Take it from a sales guy: your Sales Conference has a dramatic impact on your revenue outcome for the upcoming year.
If you’ve read our article on best sales kickoff themes, you know that sales reps forget up to 87% of the training content they receive just 1 month after the event!
Implement the critical elements below to ensure maximum retention and increased sales growth.
12 Must-Haves for Every Sales Conference
- The Sales Conference is Your Catalyst for Growth
- Sales Conference Must-haves
- Choose a motivational sales theme.
- Nice Venue
- Interesting Destination
- Destination-inspired Activities
- Recap Past Success
- Mobile App
- Announce Bonus Programs BEFORE Break-out Sessions
- Announce President’s Club Winners During the Ceremony Dinner
- Include 1-2 Mandatory Break-out Sessions
- Limit the Event to 2-3 Days Total
- Announce the Next Incentive Trip at the End
- The Wrap
The Sales Conference is Your Catalyst for Growth
The Sales Conference (aka Sales Kick-Off or Sales Meeting) is the quintessential event for delivering education, motivation, and collaboration.
If you think that sales folks are only driven by money, or the desire to sell your amazing product or service, you may have an incomplete perspective.
Sales professionals, while usually more autonomous and performance-driven (commission-based, and solely responsible for their quota) than other staff, are highly dependent on messaging and motivation coming from the top-down
Your business’ Kool-aide is the education, motivation, and collaboration that you and your stakeholders’ are responsible for delivering, so soak them in it!
A Sales job is a bit unique in that usually, half or more, their income is highly dependent on performance.
Imagine you are a field salesperson for your company, usually carrying one of the higher quotas for your company: You likely don’t see much if any corporate staff, culture or camaraderie on a weekly or even monthly basis, but you show up at SKO and any of the following are present:
Poor or cheap destination, hotel, or activities
- Terrible theme
No new product or service for the staff to sell. It spells that the company isn’t focused on R&D and growing the company.
No new incentives or bonus structure to motivate the sales staff
Lackluster executive presentations that have no enthusiasm
Confusion around meetings or break-out session times/places, because they weren’t communicated correctly
Meetings or break-out sessions aren’t interactive
No registration website to highlight the fun or inspirational aspects of this event
Any of these could derive a negative resentment for your company.
It would make you question if you should be looking at the competitors that have been trying to recruit you since last May.
Look Past the Expense, and at the ROI
Your salespeople talk, much more so than you think.
If your event is disastrous and you have all of the Sales together for a few days, what do you think they’ll talk about?
A negatively run event will plant a seed that will grow throughout the week, leaving your entire fiscal year up in the air.
So instead of producing an event that was supposed to generate revenue, and increase ROI, your Business spent money on an event that will actually lower revenue.
It could be one of the worst investments you’ll make this year.
Sales Conference Must-haves
Choose a motivational sales theme.
A well thought out and incorporated theme for your sales conference will tie everything together. It can literally make the difference between an ‘A’ and a ‘D’.
I spent one January sales kick off in Atlantic City in January, at a smoky Harrah casino that cost $40/night per room.
Oh, and to make it worse?
No, it wasn’t that there was a “Bomb Cyclone” that brought unnaturally freezing temperatures, it was that our company policy was to share a room.
Yes, that’s right.
Adults required to share rooms unless you spent $$ on your own. Guess what every salesperson spoke of during SKO, and after to customers, partners, friends, and family…
On the flip side, one of the best Sales Conferences I have been to was by that same company who sent us to Orlando the very next year and we stayed at a NICE Disney Property.
Alas, we still had to share a room unless we coughed up the extra $$ to have our own.
Still, the atmosphere, activities, and weather were tremendously better. Everyone was in a good mood going into Sales Kick-Off.
It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway.
Your field sales reps may not see each other, or their manager very often. So use this trip to ignite camaraderie.
Perhaps even include a team-building event.
Hopefully, you are choosing a destination that has some flavor to it and not just a big metro hub that was convenient because half of your employees happen to work there.
Even if this is the case, there are several cities that you could incorporate some local-inspired activities! Use them to treat your employees to something new and entertaining.
Recap Past Success
Another no-brainer here.
This isn’t necessarily for your President Club winners, this would be to kick off the Sales Kick-Off, perhaps by your CEO or head of Sales. Give a recap of the high points.
Even if revenue and/or profit went down, point out where you did grow, or any big wins. (Start off on a good note!)
Because sales guys are on the road, their native language is mobile. This tool will ensure they can be pushed notifications on when/where to be.
Announce Bonus Programs BEFORE Break-out Sessions
It’s hard for anyone to sit in education meetings for hours on end, so beforehand, give them a reason to listen up!
Announce President’s Club Winners During the Ceremony Dinner
What’s cooler than having the high-performers go on stage, collect an award, recognition and hopefully a Presidents Club spot?
The rest of your sales staff will naturally become envious!
Include 1-2 Mandatory Break-out Sessions
Keep all Break-out sessions informational, but let them choose the remaining break-out sessions based on their preference.
Maybe they feel behind on a particular product or service you offer.
Or maybe they are extremely passionate about something else and want to learn more!
Limit the Event to 2-3 Days Total
This applies to Sales folks only.
If technical or managerial staff is involved, they might be extended for additional training. However, once you have consolidated training, motivation, recognition, and collaboration in this short period, get them back out in the field!
Announce the Next Incentive Trip at the End
This is the precipice of your Event.
If the Sales Conference has gone well, the Sales Staff is motivated, educated and had plenty of time to meet and greet with colleagues.
Leave them with a final message during the departure: Announce the ultimate trophy for busting their quota this upcoming year with an exotic destination for Presidents Club.
If you’ve read our Presidents Club 101 article, you hopefully have your hotel contract signed at this point. If so, show a picture of the amazing hotel.
Everyone will leave your Sales Conference jazzed up and talking about the destination.
Hell, you can even hand out some type of collateral at the end with a picture of the destination that they can pin up on their computer to keep them motivated.
Your Sales Kick-off is one of the most important events you’ll plan this year.
Get it right, and revenue numbers will rise.
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Jeremy Sweat is the Sales and Marketing Director at J.Shay Event Solutions. When he’s not working, he enjoys traveling with his wife, scuba diving, and triathlon training.