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Ensuring a Successful Sales Kick-off Meeting

Many of our clients begin each year with a conference for their sales team, in order to instill confidence, enthusiasm, and momentum towards improved results. These clients often invite our firm’s consultants to contribute, either as a featured speaker or as a training facilitator, to improve the team’s methods and skills. As a result, we’ve participated in hundreds of sales kick-off meetings, and we’ve learned some valuable lessons about what makes them a success.

Sell the Sellers: Select an Engaging Theme

Too many sales meetings are bland affairs, focused on information sharing and updates on products, marketing plans, and company operations. These can be very useful and important things for your sellers to know, but that is usually not enough of a reason to assemble the entire sales team together. If transmitting information is your only goal for the meeting, then that can be accomplished more cost-effectively via virtual web conferences.Consider the real purposes for the kick-off meeting. Is it to raise the sales team’s morale and enthusiasm? To promote teamwork and sharing of successful practices? To launch new products and capabilities? To provide an opportunity for sales team skill development? Once the meeting’s purposes have been identified and prioritized, developing a unifying theme that promotes the reasons for the meeting becomes much easier.The best theme is more than just a memorable phrase – it provides context for why they are attending. A good theme helps to filter the kind of information and experiences that the meeting will contain, or to help align how that information is transmitted. A strong theme sells the reasons for investing time in the kick-off meeting, and for applying the lessons learned in the field, long after the meeting ends.

Remember Your Audience

We’ve seen too many kick-off meetings that focus too much on the presenters, and not enough on the participants. If your meeting agenda is a parade of update presentations from various departmental and company leaders, then it is probably going to be a disappointment to the sales team. When we talk to sellers about what they want in sales kick-off meetings, they tell us they like:

Avoid an Overloaded Agenda

Use the meeting theme to filter content, and to align how that content is presented so that it has context within the agenda. We’ve seen too many kick-offs try to cram too much information into too short a period of time, or even worse, stretch the meeting out too long to accommodate everyone who wants to say something to the sales team.

Pick a Practical Venue

The best sales kick-off meetings consider where the attendees are traveling from, and are set in a location that minimizes travel time and provides a comfortable environment. A destination meeting in a resort location can be very nice, but if it is difficult and time-consuming to get there, it may not be the optimum choice. The best venues are those that fade into the background – the worst ones compete constantly for attention with hassles and problems during the event.Try to keep the main parts of the meeting to no more than a half-dozen key segments. For example, a state-of-the-company address, sales strategy and goals, equipping and enabling the sales team, key product and competitive update, sales skill training and development, and success recognition. Additional break-out sessions that support the main segments can also be useful, but if the agenda is too voluminous, the participants won’t be able to retain all the information.

With these simple guidelines in mind, your sales kick-off meeting is assured of success. A lot is at stake – a badly organized and delivered event can alienate sellers and impact productivity significantly. A well organized and high quality event can boost morale and create accelerated momentum towards success for the entire year. It’s worth a little time to plan it well.

If you’d like help in ensuring a successful sales kick-off, download this handy checklist, or call SPI at +1 (704) 227-6500 – we can provide expert speakers and facilitators on a wide variety of sales performance improvement topics.

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