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How to expertly ramp up your team with a great 2019 sales kickoff meeting

5 min readDecember 13, 2018

Yesterday, we wrote about why sales kickoff meetings are better now than they were just 10 years ago. Today, we are covering some practical, concrete suggestions you can take to make your sales kickoff fantastic in 2019.

Sales kickoff meetings can be expensive. A typical event is a costly company investment averaging $1K – $2K per rep. This is especially true if many team members are remote, or the event location is offsite, hosted in a location where everyone needs to travel.

In addition to travel-related costs, companies find themselves covering food, lodging, venue fees, and trainer costs. All of this does not take into consideration the opportunity cost of of taking the team out of the field or away from the phones for the event.

These costs should be viewed as an investment. The returns can be well worth it to gather your entire sales team for recognition while preparing and motivating them for the coming year. As we talked about previously, it should focus on skill improvement. This will leave your reps feeling inspired, confident, valued and ready to engage with leads and close sales.

Since the buyer’s journey continues to evolve, expectations are higher and sellers are being engaged further down the funnel. The SKO is a great time to refresh your team’s knowledge and skills to keep pace in the ever-changing marketplace.

This is great in theory, but in practice, how do you go about ensuring that your efforts pay off? What are the actual steps and planning measures that you can take to make sure the massive investment pays off? Consider these factors to get the best return on your SKO investment:

Set specific goals

Don’t just throw together a group of random trainings or cover the same topics and information you’ve discussed during past SKO’s. This is like doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. That’s the definition of insanity! Know what you want to accomplish and establish clearly defined goals so you provide a more purposeful and cohesive experience for your reps.

Plan on having 3 big ideas as goals that you share throughout the planning process, and bring up every day with the team at the event.

Involve top sales and marketing leaders in the goal-setting process. Their perspective is important. Determine what your sales team needs by reviewing metrics from the previous 12 months. This will uncover weakness that could prevent them from hitting their goals in the coming year. And poll your sales reps to garner their input. They’re more likely to be enthusiastic and engaged if their needs and interests are taken into consideration.

There are a couple of additional considerations before creating an agenda and content for your SKO event. Are there any organizational changes or new technology rollouts on the horizon? If so, determine what needs these create for the sales team and incorporate them in your goal setting.

Once you have your goals, you need to know what success looks like and which sales metrics you’ll track to measure it. Then you’ll be ready to plan content and activities accordingly.

Write a focused agenda

Start a spreadsheet, break it out by half hour segments, and plan the entire sales kickoff agenda with specific time slots for each item, speaker schedules, and breaks. This is better than a loose agenda of things you want to cover each day because you can make sure every activity is prioritized by time spent based on how it aligns with the goals of the event.

Don’t overwhelm your reps with a wide assortment of topics. But if you have a very diverse salesforce, consider having breakout sessions for different skill levels or needs. This will make your agenda more complicated, but it ensures that everyone’s needs are being addressed and keeps your team members engaged.

Include a couple of sessions focused on the selected topic(s). And don’t forget to include engaging activities, role plays, case studies and lots of examples from reps who’ve mastered featured skills. Doing so recognizes these reps by involving them in the SKO as they provide peer-to-peer training to the entire team.

To strengthen empathetic selling skills, you might video conference in a few customers to speak about their experience during the sales process and what they liked or disliked. If your team will start selling to a new industry in the upcoming year, have prospects conferenced in to talk about their challenges and what type of solutions they’re seeking.

If possible, have your sales kickoff meeting at home

If you want your team to truly focus, skip the fancy destination and hold your kickoff at headquarters. Doing so reduces venue-related distractions and sends a very different message.

Travelling to an exotic location often feels more like a vacation than a training and motivational event. Holding your SKO at headquarters doesn’t mean there can’t be any fun. It reminds participants that this is a business event with some fun as opposed to a party with a work element. Plus, less travelers equals lower travel and venue expenditures.

Schedule sales coaching

Your typical SKO will incorporate training of some sort. However, research indicates that training participants forget almost 90% of what they learn within a week. Sales coaching can address this, because it means mixing group training with 1:1 sessions, weekly meetings, and long-term follow through on skill development.

The sales kickoff is a chance to accelerate your current coaching efforts, or start a formal sales coaching program. Add segments to your agenda for 1:1 time between supervisors and salespeople. If the staff is too large for this type of attention, implement peer to peer sales coaching and have salespeople work with their colleagues in role plays, call reviews, and tactical discussions.

It’s worth it

A sales kickoff meeting is a costly investment in your salesforce. Careful planning makes it possible to create the desired end result. Take the time to set goals based on your organization, any upcoming changes, and the needs and interests of your sales team. The resulting agenda will inspire your sales team while preparing them to hit their numbers.

Following through with coaching, reinforcement and measurement will increase the return on your SKO investment. Do you have your sales kickoff meeting goals set yet?