2023 is here. As a business what’s your plan? Sales kickoffs are a proven way to, well, kick off your sales with a bang, organization-wide,. Sales Kickoffs are also called Sales Summits or Sales Conferences. A Sales Kickoff is an annually held, premier, must-attend, organizational event; even the CEO and his executive team are present. As you plan your Sales kickoff 2023 here are things you should consider.
What makes good sales kick-off?
First off, a conference is a gathering of people who share a common purpose. Conferences abound for institutions with a large reach and whose members are far flung. Spiritual, for- profit and not-for-profit institutions look forward to these conferences. Some are local, others are international. Held within a semi-formal setting, the mood of the conference is usually energetic, welcoming, and solution-oriented. Sales kick-offs are designed to be an equally rewarding experience; it is unfortunate when this is not achieved. The event is intended to align the institution’s entire Sales function to operate with less friction. And to motivate the customer facing sales people.
What is a sales kick-off in business?
But why have a sales kick-off? The primary purpose is to align the company’s strategy to its sales strategy. Another reason is to learn from and avoid past (previous year) mistakes. For instance, as a client once shared. “Marketing did a campaign without informing Sales and Production. The result was so embarrassing and irritating. You see, that lack of communication resulted in a wildly successful marketing campaign that also flopped spectacularly. Why? Sales people were caught unawares and with egg on their face when shopkeepers somewhere in bundus angrily insisted on the free sachet promised. Worse still, the factory, unaware of the campaign, had not produced the extra sachet! It was an expensive mistake.”
Yet another objective of a Sales Kickoff is to break barriers and accelerate cross functional synergies. And this is important. It makes a sales-process-smoothing-difference when the Coast Region sales person in Malindi gets to put a face to a name. He gets an invaluable face to face meeting with the accountant in Nairobi who’s been frustrating the Lamu-based distributor’s account based solely on performance. Now in Nairobi to attend the Kickoff, they meet and agree what business case can resolve the issue. And no, a formal email or telephone conversion with a stranger (which the colleague his never met with, is) doesn’t quite cut it. Further, for companies with sales persons spread across the country or continent Sales Kickoffs are an ideal time to connect. In fact, depending on the nature of the organization, some sales staff members get to meet once every year at the conference.
What makes an effective sales kick-off 2023 agenda?
Now then. Institutions inexperienced in putting together a sales summit or facilitating one end up converting it into a sales or staff meeting, and it flops. One we were called in to salvage after it had ended up being cancelled, had converted into a shouting match with insults being hurled across departments. I promise you, you don’t wat this in your Sales Kickoff 2023 or ever. Such failure poisons workplace synergies, that year’s conference and subsequent kick-offs too; the debilitating attitude of, “Why bother attending? It’s of no use,” or, “Let’s just go because we must,” creeps in.
In sales meetings, the effective sales manager may give his team a tongue lashing on poor performance, talk about fictitious sales reports and even point out select team members he is not happy with. The sales meeting is operational, day to day. If it were a football match, the sales meeting would be what the coach imparts in his team in the locker rooms during half-time. A staff meeting is equally tactical and matters personnel are the point of discussion. Such issues should not be included in a sales kick-off agenda if it is to be effective. Equally besides the opening speech, usually by the Head of Sales, speeches are not encouraged in effective Sales Kick-offs.
Defeatist Sales Kick-off 2023 agenda
Sales kick-offs are comparatively strategic in nature. Making the tongue lashing, staff leave days and keeping the lights on in the office the main thrust of the sales conference serves to only waste an invaluable opportunity. Besides bonding, sales summits aim at studying the past sales cycle (past financial year) with a view to improving the next. Yet another objective of a sales conference is to share best practice. Consider this in your Sales Kickoff 2023 planning if you’ve not been having it.
For example, in a sales kick-off we helped put together this happened. Let’s call it, Product Kahawa was thriving in the Western region but poorly in Central. This, despite all the marketing efforts put in by the client organization. At the conference the salesperson in the Western Region explained, “I thrive on experiential selling. I brew and serve Kahawa at funerals, which are a big thing in my area, for free.” Talk of targeting your marketing budget. Anyway, the salesperson from Central adopted this idea and adapted it to his area with spectacular results. “I served farmers in the cold of 4am at cattle dips.” Exchange of best practice may trigger an idea or offer an alternative. It could also be an opportunity for the entire organization to interrogate its current marketing or sales strategy, and spend.
What to do at a sales kick-off
Naturally, keeping the discussions focused on the theme and energized over the two or three days the conference lasts, requires a skilled facilitator. Some organizations seek an external one, others do it internally. Irrespective, the facilitator plays a pivotal role to the success of the conference. However, from experience, external facilitation trumps internal; you benefit from thought provoking ideas, insights and best industry practice. More importantly external facilitation keeps the discussion away from deteriorating to how toilet paper runs out in the security guards office. If you’ve struggled with internal facilitation, consider external facilitation with your sales kickoff 2023
The importance of sales kick-offs
Organizations inured in sales conferences, send out invitations from the CEOs office directly to all invitees. Usually the sales people and select heads critical to the Sales function. The CEO attends the conferences usually on the last day so as to take away with him for decision making, strategic aspects impeding sales performance. In his presentation, he gives a report of say, the company’s strategy or financial position. Attendance of Sales Kickoffs is mandatory. Even if one is on leave. Sales kick-offs are that important.
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