Elay Cohen is the CEO of SaleHood and author of the book Enablement Mastery. Elay is on a mission to develop high-performing sales teams.
A sales kickoff event is meant to inspire, align and motivate your teams to achieve greatness in their pursuit. A well-designed kick-off experience can be the catalyst of change an organization needs to think bigger and achieve big sales goals.
Kickoffs have evolved from sales team events to revenue team events and even all corporate events. Some call Kickoff Revenue Kickoffs (RKO), Go-to-Market Kickoffs (GKO), or Company Kickoffs (CKO). Whatever you call it, this is an important event that needs careful planning; For example, I recommend creating a 30 or 60 day kickoff experience rather than trying to cram all of your content and training into the two to three days of the main event.
Whether you plan to host an in-person or virtual event, here are some key components to include in your sales kickoff.
1. Create an attractive theme.
Develop a theme for your kickoff experience that is motivating, prioritized and culture-shaping; this is the key to realizing the benefits of the huge investment you are about to make. A motivational theme is one that drives your teams to do the best work of their lives and take action to achieve business results. Being prioritized is meant to ensure that a theme aligns with your company’s top business priorities, and each event should serve to reinforce your company’s positive culture. Finally, make sure your theme is inclusive so that everyone feels welcome and valued, regardless of role, geography, gender, or race. A well-thought-out theme will take your kick-off energy way beyond the actual event.
2. Develop a before, during and after kick-off program.
To maximize your team’s engagement and education, create a kickoff experience that consists of three distinct parts: before, during, and after.
Use prework before the actual kickoff event (be it in-person or virtual) to get your teams aligned and excited for what’s to come. Preliminary work can include exercises such as pitch exercises, win stories, and product knowledge checks. Use the stage during the event to inspire and motivate; For example, consider bringing in motivational speakers and engaging your teams in activities that can only be done in person or in groups. Finally, use the post-event experience to train and certify your teams.
3. Prepare your speakers.
Many organizations do not invest the time to really prepare their speakers. Create a kick-off vision letter that includes your company’s vision statement, values, and expected outcomes from kick-off. Inform your speakers about the theme and show them how to integrate it into their lectures and workshops. By having all your speakers reinforce the chosen themes, you create more alignment and reinforcement in the hearts and minds of your teams.
4. Promote meaningful networking with your attendees.
Group work is a great opportunity to bring teams together to collaborate and learn from each other. Too often, kickoff exercises fail to consider the who, what, and why of networking.
Be mindful of who will be networking with you. For example, if your goal is to break down silos and promote collaboration between teams, conduct group exercises that support this goal. The types of exercises you ask your teams to do are also great ways to reinforce messages and priorities. Let your team practice their pitch or split their pitch into small groups when they meet in person. Getting teams talking and exchanging ideas about their pitch, stories or winning plays is a great way to learn by doing.
5. Keep your visitors engaged.
Here are some general rules to follow at every kickoff to keep everyone involved: Play fun, upbeat music. Play videos to change the energy of a room. Also, don’t let presenters talk for too long without people doing something active, such as getting up or doing an exercise. If thirty minutes pass and your visitors haven’t done anything engaging, they’re probably starting to get distracted. Work both formal and informal engagement exercises into your program.
6. Measure engagement at the start and correlate with performance data.
The power of creating a kickoff experience that follows the “pre, during and post” framework is that you are able to collect data and insights. Doing some basic testing or capturing video stories as preliminary work will give you completion and engagement to measure across your teams. You can correlate this data with performance data, giving managers insight into employees for effective coaching.
Likewise, post-work training and certification data will provide reinforcement learning, along with ways to measure the effectiveness of your kickoff experience. The proven pre, during and post kickoff framework can take your experience to the next level through better engagement, meaningful reinforcement and metrics to measure impact.
Designing the perfect kickoff experience can be overwhelming. Don’t forget to put yourself in the shoes of your kickoff attendees when planning the entire experience. Ask yourself how this event, and each session before, during, and after your kick-off, is helping you do your job better. If you find that answer and follow this framework, your sales kickoff should be a great success for your business.
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.