5 Tips for a Kick-Ass 2014 Sales Kickoff

As the calendar turns from December to January, sales leaders naturally have a lot on their plates – they are under pressure to hit their Q4 bookings goals and have to start thinking about filling the sales pipeline for next year, while continuing to manage their sales team. One key responsibility that often falls by the wayside is planning for the 2014 Sales Kickoff.

This is a mistake. Whether your 2014 Sales Kickoff is an extravagant affair held at an exotic destination, a one-day offsite at the CEO’s residence, or even just a day’s worth of meetings held within the comforts of your office, it should be treated as the important event that it is. This means lots of planning on your part. Put in the work ahead of time – and follow these 5 tips – to ensure that your 2014 Sales Kickoff is a truly kick-ass event.

Focus on the sales metrics that matter

Many CEOs and Sales VPs will touch on annual revenue figures and other high-level sales metrics at their sales kickoff, eschewing the nitty-gritty sales metrics that govern the day-to-day aspects of the sales team. Doing so will further widen the gap between your sales reps and the sales analytics they should be working with on a regular basis. Get the year off right by emphasizing these key sales metrics at the 2014 Sales Kickoff.

A comprehensive sales funnel analysis is a good place to start. Identify areas of weakness for the entire sales team by looking at the conversion ratios between different sales funnel stages. Share key takeaways of how your team can improve the overall sales process – including your own ideas for doing so – and talk about how you can move deals faster from one stage to the next.

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The sales kickoff is also a great time to dive into key sales pipeline metrics. How is your pipeline looking for January and the rest of Q1? What was your pipeline coverage ratio for 2013? What does this mean for you in terms of generating the necessary pipeline you need to hit quota in 2014? Looking at these key sales pipeline metrics at the 2014 Sales Kickoff will allow you to start selling in 2014 on the right foot.

Communicate your vision and overarching strategy for 2014

This means more than just getting up in front of your sales team, banging the podium and saying, “In 2014, we are going to close more deals!” Be more specific about what you want your sales team to achieve in the upcoming year. If your main focus is revenue, point to a specific bookings goal and delineate what that number means for each rep at a micro-level.

But revenue at all costs should not be the be-all-end-all goal discussed at the 2014 Sales Kickoff. Talk about more specific goals. For example, do you want your team to focus on increasing the overall market share? Are there specific industries you want to break into? Is there a specific product that you’d like to push harder? Do you want more consistent, across-the-board performances from your entire team over the course of the year? Being specific and focused about your goals and expectations – and then clearly communicating it to each team member – will result in more dedicated buy-in on their part.

Rally the troops!

Of course, a big part of any sales kickoff is to motivate and inspire your sales team. Whether you’re looking to rebound from a down year, or simply hoping to keep the strong momentum going, it is critical to make sure your troops are motivated and inspired to keep turning in great performances.

Since sales reps are a naturally competitive species, promoting a sense of friendly competition within the team is a great way to keep them motivated, and the 2014 Sales Kickoff is a good place to start. Discuss how each individual rep performed last year, while highlighting the top performers; those who are not highlighted will take notice and hopefully, a fire will be lit within them. This is also a great time to introduce a sales leaderboard onto your sales team, with regular updates and standings on how each rep is performing relative to the rest of their teammates.

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Don’t forget to leave room for sales coaching

While your reps might not look forward to this aspect of the 2014 Sales Kickoff, it is nevertheless an integral aspect. During the regular selling day, you might be pressed for time to actually focus on sales coaching. The 2014 Sales Kickoff, with all your reps in one place, is a great opportunity to do so. Highlight specific weaknesses or areas of improvement that you would like to shore up on your team across the board.

This is a good time to perform a win/loss analysis on a variety of different subsets. Communicate to your team what a winning opportunity and sales process looks like, compared to losing ones. If there is a new product being rolled out, this would be a suitable occasion for training on how to sell these new items. Additionally, coaching in a large group allows each team member to help each other learn, bouncing ideas and best practices off each other while talking honestly and openly. The 2014 Sales Kickoff can essentially be a very productive group coaching session – if executed correctly.

Have some fun!!

Finally, the 2014 Sales Kickoff should also be a time to pat each other on the back and let loose a little bit. You’ve had a long, but successful, year. You should take some time to sit back and reflect on you and your team’s accomplishments. Highlight individual reps who are worthy of the acclaim. Share some laughs over that one crazy client, or that great trip that the sales team took together out to Dreamforce 2013.

Most importantly, use the 2014 Sales Kickoff to come together as a team. Sales forces work best when there is total alignment; between the Sales VP and his or her charges, between each member of the sales team and between sales and marketing. Plan for some team-bonding activities; for our money, bowling and beer works more effectively than trust falls. As the sales leader, your team will look to you for team-bonding inspiration and fun, so be mindful of that as you conduct yourself throughout the 2014 Sales Kickoff.

Planning for the 2014 Sales Kickoff might seem like an inconsequential task amid your myriad other responsibilities, but it shouldn’t be! Planning for, and having, a successful sales kickoff will help ensure that you and your team head into 2014 full of vim and vigor, ready to achieve all your selling goals.


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