As you approach sales kickoff time, you’re probably putting all the final touches in place to ensure another great event — you’re finalising ideas for the theme and content, checking you have the right entertainment organised and making sure you have the speakers booked. After all, the sales kickoff meeting sets the tone for the year ahead.
But while many salespeople will be looking forward to the annual get-together, there will be many more who dislike taking time away from the office and their families for the sake of what they perceive to be long days in rooms with no windows, watching the same people win accolades that they can’t ever seem to attain.
Publicly acknowledging an organisation’s top sellers is a common element of most sales kickoff meetings, but it can leave your hard-working mid-range salespeople feeling despondent. After all, they’re putting in just as many hours as those salespeople up on stage, but they’re not being invited to President’s Club.
Of course, training is key to helping those mid-range sellers “level up”, but you can’t expect to achieve a total transformation in a one or two-day sales kickoff meeting. Instead, consider your sales kickoff meeting as an opportunity to get them off to the right start, using these three motivational sales meeting ideas.
1) Find a Theme That Is Constructive
There are plenty of sales kickoff themes that are essentially meaningless. For all the heart-pumping appeal of a Daft Punk song they possess, vague sentiments like “Better. Stronger. Faster” are unlikely to provide much motivation for your mid-range salespeople.
It’s easy to get carried away with coloured balloons and fun goody bags, but it’s important to remember not to choose a theme just because you need a slogan for this year’s T-shirt. Themes enable you to weave all the events, training and content of your sales kickoff meeting into a cohesive narrative. Narratives help us engage with materials, meaning we are better able to recall those materials over a long period.
We know about using storytelling techniques for sales and ensuring our customers can see themselves in the stories we tell. In the case of the sales kickoff, you have to think of the salespeople as your customers and make sure that they can see themselves in the narrative you’ve created.
If you’re focused on a “superhero” salesperson, make sure it’s clear to your mid-range sellers exactly how they can become that person — otherwise, you risk further disengagement.
2) Use Your Top Sellers to Motivate Your Mid-Range Salespeople
Typically, a sales kickoff meeting will include at least one networking opportunity per day, which might be dinner, golf or some other “non-work” event.
Before the meeting begins, make it clear to your top performers that you expect them to use these opportunities to meet and talk to the “up and comers”. They don’t need to share their worldly wisdom there and then, but relationships forged at the sales kickoff can pay dividends in mentorships throughout the year.
If you don’t trust that this will happen naturally, make it happen. For example, you could create a table plan for dinner that puts possible pairings together. You could even hold a special event exclusively for salespeople who show a lot of potential, hosted by the top sellers, with the intention of pairing up mentors and mentees.
Sales coaching is a proven means of improving sales performance, and who better to coach your sales team than those already excelling at their job?
3) Ditch the Slide Shows for Panel Discussions
If you have access to a motivational speaker who will take the time to create something that really speaks to your business — great. If not, consider replacing their slot with a really juicy panel discussion — or a couple, if you can.
Watching one person on a stage can make the audience passive. If it’s a great speaker, we might get fired up for a moment, but the great ones are few and far between. Watching an interactive discussion is far more engaging. It encourages us to consider our own responses to the questions on the table.
A panel discussion that accepts questions from the audience is even better.
Who could your panel include? Consider the following:
- Top sellers — sharing what works for them, best practices, success stories, etc.
- C-suite executives — discussing brand vision, appraising the year that’s passed and looking to the future.
- Happy customers — talking about why your company has been important to their success, providing insight as to what was helpful to them throughout their buying process, etc.
- A formerly unhappy customer — wouldn’t it be interesting to hear from someone who could talk about what went wrong and how it was put right?
- An average Joe/Jo field-salesperson — it’s equally important to have a ground-floor perspective to represent the viewpoint of the majority of the attendees.
If you go down this path, remember to appoint a separate moderator. This task might be best outsourced to a professional, as it’s a real skill to direct and share a group discussion while avoiding having four people answering the same question.
However you celebrate your achievements at your 2019 sales kickoff, don’t forget that the majority of your salespeople are not at the top of the leaderboard — but they all have the potential to get there with the right training and motivation.