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The start of the sales year is synonymous with sales kickoff season. As a sales leader, it’s your first opportunity to set the stage for success.

Whether you’re hosting an in-person sales kickoff event, are going virtual, or using a hybrid approach, you can ensure your kickoff makes the greatest sales training impact if you follow this guide to planning a strategic sales kickoff.

This article will provide you and your team with a framework for a successful event and event follow-up.

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Set Your Sales Kickoff Goals

What are your goals for your kickoff and what outcomes do you want to accomplish? I recommend tying in three to five business or sales goals from your sales plan. Consider these questions:

  • What is the status of your industry?
  • What trends are currently happening in the market that can influence your business?
  • Where does the business want to be in the next 12 months?
  • What are the greatest challenges your sales team will face next year?
  • Is your go-to-market strategy changing in a way that will potentially impact your sales team?
  • How are you interacting with your clients, and how is that shifting?
  • What can sales and marketing do to better align their activities to one another and overall sales goals?

Ideally sales leaders, sales team members, sales enablement, and marketing are involved in this discussion and in finalizing your sales kickoff goals.

Create a Sales Kickoff Agenda Focused on Education

An ideal sales kickoff agenda should be balanced. Too often I see sales kickoffs that put all the focus on product or service updates. While product-specific components are important, it’s more important to emphasize strategic thinking and sales skills.

As you’re planning your agenda, below are some areas to consider.

1. Sales Process Updates

With all the upheaval of the last two years, have you updated your sales process? If so, your sales kickoff is a perfect opportunity to review the sales process and engage your team on it.

I like to think of sales process like a staircase. It’s a linear, repeatable set of steps that move a sales opportunity through the sales pipeline. When it comes to successfully managing the supply chain issues happening across industries, driving your sales process becomes more critical. Miss a forecast and you may not have the product, parts, or staff to fulfill an order.

No matter the type of industry or business you’re in, a repeatable, structured sales process is a must to increase sales.

2. Sales Methodology Strategy and Training

Along with sales process, your sales kickoff is also an opportunity to design or update your sales methodology. I like to think of sales methodology is like a chess match. These elements are designed to support your sales goals and sales process. Methodology can include elements like strategy, tactics, and skills. For the purposes of a sales kickoff some examples could include mapping your client’s buying process around a new products or service, designing RFP strategy, or brainstorming new programs to support your team or external partners, or specific skill development.

3. Relationship Building

For many sellers, sales kickoff is an opportunity to interact with peers and leaders across the organization or within certain areas of the business.

Depending on how your sales kickoff is conducted this year, you may need to adapt how you enable your team to build those relationships, but the fundamentals are still there. Each team member will need to intentionally decide on which relationships they want to build, and then go about putting a plan in place to build them. You may ask each sales professional to submit their relationship-building plan that you can coach them to before the event.

Questions for your sellers to consider:

  • What are the key relationships that you want to build in the next year for your own growth?
  • What key relationships are needed for client growth?
  • Who can you serve in your relationships? Who can you reach out to, to help them along the way and deepen relationships that you have?

4. Personal Growth

Each team member should come to the sales kickoff with their own development plan in mind.

What are their individual growth areas for the upcoming year? Can they stretch their skills? Maybe they have a growth area around building specific sales skills, or maybe they want to improve acumen around a product set or solution sets.

The sales enablement team may design a template for use across the organization where each professional can include their key goals, skills to build, and an action plan that includes accountability metrics.

5. Client Involvement

A sales kickoff that includes loyal clients can bring a much-needed perspective to your event. Ideas to leverage your best clients can include panel conversations, product demos, or solution sessions. Your sellers can learn straight from clients and how your product or service is being used in real life situations, marketplace trends, and even insights into how they make their buying decisions.

6. Innovation Opportunity

Many of the answers to your biggest questions and problems can be found within your teams. How can you use your sales kickoff to innovate new ideas or inspire problem solving? Consider designing innovation sessions that bring together cross-sections of sales teams and encourage them to work together to solve current challenges. The ideas they produce may become the next innovation implemented within a client or your organization.

7. Reinforcement

This might be the biggest question I receive from sales leaders looking to engage me for strategy, skill development, or as a keynote speaker. How do we make sure that we can continue to reinforce what was learned during sales kickoff? The answers are to plan for it in advance, assign an executive sponsor, and charge your sales leaders with coaching and accountability.

Consider a continuous learning, digital reinforcement program that includes online sales modules, videos, podcasts, and other application tools. The idea is to create a learning hub where your sales team can access resources when they need them. Combine live sales training and digital reinforcement with consistent coaching and you’ll have the major ingredients for success.

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Hire the Right Sales Kickoff Speaker

Finding the right sales kickoff keynote speaker will ensure you not only engage your sales team, but also deliver new insights and sales strategies that will help the group learn and grow.

This is where meeting planners and sales leadership need to come together. If you know the goals of your sales kickoff, it will help you determine the direction and topic for your keynote speaker.

Some important questions to consider when hiring your sales kickoff keynote speaker:

  • Are the keynote speaker’s approach, energy, and topic a fit? They should align with the organization’s brand, as well as the kickoff’s unifying theme.
  • What is the keynotes speaker’s stage presence like? Are they conversational and can they break down virtual barriers? Also, how professional is their virtual set up? You’ll want to understand their level of audience interaction. This is even more important if you will be conducting a virtual sales kickoff.
  • What is the keynote speaker’s expertise? For a sales kickoff, you want to look for speakers that are experts with a deep sales expertise. This will provide them credibility with their audience. The speaker should be able to provide tangible ideas and strategies to shift the sales team’s behavior and help them develop a strong sales mindset.
  • Can the keynote speaker extend the sales experience? For instance, can they facilitate a workshop style event for the team or meet with sales leaders in a small group session? Look for a speaker who brings new ideas to the table and offers additional ways to connect with your sales team.

For more sales kickoff tips, watch The Modern Seller’s guide to maximizing your sales kickoff experience.



Need Help Creating a High-Impact Sales Kickoff? We Can Help.

Give your sales kickoff some spark. If you’d like to strategize on improving your sales kickoff, or you’d like to hire an outside keynote speaker let’s talk. Contact us to schedule time for a discovery conversation with Amy.




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