It’s strange to me that we still rely on a sales kickoff and solely focus on the strategy and training that need to happen for the sales team. It’s time to make it a “customer kickoff” and bring everyone together: sales, service, business development, marketing, and more. It’s all about how everyone can work together to provide value to the customer.
Having previously done this new form of a customer kickoff, I found that we could formally break down barriers. We created cross-functional breakout teams with account executives, service consultants, solution architects, and others. Getting everyone in one room, to engage and interact personally and professionally, helps break down the silos that so often exist.
It’s incredibly effective to create mutual respect for the craft that each person practices. A service or marketing rep can understand that the salesperson isn’t just about closing deals and making money. Instead, there’s a personal interaction to draw on: “Oh, I know her. We were on the same breakout session at kickoff. And I know she's not just trying to close this deal, but really has the customer's best interest at heart." Fostering these relationships does wonders for removing the tension that sometimes develops across teams, replacing apprehension with respect. It’s a great step toward developing personal and professional relationships between service, sales, and the organization at large.