January. It’s the worst month in sales. Not only does everyone get their slate wiped clean and start the year at zero percent of their goal, but we all also have to attend the dreaded sales kick-off meeting. And, most of the time reps would rather watch paint dry than attend that meeting.
Well this year, why not make it better. Why not make your sales kick-off kick-ass?
Here’s how you, as the sales leader, can plan the absolute best one yet:
Setting the Selling Tone
Some companies have their kick-offs as a week long retreat in a warm, tropical place. Others try to minimize the amount of time their employees have to spend away from friends and family, so do a quick one-day meeting in a boring hotel near their office. Wherever the circumstances of your kick-off may be, it is vital to set the tone that this is an important working meeting.
This is your chance, as a manager, to start off the new year right. Show your positivity and enthusiasm for making a ton of cash this year, and your reps will follow suit. We all know that putting on a nice suit makes us feel richer. And smiling makes us feel a bit happier. (And using Spiro makes us more successful.) So put out the vibe that your team is successful and will close a ton of deals, and your reps will leave pumped up and ready to close big deals. A self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.
Prep Your Sales Reps
Why keep your sales reps in the dark about what will happen at kick-off? Instead, let them know ahead of time what the schedule for the meeting looks like. Are you spending an entire day on new features of your product? If so, maybe give them a quick research assignment so they have something to add, or at least a reason to stay attentive. If your salespeople know what is on the agenda, they can have the time to be prepared with some relevant questions.
Another suggest is to get your reps involved in the actual presentation. Peer to peer training can help by letting reps hear success stories and tips from someone on their level. Ask someone on your team to prepare a “sales’ rep’s perspective” portion of the meeting. This keeps them engaged and prevents the management from just being a bunch of talking heads.
Redefine Sales Goals
Your company’s leaders get together ahead of the kick-off to set the goal for the year. That monetary amount, and perhaps some other directives as well, is communicated to all at kick-off. But don’t stop goal setting there.
Set some smaller benchmarks and non-monetary goals for your team and discuss these at kick-off too. A large year-end number hanging over a reps head in January can be overwhelming and hard to digest. Breaking this goal down, or adding more out of the box goals, helps keep kick-off kick-ass.
Give Your Reps a Voice
Going into a new sales year can be daunting. Don’t make the meeting into a monologue. Encourage your reps to speak up, and to voice any questions or concerns they may have for the year. Make yourself approachable. The more your reps feel comfortable voicing their concerns, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Take this time to build relationships. You’ll be glad you did.
Encourage Internal Networking
After a long day of meetings and company goal reviewing, your sales team may be tempted to take a break from coworkers and hide away in their hotel room. But please strongly discourage this behavior. Reinforce to your reps that their internal network is just as important as their external one.
Tell them this story: I once got unheard of access to the VIPS at John Hancock Insurance, a client I’d always dreamed about landing, because someone I never would have thought of asking inside my company had an Uncle in the C-suite! I would have never run into this coworker in my normal day to day office life, but at kick-off you never know what connections you may make.
Happy New Year!
Sales kickoff meetings are a time to consider what worked in the past, learn what you have to work with in the present, and define what your vision will be for the future. Help shape your sales kick-off into a kick-ass one by making the most of the meeting and getting your reps excited for a great year ahead!
Your kick-off sets the tone for the entire year, so make it count! But, make sure that the work doesn’t end there. Once your kick-ass sales kickoff is over, it’s up to you to keep the momentum going throughout the entire year.