How to Design an Effective Sales Kickoff

How to Design an Effective Sales Kickoff
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Design an Effective Sales Kickoff Meeting that Sales People Want

Do you know how to design an effective sales kickoff?  What would make your sales kickoff high performing?  Unfortunately, not enough people know how to design an effective sales kickoff — one that you and your sales team find valuable and worth their time.

From our perspective, an effective sales kickoff helps sales managers, leaders, and their teams to better execute their go-to-market sales strategy in order to improve revenues, margins, win rates, portfolio mixes, deal sizes, sales cycles, and/or customer satisfaction.

Six Tips on How to Design an Effective Sales Kickoff
If you’re serious about helping your sales team be more successful as a result of your sales kickoff, here are six tips on how to design an effective kickoff for your sales team:

  1. Be Clear About the Desired Outcomes
    Getting the entire sales force together is a big investment of time and money. You’d be surprised how often logistics drive sales kickoff design versus the desired business and people outcomes.  If you want to design an effective sales kickoff, start by clearly defining the two or three outcomes that matter most.

    Once you identify how success of the sales kickoff will be measured, you can then design a plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

    — Do you need to create strategic sales clarity?
    — Do you need to shift your sales culture?
    — Do you need to introduce new products or solutions?
    — Do you need to reward people differently?
    — Do you need to teach new sales skills, sales methodologies, sales processes, or sales systems?

    You get the point.  To design an effective sales kickoff, you must start with the end in mind.

  2. Be Clear About Where Things Stand
    Invest the time to understand what is holding your sales team back from firing on all cylinders. Is your solution selling strategy clear enough?  Is your sales culture aligned with your strategy?

    Do you have the right talent to execute your sales plan?  Talent gaps could be caused by anything from their attitude, their activity level, their aptitude, or their cultural fit.  Focus on the critical few areas that would have the greatest impact on achieving your desired outcomes.

  3. Actively Involve Key Stakeholders Early and Often
    Once you are clear about the desired outcomes and the current situation, your next step is to actively involve key stakeholders in the design of your sales kickoff. Key stakeholders have influence over or a vested interest in the success or failure of your sales kickoff.

    Recent research by Bain found that the active engagement of stakeholders during the strategy design phase has the highest correlation to strategies being successfully implemented.  We know that the same is true with sales kickoffs.  Are enough of the right people involved in the design of your sales kickoff?

  4. Utilize Experts
    Don’t waste your time or money on internal or external resources without a track record for results, without proven sales AND instructional design expertise, without the commitment to understand and incorporate your unique needs, and without a plan for reinforcement and follow-up.

    Avoid delegating your sales kickoff to an assistant or a busy sales rep who will fill the agenda with ineffective business sales training, expensive speakers, or touchy-feely teambuilding activities not tied to explicit business priorities. Invest the time and resources to get your sales kickoff right.

  5. Plan for Experiential Learning
    Regardless of the desired outcomes, the more relevant and interactive the session, the greater the chances for learning, behavior change, and performance improvement. Plan on multiple opportunities for the sales team to practice “on their feet” in different real-world sales scenarios.  And include time for on-the-spot reflection and feedback.  As with any new skill, it’s practice and coaching that promotes improvement.
  6. Provide Sales Coaching
    To ensure that the sales kickoff has some real legs and is not a one-time event, ensure that you have trained sales coaches ready to reinforce the desired outcomes on-the-job. Sales reps, just like anyone else, need to be held accountable and encouraged to practice what they learned as they meet with prospects and customers.

    Sales coaches should help with pre-call planning, shadow reps on calls, debrief the calls, and give constructive feedback to move deals forward in a way that makes sense.

The Bottom Line
Sure, a sales kickoff should review past performance, clarify targets and rewards, highlight new offerings, build relationships, and motivate the team.  But the core focus of any sales kickoff should be to create higher levels of sales performance.  Do your sales kickoffs set your sales team up for success?

To learn more about how to create higher levels of sales performance, download The 6 Top Reasons Business Sales Training Initiatives Fail

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