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. The structure of the meeting’s agenda is one of the key factors that will determine the meeting’s overall success. After keynoting more than one hundred sales kickoffs, here’s some ideas on how best to structure the sales kickoff agenda of a day and a half meeting for a medium-sized company.
The main objectives of the day and a half day sales kickoff agenda are “Preparation and Renewed Motivation.” Since the meeting is short, there simply isn’t enough time to devote to detailed hands-on product training. Rather, higher level information should be presented and the more detailed material provided on a CD, or better yet, online over the company intranet.
Day One - Morning Session
Welcome – I recommend having a senior executive act as emcee for the entire meeting. This person will help keep the meeting on track, review the day’s agenda, and provide house-keeping instructions to attendees such as when and where to meet for events.
Global Sales Review – Vice president of sales reviews the prior year results and discusses the successes, challenges, along with the goals for the upcoming year.
Company “State of the Union” – CEO review of the financial and operational milestones achieved during the past year, perspective of the company’s future, and important developments within the industry.
Guest Keynote Speaker – In this speaking slot, you want a powerful presenter with an impactful message that dovetails to the theme of the sales kickoff.
Marketing Update – High level update from vice president of marketing on new marketing programs, lead generation initiatives, industry analyst reviews, and market positioning versus the competition.
Day One - Afternoon Session
Product Review – Updates on new products, enhancements to product line, and the future product road-map.
Competitive Review –Analysis and comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of major competitive product offerings.
Departmental Updates from services and support, consulting, training, partners and alliances, manufacturing, and sales operations.
Cocktail Reception – An important bonding session where colleagues and old friends re-connect.
Group Dinner – A sit-down dinner is preferable to buffet style.
After Dinner Guest Speaker – A fast-paced, up-tempo sales-related presentation that includes a healthy dose of humor and some pithy take-away points (30 minutes).
Awards Presentations for top salespeople, managers, and sales support recognition.
Day Two – Morning Session
Customer Presentation Review – Since the customer presentation is one of the most important moments in the sales cycle, it should be reviewed in its entirety to the sales team.
Salesperson Success Stories – One of the most important aspects of the sales kickoff is salespeople sharing the experiences about where they won and why. I recommend a salesperson interview panel with an experienced moderator as the best format to accomplish this.
Sales Cycle Management – The best sales meetings provide the salespeople with models of how customers make their buying decisions and the best way by which to manage the sales process.
Closing Motivational Speaker – The closing motivational speaker needs to be able to rally the troops and reinvigorate them with a sense of purpose.
CALL TO ACTION! – Vice President reviews key messages from the meeting and closes the kickoff with a Call to Action.
Lunch – Buffet style lunch and attendees head home.
Finally, I am not a big fan of making sales kickoff attendees lug thick binders of material back on their airplane flights back home (most likely the binder will never be opened again anyway). However, there are definitely a few things they should walk away with. 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 finally, some positive thoughts and pleasant memories about the good time they had celebrating a career that is difficult, demanding, but ultimately, extremely rewarding.