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Sales Kick Off (SKO) is probably the one internal event with the highest probability of positively impacting the company’s financials. SKO can solidify the organization’s go-to-market efforts and motivate the sales team to meet or exceed quota in the coming year.

12 Best Practices for B2B Sales Kick Offs:

  • Clearly define and agree upon the desired outcome
  • Develop a theme to support the desired SKO outcome – not the party
  • Reverse-engineer the SKO agenda based upon the desired outcome
  • SKO content should meet the needs of all sales reps (FSRs, ISRs, CSRs) across different roles, countries and levels of experience
  • Set expectations for presenters and attendees
  • Set the presenter sup for success
  • Require participants (sales reps) to do some homework before SKO; make sure it is relevant to the SKO content and will help them achieve their goals
  • Follow the format of a presentation followed by a workshop — the goal is to transfer knowledge and not for presenters to “show up and throw up”
  • Determine the right agenda mix of celebration, provocation, motivation and education
  • Communicate how everyone will be evaluated (speakers and attendees) and publish results
  • Evolve the kickoff strategy as the team grows in size and diversity
  • Measure the effectiveness of the sales kickoff with quantitative and qualitative surveys

SKO is probably the only time during the year that the entire sales team and supporting cast are physically in the same location. Resist the argument that SKO can only be two or three days as that’s not a logical argument on its own. After reviewing the goal of SKO, determine what comprises the relevant content and how knowledge can be transferred – that is how the duration of SKO should be determined. The cost of an extra hotel night and additional food and beverage is a small fraction of the cost to pull everyone back together again.

Here’s a List of DOs for an Efficient & Effective B2B SKO:

  • Align sales kickoff content with the SKO objective (which should cascade down from a company goal)
  • The event theme should be consistent and support the company’s tagline and messaging for the year — with an internal spin
  • Set the agenda by reverse-engineering from the SKO objective. The litmus test to determine if content should be included is to ask how the transfer of knowledge can be measured.
  • Sales reps need to do homework based on their strategic account plan: customer acquisition, expansion and retention
  • Hold competitions each day based on the work the sales team will do during the daytime workshops as well as work which may extend into evening homework
  • Establish a forum and incentive for sales reps to share success stories and techniques
  • Include customers throughout SKO. It’s important to know how customers use the solution and how reps can continue to add value for customers going forward.
  • Recognize the “A” players. Everyone always knows the sales rep who achieved the highest percentage of quota, but what else should be recognized?
  • Transfer knowledge. No one can sit in a chair for eight hours and retain the information on hundreds or thousands of PowerPoint slides — not to mention the narration that goes along with each slide. The most effective way to transfer knowledge is to hear it, see it and do it.
  • Create a scatter diagram of where the attendees and presenters are located. Consider the location of major airports and direct flights and costs. Las Vegas may sound like fun but people are human and if SKO starts at 8:00 am and the goal is to transfer knowledge, then it’s a good idea to limit potential distractions.
  • Evaluate the event. Quantitative feedback is always best and is most useful when the information is captured as quickly as possible. Electronic dissemination and capture is most efficient. And, it’s important to capture feedback not only on the content, but also on each presenter and his/her presentation value to the sales rep. Also, questions should only be included if they are actionable and can be acted upon.

The fundamental question facing attendees (usually the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), Sales Operations and Sales Enablement professionals) is how to inspire, educate, motivate and celebrate the sales team in a way that impacts sales people long after the event ends. Spend enough time and effort before SKO to maximize the value of the organization’s investment in terms of people, program and opportunity costs.

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