Anyone who has worked in the sales team at a large corporation will probably have been part of the annual sales kickoff event, which can take place in January or at the start of the company’s fiscal year. If you’ve primarily been employed within a small or medium-sized business, this is what it’s like:
The sales kickoff at some companies might rival the size and ambition of a major industry conference. They often take place off-site at a hotel, resort or other venue that forces reps to leave their everyday office duties behind. Some firms will hire well-known authors as keynote speakers, or bring in senior executives from their largest and most loyal customers to provide some insightful advice. There might be group activities and offbeat fun, like a drumming circle to stir up the team’s collective energy. There’s often lively music throughout to make sure reps leave the sales kickoff practically dancing their way towards new prospects and increased revenue from existing customers.
At an SMB, a grand sales kickoff may simply be impossible, for several reasons. A big one is budget: depending on where they are in their growth journey, a lot of firms can’t afford the luxury of celebrity speakers and fancy venues. Then there’s the time considerations: SMBs are often crunched to accomplish everything they need during a given quarter, month, week or day. Holding a full-day or multi-day sales kickoff means less time to give their customers the attention they expect and deserve.
Given the high-pressured nature of working in sales, though, a sales kickoff can offer a lot of benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Much like setting new year’s resolutions, it’s an opportunity to get the year started off on the right foot. If your company doesn’t (or can’t) hold a sales kickoff, reps could consider carving out some time to do one on their own. Think of it as a critical act of self-development -- even if you have to do it outside of office hours. Here’s a few ways to get started.
Big companies usually align their kickoff to a specific business objective, perhaps even tying into something that’s being promoted towards customers as part of their marketing efforts. One of the benefits of creating your own, personal sales kickoff is that you can tailor it to your individual strengths and weaknesses.
Start by diving into Sales Cloud and look at your win rates and other performance data cross your current account base. Look for the stumbling blocks or areas where closing a deal stalled. You might notice, for instance, that it became clear later in sales process that customers needed additional material to make their decision. Your personal kickoff theme might therefore be about “Educating To Empower,” where you think more deeply about how you can inform and inspire buyers earlier in their journey with you.
Weak spots and failures aren’t the only ways to come up with a theme, of course. You could focus on building upon successes and strengths. If you got started with social selling last year, for instance, maybe 2018 could be your “Year Of Social-First Selling.”
You don’t need to hire your own personal guru to stand in front of you and offer life lessons. Inspiration of all kinds is just a click away. There are plenty of TED talks, for example, that are available on demand that address issues of perseverance, risk-taking and strategic thinking. These aren’t necessarily people who are experts in selling, but that’s not the point. Listen to their stories and adapt what they’ve said to your own challenges. There are often obvious links if you pay close attention.
If you want something more specific to your role, this is a great time to go back to that archived webinar from your customers, suppliers or other industry expert that you never got around to watching over the last year.
For some people, of course, nothing beats a live experience. So turn to your manager and schedule a coaching session where you come prepared with a list of focused questions that gets them talking -- and teaching -- about all the things you’ve always wanted to learn.
Big companies can afford to hire a band or a DJ, but even individual sales reps have options. Look for curated playlists of music that lift your spirits and gets your energy up via streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Have your favourite tracks playing in the background as you work on your motivation for 2018.
Again, this is where diving back into your CRM can help. What can the data tell you about overlooked opportunities, underserved market segments or other areas where you can carve out more wins? Instead of sitting down, stand up while you jot down at least 10 things you’re going to try or do differently this year to move the needle on your performance. This shouldn’t only include who you pitch, but how you manage your time, an increase in the way you use tools like Sales Cloud, or how you’ll collaborate with other departments like marketing and customer service.
Once you’ve written those goals, take the next step to hold yourself accountable. Write a blog post that gives some context as to why you’re excited about the year ahead and the goals you’ve set. Share the post on your firm’s internal or external blog, or even on a social platform like LinkedIn to show how serious you are about your success.
If your personal 2018 sales kickoff leads to bigger or better results by the end of this year, don’t keep it a secret. Talk about it with your peers and even your managers. It might turn out to be the perfect business case for the firm to start developing a company-wide sales kickoff in the years to come.