Are you thinking about your next corporate sales kickoff event? Are you feeling a bit behind in planning? Are you considering just doing the same thing you did for your last meeting? If you answered yes to these questions, now might be time to shake things up. So what are the strategies for planning a successful sales kickoff event?
Planning an event that delivers both the necessary information to your sales team and allows them to enjoy the meeting takes time and preparation. Whether it’s your first time planning a sales kickoff or your 20th, periodically looking at and re-evaluating your planning process can help ensure your event engages your team while maximizing the value of your content.
Here are some planning strategies to help create a successful sales kickoff:
1. Plan a “customer-like” event for your employees.
Plan your sales meeting for your employees the same way you plan an event for your customers. Your employees are your first customer. They have to believe in your company, your brand, and your offering before anyone else can. Treating them like customers will generate excitement and buzz around your sales meeting. A memorable experience will drive greater retention of information and will keep your sales team looking forward to the annual sales meeting year after year.
Consider the following:
- What are your sales team’s needs and challenges? Identifying these will allow you to maximize the value of your content.
- What are your sales team’s expectations and how can you surpass them? Identifying these will allow you to enhance the experiential qualities of your meeting.
2. Create content that addresses your sales team’s needs and challenges AND can be repurposed for future use, i.e. sales tools, social media, etc.
Consider the following types of content:
- Team-Driven Content: You know you have specific points you want to cover at your sales meetings like forecasts for next year, quota information, sales growth information, and more, but have you also asked your salespeople what they want to talk about?
o Execute a quick survey in the months before your sales meeting asking your employees what they’d like to discuss. Implore questions they have, areas of focus, areas to dive deeper, areas of training, and challenges and successes from the past year. Their responses will give you a good overview of where the team collectively stands on various issues within your organization and ensures the content is relevant and valuable for their needs.
- Educational Content: Consider providing content tailored to your sales team that provides education and training around relevant topics.
o If your sales team covers one specific product or service, keep content tailored to that offering.
o If your sales team covers multiple or disparate areas, consider organizing your meeting into tracks and creating breakout sessions that allow for meaningful deep dives into specific topics.
- Inspirational Content: Bring in outside speakers to talk about concepts that will work to drive inspiration and excitement within your team.
o Much of your meeting will be focused on topics of financial details and goal setting, so provide your sales team with an opportunity to take a step back and think about higher level, more abstract topics like leadership, empowerment, or perseverance from someone outside your organization.
- Attendee Provided Content: Give your attendees a voice in the program and content shared. This can be achieved by sharing the theme or key messages and having team members provide video clips, sales success stories or other moments to give your team members a contributing role. These pieces can be used as video interstitials, shared around the venue on display monitors or in break out rooms as walk-in content.
3. Recognize Your Team.
To generate excitement into the next year’s sales agenda, your team needs to feel valued for all their hard work.
Consider the following: Create an awards ceremony that your employees can count on by replicating the same award types every year, so your employees know what to expect. Raise the bar on this experience by having each person being recognized be introduced and celebrated by a mentor, leader or teammate.
o This ceremony will also embrace and leverage your sales team’s competitive spirit by showing them who leads the pack and what they should strive to accomplish for the following year.
o Don’t let this part of your meeting be planned at the last minute. Put real thought into the types of awards you will present, how you will present them, and how you will recognize your individual employees for their successes.
Seeing how much effort you put into valuing your employees will allow them to reinvest their effort into your company.
4. Use your sales team’s expectations for the meeting to drive the format.
Consider the following:
- Keep your meeting face-to-face. Keep your salespeople engaged and connected by keeping your meeting face-to-face.
o If you’re thinking of cutting costs by making your sales meeting an online event – don’t.
- 78% of in-person attendees prefer to network with other in-person attendees.
- 85% of leadership (senior managers, executives, and board members) believe in-person events are essential to their company’s success.
- 95% of marketers believe in-person events have a significant impact on achieving primary business goals.
- 61% of marketers believe that in-person events are the most critical marketing channel – a 20% increase from the previous year.
- 78% of event marketers believe in-person events will become increasingly important to their company’s success.
5. Reconsider your format.
Is your annual sales meeting made up primarily of PowerPoint presentations? Is your C-Suite up on stage, talking to your salespeople about forecasts and goals?
- 91% of people admitted to daydreaming during meetings. Try to find ways to combat this staggering statistic by engaging your salespeople in new ways.
- Think of different formats to supplement those presentations that engage your employees beyond the typical sales meeting presentations. Consider “Not” speaking from a stage to your audience, but rather presenting from floor level and walk the space, talking directly to/with your attendees. This turns your presentation into a conversation.
- Consider inspiring keynote-type speakers and roundtable events where employees can connect with one another, panel discussions where they can hear from a breadth of speakers, and training sessions where they can learn about new relevant topics.
6. Shift your location.
- Move your event outside of the traditional hotel ballroom setting, or if you can’t get out of the ballroom, think about getting out of the room for at least part of the meeting. Don’t just keep people sitting in chairs all day.
- Consider planning moments for networking, team-building activities, and other exercises that enable people to connect with each other in new, innovative ways.
These types of non-traditional, unique experiences will keep your meeting feeling fresh and lively year after year.
7. Create an opportunity for deep brand immersion.
Make your company feel like an exclusive community and your sales meeting feel like an exclusive event by allowing your employees to feel proud to be part of your organization.
- Brand all elements of your meeting, from presentations to breakout room spaces and everything in between to generate excitement about all that your company is and all it has to offer.
8. Get creative.
Even if you do still need to employ the occasional PowerPoint presentation to get your information across, enhance them with dynamic content to keep your employees engaged.
- Create powerful opening videos, highlight reels, and interactive polls to keep your audience from tuning out and checking out.
With careful planning and engagement and the right partners, your sales kickoff event can be motivating, informative and productive!
Your Events Matter, Make them Memorable!
Learn about how we’ve helped to plan and execute successful sales kickoff events for other clients. Check out our Insperity case study where you’ll hear from our client about how we’ve partnered with them to execute successful sales meetings over the last 6 years.
At OVATION: We create and execute sharable experiences that exceed your client’s expectations while staying on budget. We pair a robust combination of internal services you might expect from a big box company with the boutique attention and flexibility that you require. Scalability is our specialty. Don’t settle for less… expect more.
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