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Three Tips For Planning Your Sales Kickoff Meeting

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Year end is fast approaching.  You know what that means right?  Holiday parties?  Wrong. It’s time to start planning your sales kickoff meeting.  In this three part series Menemsha Group offers tips for selecting a keynote speaker, and ideas for running your sales Three tips planning your sales kickoff meetingkickoff meeting and now, three tips for planning your sales kickoff meeting.

In theory, sales kickoff meetings are supposed to be full of excitement and energy.  They’re supposed  to inspire  team members and push people out of their comfort zone to apply new sales strategies for the coming year.  Everyone is supposed to walk out of their sales kickoff meeting dying to get back on the phones so they can share all of their new ideas.  But do they? 

I have been part of sales kickoff meetings that have been flat out awesome and super fun and others that have been downright boring and awkward.  Let’s face it, putting together a sales kickoff meeting is a big investment.  But they also require having a strategy and proper planning.  Here are three tips for planning your 2014 sales kickoff meeting. 

Determine Your Theme or Mantra.  What is your number one high level goal that you wish for your sales team to achieve in 2014?  Is your goal to grow gross profit margins? Perhaps it’s to open more accounts and increase overall market share?  Whatever your goal is, it should be woven into the fabric of your kickoff meeting.  Your overall agenda should be filled with activities and presentations that will drive the sales behavior that will enable you to hit your goals and ultimately support your theme or mantra.  For example, if your sales goal for 2014 is to increase your sales closure rate, the theme of your sales kickoff meeting could be “Refuse to Lose.”  You could then build content and activities around “never giving up,” and closing deals.  You could have members of your sales team share stories that resemble this “Refuse to Lose” attitude and the results.   You could build out additional team building exercises that focus on supporting this theme and achieving the desired goal. 

Keep in mind that when your sales kickoff meeting theme or mantra you need to be tuned into the morale of your sales force.  Sale people and sales teams tend to have ups and downs.  When team morale is low, say after a tough year or quarter, you can’t afford to take as much risk in the theme or mantra you chose.  If you do, you will be sending a message to your sales team that you’re really out of touch with reality.  As a result you will likely alienate your sales team (they’ll roll their eyes and think the meeting is a joke) and not reap the desired results from your sales kickoff meeting.  So don’t pick an over the top theme.  Instead, pick a theme that is more neutral and practical.  If however you’re coming off a very positive year, take a chance and have some fun with your theme or mantra.  Think big. “Swing For The Fences” could be your theme.

Consider Meeting Takeaways Ahead of Time.  I suggest you begin planning your sales kickoff meeting with the end in mind.  What is it that you want your sales team to do as a result of your sales kickoff meeting?   What sales behavior are you trying to drive and encourage?  How do you want them to sell differently from how they sell today?  When they get back to the office Monday morning, what do you want them to do and what tools or resources might they need to do those things?  All of this should be well thought out in advance of the meeting to help ensure you maximize your results from your sales kickoff meeting.  Remember, this meeting is an opportunity, let’s not waste people’s time. 

Follow up & Reinforcement. Far too often after a sales kickoff meeting has ended salespeople say: 

a.       “I don’t remember what was covered in the training program.” 
b.      “I tried it once and it didn’t work.”
c.       “I didn’t get enough practice using the tools.” 

As you plan your sales kickoff meeting you will also want to plan how you will reinforce your theme or mantra over the weeks and months that follow.   Research shows that on average, most people retain less than 20% of the material covered in the typical kickoff meeting.  Reinforcing the training material and content covered in your meeting needs to be followed up with consistent reinforcement to ensure it “sticks.”  

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