece of advice and mentoring shared by a veteran with a newbie that makes a difference in the latter’s ability to open and close business in the upcoming quarters.
The motivation provided from internal and external speakers, encouraging people to do better and be better, and providing sellers with the mindset to win the challenging game of sales.
Here are five tips from my former SKO planning days to consider in planning your 2021 sales kickoff.
1. Get a theme and carry it out throughout every session in your meeting and the year. One year we chose the theme of ATTITUDE. To carry out this theme, I persuaded one of my sellers, who had a terrific voice, to come out on stage posing as Patti Labelle and sing, of course, “I Got A New Attitude.” She was accompanied by her backup singers, alias myself and regional sales managers. It brought down the house and set the tone for a positive ATTITUDE.
2. Fun! We could all use a good dose of recess right now with the many changes, pivots and pressures that have come with the pandemic. As you plan your agenda, keep asking the question: How and where can we interject fun? You can:
- Hire an emcee that keeps things moving throughout the meeting, summarizing presentation highlights and throwing in some humor.
- Games and contests: Use your imagination to figure out how to move in-person games to virtual. An easy one to consider is a scavenger hunt. And it could get quite interesting as you include items in your sellers homes.
- Skits: Feature some of your heavyweights in skits, particularly the ones at your company whom many people don’t think have a fun bone in their bodies. It will make them human and authentic, which experts keep telling you is the secret to great leadership.
3. Education. There are new lines of business and products to launch. Avoid death by Powerpoint by investing time coaching AND rehearsing with subject matter experts. Be intentional about delivering a presentation that engages the audience. Interview a longtime client about the new line of business and hear how they are looking at including it in their tool set. Include polls to test whether the information is landing and making sense to participants. Encourage the use of Chat for fielding questions. If possible, break your sales team into breakout rooms to discuss how customers and prospects can benefit from this new product or service.
4. Build teamwork. Sales is not a department, and the sales kickoff is a great time to show appreciation for the invisible talent, the people behind the scenes that complete the revenue cycle. Take time to recognize members of your team from accounting, IT, warehouse, legal and customer service, and thank them for their contributions.
From one of my former sales kickoffs, I distinctly remember the applause the sales team gave our shipping and warehouse team when they learned that they had shipped 30,000 more items that year with the same amount of staff.
It takes a sales village to win and retain business. Recognize all members of your team.
5. Recognition and rewards. Sales kickoffs are a great time to recognize and reward salespeople that have achieved their revenue goals. Keep up the great recognition and throw in a few other awards to support the overall sales culture you want to build.
- Give an Extra Mile Award. Recognize the salesperson that goes above and beyond the contract for clients.
- Give a Helping Hand Award. This is the salesperson that takes time to help other team members, even when they don’t have the time.
- Give a Resiliency Award. Recognize a salesperson that has demonstrated optimism and tenacity, despite setbacks.
It’s time for the sales kickoff. Choose a theme, incorporate fun, eliminate boring presentations and recognize all the talents demonstrated by your sales team.