How to Make Your 2018 Sales Kickoff Memorable for All the Right Reasons


If you’ve been in sales for a while, you’ve no doubt attended a few dud sales kickoff events over the years. You know the ones so thoroughly dull you don’t take in a thing that’s said, or so packed with over-the-top gimmicks that you find yourself thinking to yourself, “When will this be over?!”.

Sales kickoff events come in all shapes and sizes, but if you don’t get them right, you’re wasting the time of your entire sales force as well as your company’s budget.

You only get this chance once a year, so how are you going to make sure your 2018 sales kickoff is remembered for all the right reasons?

Here are some tips for creating an event that leaves your sales team feeling upbeat, on board with sales goals, and ready for the year ahead.


Know What You Want to Achieve with Your Sales Kickoff

Approach your sales kickoff in the same way as you would a sales call: by having a strategy and knowing your objectives. Whatever your main objective is, it should run through every element of your conference to bring unity to the event.

And don’t just state the obvious; of course, you want to prepare your sales team for the coming year. But what will make this year different? Has your company taken on a new direction? Has it recently amended its mission statement and values? Has a merger or change in leadership shaken things up? Do you want your sales reps to adopt a new focus? These are a few ideas that should direct your sales kickoff objective.

Give Your Reps Some Homework

The success of your sales kickoff isn’t just dependent on the organizers; your reps need to be prepared and willing to participate.

One way to get them involved in the preparation and content is to gather their feedback on the things that worked and didn’t work well over the previous year. For example, you can discuss pitching strategies revolving around email – what email subject lines worked the best? Which email templates performed better than others? How did email analytics help with A/B testing? This information can feed into the kickoff itself as well as the company’s overall sales strategy.

And don’t shy away from giving attendees some preparatory homework. You might ask certain people to prepare a presentation or interview, role play a customer call, or share a success story. Give them a chance to learn from one another, not just from management. This keeps reps engaged throughout the conference rather than them feeling like they’re just being talked at the whole time.


Let ‘Em Network and Have Fun

When you have a large national or international sales team, reps will appreciate having some time built in to network with one another (bonus points if you can throw in a little fun by using one of these four excellent sales kickoff themes). You should also encourage employees to connect across levels during this time, giving entry level reps the chance to interact with C-level execs, and across roles so account managers get time with other sales reps and so on.

Having the opportunity to talk about successes, frustrations, and ideas with people across the business can lead to all kinds of new connections and initiatives that would not otherwise have come about.

Staff at all levels may be surprised at what they can learn by mingling in this way, so make networking a structured part of your sales kickoff.


Shout About Your Successes

You’ll want to review the headline numbers across the organization, but it can also be encouraging to hear the more tangible details of individual success stories. If someone is nervous about giving a presentation, have them interviewed – either live or in a pre-recorded session.

Along with reviewing your successes over the past year, be clear about how you will celebrate future achievements. Commission checks play a big part in motivating reps, but there is also value in smaller, non-monetary measures when a sales goal is reached.

It could be a team sales dinner to celebrate reaching a particular goal, for example. But to make sure your rewards are providing the motivation you intended, ask your sales reps to come together and brainstorm how they like to be appreciated for reaching their targets.

If you have a new annual target for 2018, make it more approachable by breaking it down into smaller chunks, and include motivating rewards along each step of the way. Put into place regular training and time for one-on-ones to engage the team and keep them on track.


Making Your Sales Kickoff Count

Your sales kickoff meeting is a time for looking to the past, present, and future of your company. What worked well last year and what needs improvement? Where are you as a sales team right now? And what can you do differently in the future to achieve your goals and vision?


Take the time to prepare properly for this event, so your sales reps remember it for all the right reasons. If you need help getting started, here is an awesome checklist that can help you plan a sales kickoff that your team will rave about for the entire year!