Welcome to December! (Yeah, we’re really that close to 2022.)
And with the upcoming year so quickly dawning on us, it’s about that time when sales teams start to kick things into high gear. Once you put the wrapping paper away, January comes around to welcome you back to the office.
And the company strategy must be stronger than ever. So what exactly is a sales kickoff? And how can you make for a successful sales kickoff event?
We’re so glad you asked! Because it’s not just about getting honest feedback or having unexpected conversations.
It’s about how to best generate excitement. And get the competitive review your sales pros are after.
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What is a product kickoff?
If you’re not familiar with a sales kickoff, no need to fret. It is simply an annual meeting for the entire sales team to start off the new year.
A solid sales kickoff meeting will be one that motivates sales reps, sales leaders, and team members. And it’s a great place to establish company goals for the upcoming year that continue to be improved on an ongoing basis.
Yes, there is a time to share in the past year’s big wins. But more than anything, a sales kickoff meeting serves to determine a sales strategy for the year ahead.
What is a kickoff in business?
Okay, you may have heard of the term kickoff in business. And while it seems close to the term sales kickoff, it’s ever so slightly different.
A kickoff meeting is the first time the sales team will meet the client. So while a sales kickoff is meant only for team members, a kickoff meeting introduces the client or clients into the big picture.
Easy, right? Besides, if you’re in the world of business, you know that it takes baby steps to get a lot of things done well.
What makes a good sales kickoff?
We’re sure you’ve googled sales kickoff meeting ideas until your eyes went bloodshot. But we’re here to tell you what makes for a successful sales kickoff meeting altogether.
#1. A sales kickoff with solid objectives
This might seem obvious, but a sales kickoff meeting needs to have clear objectives in mind. What are you trying to get across to your sales reps?
How are you planning to motivate the sales team? And what will product training look like?
All of these questions are the right ones to be asking. And you’ll only benefit from establishing these objectives before the entire planning process.
You can pull values from the previous year and measure success that way. But it’s all about learning how to identify common knowledge gaps and implement training sessions that allow team members to sell effectively.
#2. A balanced sales kickoff agenda
If the year’s activities are like a storm, think of your sales kickoff meetings as the calm beforehand. Because that’s exactly what you’re going to want to view it as.
Whether it’s a virtual sales kickoff or in-person event, you’ll want team members to be on the same page. Sending out a sample agenda before sales kickoffs themselves helps to generate cohesion.
But more than that, your virtual event should impart key messages that you want your sales team to understand before chaos ensues. (Not that chaos is guaranteed to ensue, but you know how life likes to jumble things up.)
#3. A sales kickoff that prioritizes team building
Let’s say that the past year went a little wonky in some places. Well, then your sales kickoffs are the best place to make sure that your sales organizations’ team building is strong.
Team building activities are so much more crucial than they are given credit for. And they make the event meaningful as personal development is prioritized.
So any opportunity you get to infuse a team building activity here or there in your virtual sales kickoff is time well spent. Because you’ll want every sales strategist to be on their best sales game for the year ahead.
#4. A sales kickoff with entertainment value
If you’re not keen on having an event theme for your sales kickoff meeting, there’s really no need to fret. But that shouldn’t mean that your sales team should sit through a boring meeting with no entertainment whatsoever.
So try bringing in a virtual comedian to set your sales reps at ease. Of course, the sales kickoff event will go over the sales process, industry trends, and cost savings as well.
But getting a laugh in here and there never hurts when you’re trying to manifest a robust sales year. The stronger your team is in the office or even at the group dinner, the better your success stories will be.
#5. Solid prep work
If you’re a sales organization, then you know just how much prep goes into a live event. And it’s no different for your sales kickoff meetings!
So ask your sales teams beforehand what they want included in the agenda. That way, they’ll feel more engaged in your virtual sales kickoff since they played a part in making it happen.
Besides, having an open and transparent discussion only works when all members are invited to the conversation. So show your team members that you are making a huge investment in them to prep them for the months ahead.
#6. An inventive use of virtual technology
Don’t fall into the trap of shoving off technology for the next sales kickoff. You did that last year anyway!
Instead, use your sales kickoffs as an opportunity to showcase your technological prowess. You’ll get to infuse some healthy competition into the meeting itself.
