Friday, September 2, 2011

Four Critical Sales Kickoff Meeting Success Factors

Regardless of whether your company calls it the annual sales meeting, yearly sales conference, or once-a-year sales rally, the annual sales kickoff meeting is the most important sales meeting of the year. Let’s assume you are in charge of planning your company’s annual sales kickoff. You’ve picked the best location, chosen the right hotel, and are in the process of finalizing the meeting plans. 

There are four critical factors that impact the success of the meeting. You have to have the right theme for the meeting, build the best agenda, select the right keynote speaker, and capture the event so attendees can review critical sessions after the event. 

1) Selecting the Meeting Theme
The first step toward conducting a successful sales kickoff starts with choosing the right theme. With this goal in mind, here are important points to consider when selecting your sales kickoff theme. One of the most important factors to keep in mind as you choose your theme is the level of the sales force’s morale. All sales forces go through periods of high and low morale. When morale is high, you can be more creative and take bigger risks with the theme you choose.

Conversely, I wouldn’t recommend such an over-the-top theme during tough times. In this situation the theme should be more commonsensical like “Better, Stronger, Faster,” which provides a platform that meeting presenters can use to talk about changes and upcoming improvements. Click here for a detailed article about selecting a sales kickoff theme.

2) Agenda Structure
The structure of the meeting’s agenda is one of the key factors that will determine the meeting’s overall success. The main objectives of the sales kickoff agenda are preparation and renewed motivation. Remember, there are three objectives your agenda should reinforce: first, a renewed sense of pride in the company they work for; second, honest enthusiasm to get back into the field and ramp up the new year; and some positive thoughts and pleasant memories about the good time they had celebrating a career that is difficult and demanding but, ultimately, extremely rewarding. Click here for an article of best ideas on how to structure the sales kickoff agenda.

3) Select the Right Keynote Speaker
There are four main types of keynote speakers to choose from: celebrity, motivational, industry mavens, and sales experts. Celebrities (such as entertainment stars, sports heroes, business icons and politicians) will speak mainly about their personal experiences. Conversely, industry mavens are analysts and consultants who talk about current issues and future business trends. Meanwhile, motivational speakers exuberantly try to touch listeners’ emotions. And, finally, there are sales experts who share their specific sales-related wisdom and knowledge with the audience. So, how do you decide which one is right for you?

There aren’t any two sales forces that are exactly alike. Every sales force is unique in three different ways: complexity of the sales process, the average level of sales experience, and the state of morale. Perhaps the biggest mistake when selecting a sales kickoff presenter is picking one whose main message doesn’t apply to the products you sell or resonate with the sophistication of the sales force. For instance, even though a keynote speaker has successfully presented to Midwestern real estate agents in the past, he or she would not be a good fit for a Silicon Valley software company. Click here for a complete article about selecting a sales kickoff keynote speaker.

4) Capture the Meeting for Future Review
Based upon my personal experience, I strongly recommend that every sales kickoff be captured for future review. Let me explain why. The average person speaks about 125 words per minute. So, it’s nearly im­possible for meeting attendees to fully absorb the more than 60,000 words they hear each day. A post-meeting review of critical sales kickoff presentations should be available so the sales teams can revisit the key takeaways and important discussions at their own pace. In addition, some salespeople might not have been able to attend the meeting. Also, there will be new hires throughout the year who can view the sales kickoff recording as part of their on-boarding process.

The virtual sales kickoff should be accessible by topics and presenter as opposed to a lengthy rebroadcast that is watched in one long session. This requires that a virtual platform that provides intelligent on-de­mand access be used. Both the speaker and his or her slides should be shown simultaneously. Important presentation materials, slides, sales collateral, and training documents should be accessible for download. Viewers should be provided with interactive functionality so they can submit questions to meeting present­ers long after the presentation and be able to chat with colleagues who might be watching.

Providing on-demand access to the sales kickoff is an extremely economical way to reinforce the meeting messages, maximize the training investment, and extend the motivational afterglow. It typically costs 2% to 5% of the total meeting costs to record and post the meeting to a commercially available online virtual platform. You can expect ten times the number of meeting attendees to visit an online kickoff on average. For example, a meeting with 500 attendees would average 5,000 post-meeting visitors.