4 Ways to Create the Ultimate Sales Kickoff

January 7, 2020

4 Ways to Create the Ultimate Sales Kickoff

Editor's Note: This guest post was contributed by Lynne Zaledonis, SVP, Product Marketing Manager-Sales Cloud, Salesforce.

Whether your business has a handful of sales reps or is an organization with hundreds or thousands, an annual sales kickoff is vital to get everyone focused on growth and moving in the right direction. 

However, 29% of attendees often rate their company’s sales kickoff at a C (or below!) Having been to my fair share of sales kickoffs (20+) as a planner, presenter, and attendee, I’ve learned that inspiration, strategic planning, enablement, and future learning are the four elements to plan and execute an A-rated kickoff. These four elements can help ensure your organization is motivated, focused on the right priorities, and empowered all year round. 

1. Inspiration

A key priority for any kickoff is pretty simple: Getting pumped for an incredible upcoming sales year. To accomplish this, inspiration must run through the entire kickoff, from start to finish. 

Inspiration can come in many forms. You will most likely have senior leaders there to speak and engage with reps. But the motivation doesn’t all have to come directly from the company. An outside speaker can really bring a fresh perspective and pique the curiosity of attendees.

Of course, inspiration should also continue throughout the event’s presentations and activities. Remember that no one wants a death by PowerPoint—there’s nothing inspiring about that.

2. Strategic Planning

A kickoff is all about planning—communicating the plans and goals for the year ahead and plotting the paths to success. To make this happen, there must be a lot of strategic planning, well, for the planning!

Devising a kickoff starts with identifying the key goals. Ask the question, “What do you want attendees to walk away with?” Prioritize what may be most important, especially in terms of looking back at the previous year and sharing goals. An ideal agenda will include some must-haves such as engaging breakout sessions, networking events, and panels. And don’t forget to have some fun.

Also be sure to think about who should be at the event. A successful kickoff is no longer one siloed with sales only. According to the 2018 State of Sales report, 77% of salespeople say selling collaboratively with other departments, including marketing, finance, and extended team members, is critical to success. Involving both internal and external stakeholders at the kickoff is vital to bring everyone together. If it is not feasible to bring everyone together live, a virtual kickoff via live stream might be a good solution.

3. Enablement

Sales reps are only as successful as your enablement and support—and a sales kickoff is ground zero for delivering the information and training at one time.

Remember that any presentations and content should be interactive and designed for information retention. According to a Brainshark survey of 100 reps and leaders, over one-half wish their sales kickoffs were more interactive. It could be through games and prizes, a hackathon, or role playing with live feedback. Learning is much more effective when action is associated with it.

Also take the opportunity to involve customers in the event, from live panels to individual sessions or conversations. Their perspectives and input are invaluable to informing sales reps on not only what customers want, but how they can do their jobs better. 

4. Future Learning

A successful sales kickoff isn’t one that ends after everyone goes home. Attendees should be inspired and ready to hit the ground running. However, even with a keen focus on quality over quantity and delivering more interactive sessions at the kickoff, there’s a stark reality. People forget things. According to Forbes, 84% of all sales training is lost within 90 days. 

You can do several things to help mitigate this. Capture all of the sessions on video for redistribution, which is also important for those who couldn’t make it to the kick-off. Create one-page cheat sheets to distill the content and information. Think about ways for regions or individual teams to do their own smaller kickoffs throughout the year. 

It’s a shame to let all that content go to waste, so be sure to keep it in the mix as teams continue to execute plans throughout the year. 

At Salesforce, we’ve learned aquite a bit from our kickoffs. We’ve created this new step-by-step guide to help you get the most ROI from your big event. Check it out!