The New Year is looming, the page set to turn to 2019. With it comes the annual Sales Kickoff for many organizations, who are taking advantage of the new calendar year to generate excitement, create a sense of a fresh start, and typically introduce new information and training heading in to the new year. It’s part celebration, part learning that can set the tone for the rest of the year. Given a sales kickoff’s significance, careful planning needs to be done to ensure a successful event takes place and is valuable to those attending.
- Figure out what your primary objectives are and communicate the “why”.
Like with just about everything in sales, your planning starts with determining what goals and objectives you want to accomplish during the kickoff. Is it to generate momentum? Celebrate your star reps? Execute training on a new or upcoming product? Teach a new sales process? Some combination thereof? Setting your expected outcomes, and more critically, communicating to those attending why these activities are taking place, will inform the agenda and approach while energizing the participants.
- Acknowledge your top sales reps, then use them to inspire others.
A Sales Kickoff is often the time of year when businesses publicly recognize and award the best-performing sales reps of the previous year – whether that’s by revenue, percentage attainment over quota, best new sales rep, top customer service, or some other category (Note: It’s also possible to give awards in several categories – particularly for large organizations). It’s a logical time to present these awards – the stars feel valued and appreciated, and those who don’t win are inspired (at least in the short term) to gun for the awards next year.
But the accolades aren’t the only way to make the top reps feel special and inspire your B and C reps. In fact, you can have your winners tell stories or host micro sessions where they discuss how and why they were successful. While not a formal training in and of themselves, these short presentations are a way for less successful reps to learn from more accomplished ones and consider incorporating those strategies in their own sales process.
- Theme matters.
Although perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind, and sometimes regarded as less important, the theme of the event can make or break your kickoff. To create a brilliant theme, you need to consider two factors: 1) your company culture, and 2) your team’s goals for the year. For example, if your company isn’t one that’s up to date and interested in current pop culture, a Harry Potter themed kickoff would seem cheesy. On the other hand, it could be talked about for weeks if you have a team that’s largely made of fans of the series (Imagine the head of your rival company as Voldemort, or the strictest sales manager in your organization as Snape for lots of laughs).
In terms of goals, let’s say you’re the #3 company in market share in your vertical. You could structure the event theme around becoming #1. Or perhaps economic conditions have led to a downturn in sales. In that case, your kickoff event wouldn’t be so upbeat and celebratory (everyone knows times are tough). Instead, it’d be a determined tone, centered around building back up, with sessions designed to help sales reps return revenues to higher levels.
- Provide reinforcement and follow-up for any training taking place during the kickoff.
Because a sales kickoff is packed full of activities and sessions, there’s a high probability that information and skills imparted in training during that time period (whether sales or product related) will experience even greater memory attrition than a normal training event. Therefore, it’s even more important that you follow-up the kickoff training with reinforcement and refresher (as you should with any training, no matter when it takes place).
Done correctly, your company’s sales kickoff will kickstart a successful opening to the fiscal year and motivate your reps to high productivity. Following the guidelines we’ve recommended here will go a long way towards achieving that aim.