So you have decided to hold your first in-person sales kickoff since the 2020 pandemic. How do you make the event memorable beyond just the content? By fostering impromptu moments among your sales, pre-sales and services teams you can take your sales kickoff to the next level.
PAVE THE WAY FOR GAME-CHANGING IMPROMPTU SKO MOMENTS
The best spontaneous moments are carefully crafted and planned.
What? This may sound counter-intuitive but it is true. The responsibility of the SKO planning team is to create the environment in which spontaneity occurs naturally.
Engage your teams in some real learning.
The best sales kickoffs — those we call “activation” or “immersion” kickoffs — include the opportunity for some real learning and refinement of skills among your team. These could include prospecting, discovery, value mapping, proposals or any combination. This learning starts with a realistic role-play scenario that forms a common thread to which all of your attendees can relate. If everyone is working on the same “deal simulation” during kickoff, it gives them a common set of topics to talk about.
Be intentional about your small groups.
Role-play exercises that carry through your kickoff involve small group activities. Be intentional about the composition of these groups. Mix management, sales, pre-sales and services on each team. Consider forming teams across regions or countries to encourage new relationships and diverse perspectives.
Make it about discovery…of each other.
One of the most important skills we work on with sales teams is “discovery” — learning about the client’s or prospect’s issues and pain points. Further enhance your team’s discovery skills as a networking exercise. Give them a dance card with three kickoff attendees, and challenge everyone to “discover” as much as possible about their fellow team members. To be even more effective, make this a game and award some real prizes for the best results.
Carefully plan your agenda.
Build networking opportunities directly into your agenda. Beyond the small group composition suggested above, consider:
- Product / service offering demo stations especially for new offerings. Encourage interaction with product experts and provide note cards for visitors to capture key points of learning.
- Plan an extended lunch or afternoon break / cocktail period where attendees can work on their role-play assignments and complete their discovery dance cards.
- Add a team building dinner (separate from the customary awards dinner) to promote networking. Assign seats for appetizers, dinner and desserts / drinks and mix-up the tables between each course.
- Build-in some time on the final day of kickoff for a few volunteers to share what they learned from and about other fellow attendees at the event using true discovery best practices of business, financial and personal learnings.
Lead by example.
Sales and services management perform a vital role in encouraging informal interactions among their teams. Managers at all levels should set the example by participating in the role-plays, networking exercises and events. An entry-level sales professional who gets a chance to network with the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) will never forget the experience. And, the CRO will also gain valuable perspective on what things are like for the new person on the front lines. The same is true at all levels between management and individual contributors.
MAKE YOUR 2023 SALES KICKOFF COUNT
According to a recent Mereo survey, 55% of organizations plan to hold an in-person sales kickoff in 2023. Informal interactions and networking are vital to reinforce your culture and provide accountability among your team. This may be of particular importance in rapidly growing organizations, organizations with new leadership or organizations that have been in a prolonged mode of virtual operations.
As your SKO planning committee prepares to put its plans into action, look to the Mereo Sales Kickoff Planning Playbook to uncover more leading practices for an event that will make a real difference for your revenue performance in the year ahead.