[Updated for 2022 – Also see our 3 new unique sales kickoff ideas here]
I can remember back in the fourth grade when my baseball team was being slaughtered during one particular game. The score was 11- 0 and we were in the bottom of the 8th inning. Things didn’t look good for us.
But during the break before the 9th inning, our coach gathered us around and delivered a completely heartfelt and motivational speech. He reminded us of how hard we had worked all season and told us he was proud of us. And as he gave each one of us a high-five, he had this look in his eye; a look that said, “I believe in you – I KNOW you have what it takes.”
Well, myself and the rest of the team took to the field with renewed energy and a commitment to give it our all. We did end up losing that day, but the final score was 12 – 1. By God we had gotten at least one home run. We felt like winners!
Sometimes teams need to have their morale boosted so that everyone can feel reinvigorated to reach their goals. And that’s the exact reason why sales kickoff meetings exist.
What Happens During a Sales Kickoff Event?
Maybe your sales team isn’t as “Bad News Bears” as my team was back in the day, but chances are your team is often scattered geographically, at least right now, and you are relying on chats, video calls and virtual meetings.
When you gather everyone in one environment, you have a unique opportunity to build trust and collaboration and create positive energy that will carry your team for many months. In addition, you can layout the roadmap for the coming year to ensure everyone understands priorities and sales goals.
Why Plan a Yearly Sales Kickoff Event?
In our experience, executive teams can be reluctant to the idea of bringing the entire team together for a 1- or 2-day event. It is a massive undertaking and one that generally comes with a significant investment of time, money and energy.
But the truth is, when executed correctly, the benefits of SKOs definitely outweigh the expense and trouble. An effective SKO event can do the following for your sales team:
The top sales teams are always the ones that are using the latest strategies and understand your company’s main goals and objectives.
If you want to reenergize your team to get out there and achieve bigger and greater things, then it’s a good idea to celebrate their most recent accomplishments. My team went out and gave it our all because our coach had made sure to praise our efforts all year. This made us WANT to work hard to make him even more proud of us.
If you want to keep your team going, be sure to take the time to celebrate their successes!
Sales teams have a sense of tribalism to them. Getting everyone together in one room allows your team members to feed off of each other’s energy and positive emotions, motivating them to hit the ground running in the coming days, weeks and months.
Planning a Successful Sales Kickoff Event
The success of your sales kickoff event depends on the following:
Setting a Well-Defined Agenda
It’s all about creating an event that mixes just the right amount of education, inspiration and fun. You’ll want to make sure you balance high-level presentations with inspirational speeches while also allowing enough time for your team to mingle and network.
When your agenda has been completed, it should be a comprehensive roadmap that will ensure your key messaging will land, your company goals have been clearly communicated, and everyone understands how their actions contribute to the overall organizational goals.
When everyone is looking forward to attending your event, it has that much more of a chance of being a success. You’ll want to start generating buzz in the weeks prior. Communicate some of the highlights of the agenda and if you will be unveiling any new products or making any major announcements. In other words, tease the news.
But by far, the key ingredient to a successful sales kickoff event is…
Choosing the Right Theme
Choosing just the right theme for you event will do a few important things:
- Bring focus and clarity
- Ground your event with objectives
- Make your messaging memorable
Your theme should crystalize in everyone’s mind what the point of the year will be. This theme can then become a mantra of sorts, that will keep everyone focused on the tasks that matter most.
There are typically four main themes that you can choose from, and those are: Motivation, Collaboration, Information, and Celebration.
Now the biggest mistake most planners make is that instead of choosing one single theme, they choose “all of the above.” Hey, the more the merrier, right? Nope.
The truth is, if you try and do too much, you’ll only muddy your messaging and that will completely confuse your sales team members. In fact, according to the Sales Executive Council, sales reps forget up to 87% of the training content they receive just one month after their Sales Kick off.
Wow. That’s not a statistic you want your executives or product managers to see!
This doesn’t mean Sales Kickoffs are ineffective. It just means your event has to have the right amount of mojo.
So how are you going to ensure that an SKO isn’t a complete waste of time and money for your business?
The answer is surprisingly simple:
Keep Your Sales Kickoff Theme focused
The reason a sales kickoff can have a lack-luster effect on your staff is that your executives want to accomplish too much with too little.
We get it, it might be the only time of the year to bring together your entire sales staff under one roof. Motivation, Collaboration, Information, Celebration…You want it ALL.
And you’ve read our article on the Sales Conference Must-Haves, then you know there are several things you must incorporate for an effective SKO event.
But to be successful, your Sales Kickoff must have a central theme while using the other big aspects as ancillary to that central theme.
To keep it simple, have everyone from the top-down buy-in on one single theme and stick to it.
Which theme style do we prefer? As a former field sales rep, I am strongly opinionated on this.
It’s not just my opinion, but the opinion of just about every other rep you collaborate with while at the Sales Kick Off and throughout the year.
Just ask them.
It is a MOTIVATION based theme.
Motivational Themes Win
While Collaboration, Information, Celebration, and others will be a part of your Sales Kickoff, they are secondary to the overall theme of getting your sales staff excited for 2021.
After all, with a properly executed motivational Theme, the collaboration, product/service break-out sessions (informational), and the awards dinners (celebration) will be exponentially more effective.
You are amplifying the other aspects you want to accomplish by having a grander central theme: Motivation.
Informational, Collaboration, and others can be more easily accomplished throughout the year, even via webinars, team calls, or on-site QBRs.
But Motivation is what drives reps to bring in more revenue and is very challenging to accomplish unless you have absolute control of the surroundings for an extended period of time.
The Best Sales Kickoff Themes for 2022
Elevate is always a fun sales kickoff theme because it’s versatile in how it can be used.
Better. Stronger. Faster.
A theme best used for companies beyond the growth phase and looking to bring attention to their solid product/service/support lines that sales teams can be confident in.
This theme is best used for a new tool that sales can leverage. Whether that’s a product/service, comp plan, or investments elsewhere, this theme tells your staff to GO.
Had a break-out year with 1 or 2 reps blowing their number out of the park? Capitalize on that by sharing tips from those winning reps to the rest of the staff.
Ideal theme if your company had significant growth over the last year and you are re-bolstering your sales team for another record-breaking year.
Motivational themes are short, yet powerful. They send a message to your employees about what to expect for the upcoming year, and it builds anticipation for how your company will help them succeed.
In our opinion, motivational themes are the best theme style for sales staff. Salespeople do not get motivated to sell more because you will host an “informational” annual event.
However, if you do find yourself looking for other theme ideas, we recommend this article from Prezi Blog.
Need help planning your sales kickoff event for 2022? Please get in touch with us by clicking here!
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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.