The best sales kickoffs are oriented around one simple and powerful objective: enabling salespeople to engage more effectively with the customer.
Too often, sales kickoffs get hijacked by marketing or product teams. This is an event where these teams can interface with all of sales once a year — and the result, many times, is an over-eagerness to overload sales with as much information as possible while they have their eyes and ears and can lock them in a windowless room to data dump.
While the CEO, the CPO and the CMO all can and often do contribute to the sales kickoff meeting, this is a sales meeting. It belongs to the head of sales. And everything discussed, shared, rallied around, practiced should be done so in the context of how it relates to and enables sales to better connect with the customer.
So if the sales kickoff is not a time for marketing and product takeover, what is the most successful formula?
Celebrate last year’s successes, but move on to creating future success.
If your sales team did great last year, certainly spend a couple hours giving one another high fives. Take this time to look at what worked and what did not work. And after those two hours expire, move on to the plan for the next year — how you, the head of sales, will lead your salespeople to execute the customer strategy in a new way or perhaps scale efforts.
Limit content to maximize value.
If your marketing department has 18 pieces of content to share with the sales team, and you know you have the capacity to take on six of those content pieces (and honestly, no sales kickoff affords the capacity for 18 pieces of content anyway), then cover the most valuable six.
Take those pieces of content and allow your sellers to focus on them, to learn them really well and to get really good at them. Coming out of the sales kickoff, you want sales to leverage tools that will help them communicate the content with the customer, so embed exercises in the agenda for sales to practice applying the content to customer scenarios through role-plays.
And what about those other 12 pieces of content? They can be introduced at a later date or at quarterly business review-type meetings. There is time. But your team cannot master 18 pieces of content in a three-day span. So why set them up to fail? Give them the assets that matter and that you want them to get after now.
Practice, practice, practice.
The majority of the sales kickoff meeting should be spent practicing. The goal, as a reminder, is to enable your salespeople with more effective ways to engage the customer.
Provide them the relevant content that communicates compelling messages — and then help them put it all into practice through exercises and role-plays.
If you or your head of sales is looking for help planning next year’s sales kickoff, please contact me to learn how we can ensure your sales kickoff is as effective as possible.