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Sales Kickoff: Why You Should Start Planning Your 2018 Meeting Now

Aug 10th, 2017


We’re more than halfway through 2017, and your annual (and in some cases mid-year) sales kickoff meetings are in the rearview mirror. But have you gone back to assess the impact of those meetings? As a sales enablement leader, it’s time to consider quantifying the ROI from your last kickoff – such as whether reps are performing better or if sales cycles have become shorter – and using these data points to plan your 2018 sales kickoff meeting.

Sales kickoff starts a new year and serves as a launching pad for everything your team will look to achieve in the months that follow. But in order for it to be useful, it requires a significant amount of preparation and strategic thinking upfront.

It may seem like you have plenty of time to plan your 2018 sales kickoff meeting, but now is the time to start. Here are a few things sales enablement leaders should begin thinking about before the summer heat begins to cool.

Identify stakeholders

The best way to ensure alignment across departments and create a kickoff theme built around your company goals and vision is to identify the kickoff planning committee upfront. Try to keep the committee to 5 people or less, including your sales enablement team, chief revenue officer or senior sales leaders and events coordinator. Task these individuals with soliciting feedback from the executive team and frontline sales and marketing managers.

Ask your sales team what they would like to hear about at sales kickoff – after all, this meeting is for them. You can survey the sales team to have them share their pain points and what would be most valuable to them during sales kickoff. Then use the data you collect to inform the agenda and key topics. This will also make salespeople feel more invested and engaged in sales kickoff because they’ve played a role in influencing the agenda.

Create a working agenda

Use the data from your survey to the sales team as well as suggestions from the planning committee to outline an initial agenda (this will likely change over before the actual kickoff – and that’s okay!). Establishing a working agenda upfront will help you prioritize kickoff activities and is a key factor that will drive the meeting’s overall success.

Outline an agenda with key topics, possible presenters, customer speakers and any recreational activities. Develop a draft of your strategic theme and start thinking about the pre-work that will connect with each session. Stay consistent with your theme and strategic initiatives so reps are left with an overall message that ties everything together.

Related: Why You Need to Approach Sales Kickoff Differently This Year

Define measurements of success

Sales kickoff can be a stake in the ground to evaluate quantifiable metrics for the sales team, such as onboarding time, time to first closed deal and length of sales cycle. What behaviors and results do you want to see from your team after sales kickoff?

Defining success metrics in advance makes it easier to reinforce the sales content and initiatives rolled out during kickoff. It also provides visibility into any gaps in knowledge. You can track whether reps have become more efficient or are closing deals more quickly. It also makes it easier to create sales training programs that dovetail on sales kickoff and work toward the strategic initiatives that you’re looking to achieve in the new year.

Design pre-work

Sales kickoff is time to prepare the troops and renew their motivation. Sales reps are expected to master a lot of information, including new products, strategic initiatives, value messaging and sales methodology, to name a few. Sales kickoff is an ideal time to get the teams’ undivided attention for this type of training, but because you have a limited amount of time with them together as a group, your top priority must be ensuring that this time is used effectively.

By developing pre-work in advance (for which sales enablement technology can help!), you can eliminate the redundant presentations that can typically occur throughout kickoff, leaving more time for team breakout exercises, peer-to-peer learning and certification opportunities. This makes for a more engaging and exciting meeting that promotes the sharing of best practices and collaboration. You’ll even have time to throw in some fun and motivational recognition. Then, follow up after the meeting with reinforcement training and coaching so the pre-work comes full circle.

For more ideas on planning a successful sales kickoff, check out Before, During, After: Planning Your Sales Kickoff Meeting with Sales Enablement Technology.

Need help with your sales kickoff? Learn how Brainshark can help.