Energizing your team and focusing on the goals of the year ahead have never been more important. Your sales kickoff – that annual team get-together that is equal parts goal-setting and pep-rally – remains critical and relevant in an uncertain sales climate.
There are two main reasons a sales kickoff is more important in 2024 than ever: changing buyer behavior and a tightening economy.
B2B buyers today want to research products and services on their own and prefer digital self-directed experiences. Your sales professionals must add value and take a consultative approach. This requires upskilling for many sales organizations.
At the same time, larger buying groups, slower sales cycles, and shrinking budgets mean you need more deals in the pipeline to achieve the same revenue growth.
It’s time to double down on prospecting, objection handling, and deal-nurturing skills to help your sales professionals have conversations with confidence and be as agile as possible.
That said, you must host a sales kickoff (SKO) with impact – creating that sense of enthusiasm, collaboration, and connectedness that are critical elements to success. Here are some tips you can use to reimagine your sales kickoff, while making it meaningful and relevant.
1. Leverage Technology to Expand Who and When
During the pandemic, many organizations were forced to hold fully remote or hybrid meetings. We’ve seen the pros and cons of using technology to train and collaborate. Now it’s time to rethink how to make the most of this tech, using it to your advantage to create a more interactive and focused SKO.
Hosting some of your sales kickoff virtually will allow you to include more people – even international team members – whom you haven’t been able to invite due to cost or distance considerations.
You can also invite subject matter experts (SMEs) or customers to the mix. Their perspectives offer a different, and powerful, dimension on how your sales efforts can impact decision making.
Finally, free of the constraints of a physical location, you can break up the agenda over the course of a couple of days or prepare attendees before the kickoff with intro videos, short virtual sessions, or pre-work. Adding recorded content before, during, or after live sessions will engage your sales professionals, help them absorb information at their own pace, and reinforce learning.
2. Build Energy With Your SKO Agenda
We believe that a sales kickoff should build in emotional energy – a “feel good,” positive feeling that will carry forth into the sales landscape.
Get any bad or neutral news out of the way early in the agenda, and work your way toward the good news. We recommend having any sort of brainstorming early in the process, so any topics or ideas that arise can be addressed later in the sales kickoff session.
Demonstrate that your sales leadership is listening and being proactive to the team’s interests. Also, take advantage of the “breakout room” capabilities built into Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other conferencing software, as a means of helping your sellers participate in interactive sessions where they are more likely to be heard.
Finally, don’t be afraid to think “outside the box.” Schedule multiple breaks and incorporate stretches, yoga positions, and other ways to get the blood flowing and combat zoom fatigue.
3. Prioritize What’s Most Important for Your Sales Team
When you have your team together, there’s a tendency to cram in everything you want them to know into a short timeframe. But prioritizing is important. You may decide that some information can be shared prior to the sales kickoff. Likewise, you can require some pre-work so your team comes prepared to maximize the benefits of the information shared.
To add impact to your live presentations, have some members of your sales team pre-record videos so attendees can hear success stories from their peers. It doesn’t have to have high production values. They can simply record a selfie video on their phone spotlighting a positive experience with a customer or a recent sales win.
This will help keep the energy and engagement up and highlight best practices of your top performers. People don’t want to just see PowerPoint presentations; they want to hear stories that will motivate and inspire them.
Finally, the sales kickoff is a great time to train your sales team on the skills and tools that they will be using to meet with prospects and buyers in hybrid sales scenarios.
4. Foster Teamwork and Keep Interaction High
You want people to be able to connect and have fun. Your team may meet all year long, but those calls are focused on sharing deals in progress, competitive intelligence, and customer insights. And that’s what you want during your SKO, but you also want your salespeople to emerge from your meeting feeling a sense of optimism and success.
Be creative and build in time for networking, brainstorming, and plain old fun. You can have your people wear the jersey of their favorite sports team, or perhaps a funny hat for a session. Maybe have a breakout segment where everybody shares one item from their office – something that they wouldn’t normally share, but it’s going to open up and help everyone to understand more about that individual.
You can also do quizzes. We use a tool here at The Brooks Group called Kahoot. It gives you the chance to put up questions and have interactions. People get points based on how quickly they respond and if they’re correct. You can group people into teams so you can have competitions – salespeople do love to compete.
Finally, consider sending everyone home with a really great sales kickoff gift box, or some swag – a sweater or jacket or hat; something that keeps your logo in front of people and builds camaraderie.
5. Ensure Your Sales Team Leaves With Clarity
Perhaps this is most important – don’t forget the key reason you’re hosting a sales kickoff meeting.
You want to make sure your salespeople understand what success in 2024 looks like.
If you are rolling out new numbers at your sales kickoff, make sure you also roll out how you are going to measure people this year. We recommend emailing out critical information – such as updated compensation plans – ahead of time, and then addressing this information early in the kickoff.
You want people leaving the kickoff fully committed to 2024, and everything you’ve got to execute. Whether last year was really good for your company and people are worried about how to maintain that momentum, or a really bad year, and folks are worried about how to rebound, make sure your sales professionals understand and see the numbers, strategies, and insights you will use to be successful in 2024.
Build a Successful Sales Kickoff Agenda
How are you planning your SKO?
Contact The Brooks Group for more information about our amazing lineup of world-class facilitators who can deliver inspirational keynotes and selling skills workshops for maximum impact at your SKO.
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Sales kickoff season is here. It’s time to plan your sales strategy, train your sales professionals, crank up the energy, and motivate everyone for the next year. Download this free guide that will help you plan and deliver an outstanding sales kickoff that sets your sellers up for a successful year.