‘Tis the season for many companies to plan their sales kickoffs. You have a budget and a bunch of ideas about how to build an exciting experience for the sellers. With many competing ideas and not enough time to plan, where is the best place to start? This guide can help you navigate the complexities of planning a fantastic event.
1. Clearly define the objectives for the participants. You’re serving a large audience that has different needs. How do you sort through and find a common set of outcomes that will work for everyone? There will always be some key topics around growth plays and new announcements – what’s the sales organization’s take on them? What’s marketing’s? How do you maintain a consistent message? Identify the key sales and marketing leaders and get their perspectives and alignment – be sure to incorporate their ideas into the agenda. With their fingerprints on it, they will be stronger supporters of the sessions. Another way to solicit feedback is to seek out the ideas of the sellers. Ask the opinions of a tenured person and of a brand new one. Once the objectives are defined, communicate them to the participants early and often so they can see what’s in it for them after a significant investment of their time.
2. Diversify the topics. Of course, part of the education must be solution training and learning about roadmaps, etc. It gets boring pretty quickly – you’ll see the participants checking phones, leaving the room, going to the pool – anything to distract themselves. What if you could capture and keep their attention? The best sellers are naturally curious and want to hone their skills. What if you could step out of the solution education for a few hours and introduce a new sales skill? For example, one of our clients brought in a mindfulness specialist to walk sellers through how to mentally and physically prepare for an anxiety-inducing client meeting. At first, the participants were skeptical but quickly saw the benefit and appreciated the activity. Another client who began the sales transformation journey asked us to keynote the event with a focus on why business and financial acumen is so critical today, and why buying executives couldn’t care less about features and functions. The options are endless – just step outside of the solution training box!
3. Focus on building the company culture. Who doesn’t want to feel a part of something bigger? What does your company stand for? How do you want to show up to your clients? Salesforce does the best job with highlighting their culture – their Ohana principles run deep and make a huge impact. The sellers and customers love it. Build the cornerstones of your culture into the event theme and topics. You’ll have more engaged, happier participants who feel more connected to the company.
4. Make time for collaboration. Sellers are in the field with customers, and don’t get time to spend with their peers. We hear time and again that some of the most valuable time is spent learning from their peers and sharing what works or doesn’t work– getting a feel for what’s happening in other parts of the country and world. Let’s be real – there will likely be a happy hour, so people can have a few drinks and socialize. But there are other ways to build community. Does your company have a charity? Modern companies carve out time for a volunteer event to support it. Are the field teams aligned by industry? We’ve seen “communities of interest” or “birds of a feather” breakouts where sellers who serve the same type of clients can get to know each other and share industry perspectives. These are the kinds of activities which build relationships that extend beyond the event.
If you’re responsible for your sales kickoff, you’ve got a lot to do with little time to do it. By working with your sales and marketing leaders to clearly define the objectives with a focus on culture and community, you can build a few days that maximize the impact for your sales team, and, ultimately, for your customers.
Need help with your sales kickoff planning? Learn more about our virtual and live sales training.