For a lot of companies the jury is out on the effectiveness of an annual sales kick off meeting. True, these meeting can be expensive from a dollar spent and lost sales productivity perspective. However, I personally believe that they can be very beneficial as long as these four critical components are managed correctly.
Four Requirements for a Winning Sales Kick Off
Sales Achievement Recognition
Kick off meeting's are the perfect venue to recognize the prior year performance of your rainmakers. If your sales organization is large enough, consider having two tiers of top performers. One tier would be for those reps that made 100% of their plan and a second elite level for those 125% of plan or more. (President's Club and Chairman's Club).
This is also the ideal time to announce next year's elite level programs including trip destination – if you include award travel as part of your incentive plan. My business partner told me that at one of the events he attended a few years back the top sales person was awarded a custom leather briefcase with $10,000.00 in cash inside, pretty dramatic and it made a strong point!
If you have the whole sales team together it makes sense to do some type of sales training. This is especially true if you are investing in lead generation tools and processes. Lead generation processes require close collaboration between ales and marketing and a face-to-face meeting is best for expectation setting.
Another approach I like is to bring in a sales leader from another industry. It gives your team insight into issues facing other sales teams and their approaches to solving those issues. We all know strong sales leaders in non-competing companies to tap.
Marketing Strategy Including Lead Generation
The days of pure cold calling are over for most organizations. Instead, sharing your marketing and demand generation strategies with the sales team will make them feel more connected with the other efforts underway to help increase their sale effectiveness.
This approach also provides the marketing organization with first hand sales team feedback on what processes are successful and which ones may not be working well enough. This reinforces that for the processes to be effective, the sales organization plays a critical role in both rapidly responding to new leads and providing feedback on the leads that are not fully qualified.
I do not favor announcing new sales compensation programs at a kick off meeting. I know most companies do this, but sales people often have strong reactions to new compensation programs. They will spend an inordinate an amount of time thinking about them and discussing them with peers. These hallway conversations defocus them from the other key activities above and in some cases can actually sour the positive momentum you need at the start of the year.
Instead, I favor making it clear to the sales team well before the kick off that a separate compensation meeting will be held by conference call within two weeks of the kick-off meeting. This approach will ensure their undivided attention.
What sales kick off ideas do you have? Any big successes or horror stories worth sharing? We would love to hear your thoughts!