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8 Ingredients of an Unforgettable Sales Kickoff

Sep 14th, 2018

How important is your sales kickoff? Consider this: you might only get one chance all year to gather reps, managers and sales leadership under one roof.

Sales enablement teams that make the most of this opportunity will motivate their teams to achieve the goals they’ve set for the upcoming year. But delivering an engaging and memorable message is only possible through careful planning.

What is a Sales Kickoff?

A solid sales kickoff begins with the following goals in mind:

  • Everyone should leave the meeting feeling confident about the company’s strategy and direction
  • They should be excited about the product and the enhancements to come
  • They should be re-energized and ready to sell, knowing that they have been set up to succeed in the coming year

With so little time and so much to accomplish, how do you plan an effective, motivational and fun sales kickoff?

1. Set the Stage with Pre-Learning

A pre-learning curriculum will help maximize the value your sellers get from the kickoff. At Brainshark, we use our sales readiness platform to survey our sales reps prior to our sales kickoff, asking questions such as “which pain points should be addressed during kickoff?” or “which breakout sessions do you want to attend?”

By ensuring sellers are adequately trained and invested in kickoff beforehand, there’s more time for team building exercises, peer-to-peer learning, and breakout sessions during the day – allowing you to make the most of your sales reps’ time.

2. Start with an Energizer

We start our mornings with a hearty breakfast and upbeat music. Our CSO starts the day by welcoming the team, sharing the kickoff agenda and setting expectations for what we’re looking to accomplish.

We always try to throw in something fun from the get-go, whether it’s a video clip of new hires thanking the team for their help during onboarding the past year, or an ice-breaker that encourages people to meet colleagues they don’t work with every day.

3. Review Sales Strategy

There’s almost always a brief recap of the previous year, but we try not to spend too much time reviewing the results. The team already knows the results well before kickoff, because we are always communicating with them.

At this point, we move on to the goals for the new year. A sales leader will share the strategic plan and goals of the company and articulate how the organization is going to win and outsell the competition.

4. Workshops and Breakout Activities

There’s no better time than kickoff to encourage cross-departmental collaboration, so we prioritize building in breakout group projects, contests, and social activities.

As a best practice, we create groups in advance so they contain a good mix of people from different teams, including both new hires and veterans. It’s all about eliminating cliques.

We also print off handouts with directions for each group in advance. When you have multiple groups working on different scenarios, don’t rely on the main presentation screens to display directions. Chances are, you have more scenarios than screens. If we expect a presentation from each group, we provide them with a template to create the presentation.

We prepare senior leaders with the expectations in advance, so they can observe and provide the appropriate level of guidance and support. We always build in at least one team-building activity that will have a positive social impact. For example, we have built bicycles for a children’s charity, as well as put together comfort bags for local shelters. 

5. Spotlighting Sales Success

A great way to inspire and motivate salespeople is to give them the opportunity to learn from each other. Sharing best practices and tribal knowledge allows your highest-performing sales reps to share how they start their sales conversations, what processes they follow, how they navigated the deal, which objections they have handled and how they collaborated with other team members to ensure a win.

6. Highlighting Product Enhancements

Kickoff should be used to highlight the power of your product. Work with product management to deliver a top-notch product presentation that highlights how far you’ve come and what to expect in the new year. Pump up your sales team so they can’t wait to sell the product!

7. Recognition and Celebration

Celebrate the team as much as you can throughout the day. It’s a great and refreshing way to break up the monotony of presentation after presentation. Along with acknowledging sales reps that have achieved their quota goals, find moments to recognize non-sales roles for their commitment and contribution to the company.

At the end of the day, be sure to announce how you’ll celebrate future achievements. This is a perfect time to announce the President’s Club trip, and any first-quarter spiffs that will encourage sales to start the year off right.

8. Have Fun

Your team works hard; be sure to have some fun. Schedule a cocktail hour at the end of the day. Hand out some company-branded swag – sweatshirts, socks, wine glasses, etc. When you make company meetings more enjoyable, it will boost the engagement and experience for every attendee.

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