And you’ll demonstrate that the organization is working to improve their own selling skills by keeping up with the times. So don’t be afraid to go that extra mile and wow your own sales team!
#7. A sales kickoff with an awards presentation
No new beginning can start without recognizing the past year’s accomplishments. And that’s exactly what you can do at your sales kickoff event.
Team members like to know that their efforts go noticed. So create awards to show your support and gratitude towards the sales teams’ efforts.
And you’ll find that this motivates team members to do better like nothing else. Maybe even more than a corporate entertainer! (Maybe.)
#8. Plan for after the sales kickoff as well
Of course, the decision-making process during the sales kickoff is important. But don’t fall into the trap of leaving that energy at the door!
Plan to maintain that same momentum for after your sales kickoff meeting. And ride the wave to reinforce your key messages throughout the year.
It can be as simple as offering a marketing update every so often throughout the year to keep everyone informed. And that way, the goal is always on everybody’s minds.
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How do you kick off a sales meeting?
Okay, you know what comes out of a good sales meeting. But what elements specifically should you include in them?
Start with inspirational keynote speakers
Inspiration can mean many different things. And while a rousing speech on how to get the customers more engaged in the coming year is great, that’s not quite what we had in mind.
Sometimes, the sales team needs to let off a little steam. Even before the stress of the new year starts to trickle in.
So what better way to kickoff a sales kickoff than with a virtual emcee? They’ll help you shake things up a bit.
And they’ll even get folks laughing and bonding before the stress of the new year settles in. It can seem counterintuitive to laugh and be jovial at the start of a marathon of hard work.
But sometimes, it’s the best way to get folks to loosen up and get ready for the big race. (Hypothetically, of course. Unless your office does a race at the end of each year, which sounds highly entertaining.)
Schedule breakout sessions
It takes a certain kind of person to enjoy a lecture-style meeting. And for most, a breakout session is not only a welcome reprieve.
But a chance for folks to engage with each other while expanding upon the material. You never know if new ideas about opportunity costs come out of these breakout groups.
So it always pays to give your employees a little space to digest the material you’ve presented before them. Not to mention, this is a great way to cultivate team building, too!
No, we don’t mean that you invite customers into the sales kickoff meeting. Instead, we’re talking about sharing the past year’s success stories of specific customers who stood out.
There’s nothing better than going through the previous year’s highlights to invigorate the year ahead. So get everyone to contribute a particularly positive moment from the year previous.
And identify what elements worked in those particular circumstances. You may even find some hidden benefits or tricks that helped in previous encounters with clients.
And what’s better than entering the new year with a bag of tools in your back pocket? Not to mention, customers can provide you a pretty interesting perspective when it comes to reinvigorating sales as a whole.
We’ve all had those moments where we come home from a long day’s work. And we get to celebrate a particular award we received with loved ones!
So give your employees the chance to celebrate their previous wins. But don’t feel like these awards have to be incredibly serious.
If you’ve hired a virtual comedian, you could even have them hand out awards for “Best Office Clown,” or “Best Baker in the Office.” Because let’s be honest.
There’s always that one person who brings in loads of sweets and goodies to boost everyone’s spirits. And it wouldn’t be a fantastic year without those sweet treats to get everyone through it!
Create opportunities for community
A sales kickoff meeting seems like it’s all about getting down to business. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
So try to create opportunities for networking. Get employees and leaders from different departments to step outside of their specific circles.
And make connections across the company that will prove beneficial down the road. Whether it’s virtual icebreakers or office trivia, there are plenty of ways to build community into your sales kickoff.
After all, who said a successful sales kickoff had to be a stuffy conference room meeting? Especially if you get a corporate entertainer in the room, it’ll be a source of inspiration for everybody in the office year round.
Well, we’ve managed to come quite a ways from defining what a kickoff is to implementing the best practices. So go ahead and give yourself a round of applause!
(That was an example of an award. See? It’s easy to come up with validating comments that yield immediate gratification.)
And that’s a huge part of the meeting that you want to impart to your colleagues and employees. Because the past couple of years have, no doubt, had their ups and downs.
So starting the next year on a positive note and with an energetic spirit is more important than ever. Besides, you may find that these meetings bring folks together in the most unimaginable ways.
And those connections will only help to serve you and the company year round. So go ahead, kick off the new year with a bang!
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Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular corporate entertainer, magician, and virtual speaker.