Sales kick-offs happen at the beginning of sales projects, and they help align salespeople with their new sales initiatives and share expectations, roles, and responsibilities.
Kick-offs tend to be easy for managers — you tell your reps what’s going on and send them back into the field to begin their work. But that simplicity can lead to lackluster starts that don’t maximize the impact of your kick-off.
To get into a strong start, you need to do more than tell people about the project. A good kick-off meeting should also:
- Set expectations around what you’re trying to accomplish
- Establish roles and responsibilities
- Present key success factors for new salespeople
Some companies keep their kick-offs focused on the project and include a detailed rollout plan as an attendee guide. Others use the kick-off to secure buy-in from reps for specific initiatives such as selling against lower-priority accounts, selling differently, selling more effectively.
Sometimes you need to vary your kick-off approach depending on the situation:
- When the new project requires reps to do something different, use your kick-off meeting to explain what that change is
- When you need your kick-offs to help advance an important initiative that’s not directly tied to a salesperson or rep’s specific job, consider adding items like customer testimonials, vision statements, and company strategy information
Here are 12 kick-off meeting ideas to inspire your next session.
What Do You Need To Know?
Kick-offs are most effective when reps clearly understand their new project’s expectations, parameters, and resources.
Instead of simply telling everyone what they need to know about the project, send out a plan ahead of time, asking them what questions they have about the project.
In your kick-off, answer their questions in real-time and use their feedback to refine your next go-around. The kick-off becomes an on-going process of learning and refining rather than a single event.
Balanced Scorecard Review
A balanced scorecard approach effectively measures success for new initiatives or changes in selling strategy.
Prepare a presentation that reviews the four perspectives of the balanced scorecard
- Learning and growth
Give reps a chance to walk through your scorecard, ask questions, and provide feedback. In the end, discuss how their goals tie back into the overall vision set out by the company. This approach helps salespeople understand how their role impacts the company’s success.
The balanced scorecard also provides a way to share critical metrics with reps quickly to see how their performance contributes to the company’s overall success.
Your Rep’s Journey
When salespeople know what to expect during their first days, weeks, and months on the job, they’re more likely to get off to a successful start.
At your kick-off meeting, walk everyone through your reps’ journeys in the new role – from on boarding to ramp-up to achieve total productivity.
Include what reps should expect from their manager and other team members and critical success factors that elevate a good salesperson into a great one. Ensure you also cover the challenges they may face along the way.
Company Culture Presentation
Using a company culture presentation at your kick-off meeting is a great way to show reps their new role within your organization.
The presentation should cover its vision, values, and goals, so salespeople understand how they contribute to the bigger corporate picture. Presenting it as part of the kick-off ensures everyone shares this information, regardless of working together directly.
It is essential to tie the company culture presentation into reps’ success. If their new initiatives include selling differently or selling more effectively, discuss how those changes fit into your corporate vision of where the company is headed and what it stands for.
Welcome to the team
Take the opportunity at your kick-off meeting to integrate new hires into the company’s social ecosystem by showing them how to connect with others on their team. It’s essential reps meet these people during this crucial time, so they feel like part of the team and don’t feel alone or lost when starting their job for the first time.
Remember, everyone has different communication preferences — some are introverts who dislike instant messaging, while others prefer using it regularly. Send out a follow-up email after your kick-off meeting with suggested team members to connect with now that you’ve introduced them at the kick-off.
Welcome to the project
Every project has goals and milestones, so why not present those during your sales kick-off meeting? Doing so helps everyone understand an individual’s role and their specific responsibilities for hitting those targets.
Include a list of each person’s responsibilities, the timeframe to get them done, and their dependencies with other team members. This way, everyone knows who’s responsible for what through project completion.
Many kick-offs focus on the new project, but you can make your meeting more effective by including updates on other initiatives relevant to your reps’ jobs. Use the time to highlight how these projects will impact them directly or what they need to know to stay on top of changes in the company.
When you have reps reporting into a new role, consider using a beneficiary session.
In this exercise, you show your new reps what other teams say and help them succeed. For example, if they’re in a direct sales role, show them social media posts and other communications from customer-facing groups that generate interest in their products and services.
Bring in a customer representative or former customer whose experience with your company is culture-defining for your brand. This type of presentation at your kick-off meeting works best when you’re introducing new products, services, or initiatives. Deliver it as a case study that shows the potential impact your company can have on customers.
New Tools and Technology Forum
Talking about the tools and technologies your reps will use is an essential part of any kick-off meeting.
Take 15-20 minutes to go through your tools, beginning with the ones you just introduced and progressing backward. Discuss how they can integrate into existing workflows, who’s responsible for using them, and the benefits they offer.
The tools and technologies that generate the most interest from your reps are often the ones they’re curious about. Assign a team member to create a follow-up list that details what tools and technologies they want to learn more about.
When your new reps are up to speed using the tools and technology, take them through a training session. Be sure to include what you expect them to use these resources and how other teams within your organization use them.
For example, if you train your product team on Marketo, show your reps how marketing uses the platform to manage different campaigns. This helps them understand how what they do impacts other teams and help each other out.
The training session is also a great time to discuss company-specific knowledge management tools. For example, if you have an inside sales team, use this training session to show your reps how to access customer information in the CRM system using Salesforce or another BI tool.
Best Practices Discussion
For your kick-off meeting, go over the best practices you’ve identified that will accelerate your new hires’ success in their roles. You might discuss how your company handles information requests, project management, internal communication, and more. Ask your reps what they’re doing at the previous organizations they think are unique to them, then adopt that into how you do things moving forward.
Your new reps are joining a business, so give them context on how it operates by introducing the different teams and internal players — who they report into, what projects they’re working on, etc.
You can even discuss your organizational structure to help integrate into reporting relationships more quickly. Doing this at kick-off is a great way to set the tone for the rest of their tenure, letting them know how your company operates — especially if it’s different from what they’re used to.
Career Development Planning
Don’t forget about your new hires’ future success in their roles! Now is the perfect time to bring up their career paths and advance within the company.
Encourage them to develop a strategy for the immediate future and two years from now, five years from now, and ten years from now. You’ll likely learn about different opportunities and challenges, which will help you provide the necessary support (e.g., coaching and training) to help them achieve their goals.
Start the meeting off by discussing how your company is doing! Your reps will likely be curious about everything from leadership changes and financial results to business metrics and upcoming product launches. Ask each representative if they have any questions to hear what’s on their minds.
A great way to get your team on the same page is to go over recent company news. You can always do a quick walk around the room, asking people for any questions or concerns they might have. You could even split off into smaller groups if you feel their interests are too varied to discuss it in one big group.
This meeting is all about getting your team on the same page so listening to each other and focusing on successes is vital.