How to Host a Sales Kickoff Meeting That Has Lasting Impact

It’s that time of year!  The annual sales kickoff meeting.  We pull our sales team out of the field and head someplace warm to:

1. Listen to an inspirational speech with a corny theme

2. High five each other and reassure ourselves about how great we are (even if things haven’t been going so hot)

3. Tell ourselves that prospects are dying to buy what we sell

4. Remind everyone to “stick to the process” (although we don’t really know what that is exactly)

5. Roll out a slightly different version of the same old meetings and training sessions. “Progress,” eh?

Then, we all go back to the field, are energized for about a week…until we revert to our old ways.

So how do we break this cycle for good?

Here are the steps to hosting a sales kickoff meeting that starts the year off right:

Begin with WHY

Why are you meeting? If you don’t have a solid reason, then don’t meet just to meet. What is the single most important goal for the sales team next year? Make that your theme.  Everything you do during the sales kickoff meeting needs to directly support that goal.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Diagnose specific problems and treat them

Make a list of 2-3 opportunities for improvement. Don’t dwell on last year but figure out where your true potential lies. What problems existed, or what was missing?

What do your salespeople need to succeed at their roles?  If you don’t know, ask your sales team! Ask customers why they bought from you and prospects why not.

Be specific!  Don’t put up something broad and ridiculous like, “we did not sell enough last year.” Instead, a better example might be: our sales teams didn’t have enough insight into close ratios to manage adequate pipelines and improve forecast accuracy.

Once you diagnose the main setbacks within your control, address how you plan to solve them!  Remember, you’re not trying to save the world. Don’t attempt to tackle several problems at once, instead pick 2 or 3 to focus on.

Every professional development and growth session during your sales kickoff meeting must provide direct solutions for the specific problems.

Create specific and attainable metrics with performance indicators that gauge how you are tracking through the year, as a group and individually.

For example, if you have identified that you do not have enough net new, qualified prospects in your pipeline funnel to hit your revenue targets, then create some specific goals for each sales team and member for the month, quarter, and year.

Be sure to include a specific litmus test for what you consider a qualified prospect, a code for the sales cycle phase and how “hot” the prospect is, and tools to help keep in contact with these prospects for you sales team. But don’t forget, these tools are only as good as your sales teams follow through. Tracking the movement of prospects through their journey is key to measuring success.

Goals are set…now what?


Sales is hard work. Celebrate last year and your wins!  Enjoy a little time with your team, appreciating their unique contribution and dedication.  Recognition should be a personal thing… Understand what drives your people and how they feel rewarded and appreciated.  Not every person is motivated by the big trophy, and not every person recharges with the same activities.

Hone your craft

Sales is a skill. Measure and benchmark your sales team’s skill levels and then create a plan to boost skills that they’ve either not built or not sharpened in a while! You know the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” But rather is the compounding of small steps daily that sums big movement. Likewise, it’s important to ensure that you don’t let your experienced sales team members off the hook.  Sometimes, the more experienced the team, the less they flex those sales muscles, because they can get away with it. ?

People learn by connecting with peers, doing and teaching. Training must incorporate these methods!

Create a plan for follow up

Most salespeople leave the kickoff meeting feeling refreshed, energized, and positive about the year to come.  They have spent some time sharpening skills and are ready to put those to use.

How do you keep that feeling…keep that focus?  You put a plan in place for sales managers to keep the momentum going and keep practicing the skills sharpened.  Create teaching moments for each member of the sales team to reinforce skill development throughout the year.

It is critical that your company keep a pulse on the team’s progress throughout the year, and frequently.  Celebrate small wins and highlight gaps in the performance indicators early and often.

Your sales kickoff meeting sets the tone for the remainder of the year, so you want to make it as impactful as possible.

Educate and energize your sales team, arm them with tools and support, then hold them accountable with continuous training and regular monitoring of performance indicators.

Now, Go get it!  Make 2019 your best year yet by starting off with an amazing sales kickoff meeting!

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