Uncommon sense: Landing the learning from your sales kickoff

Published on: June 2020

Written by: Cheryl Tidwell

Envision your ideal annual sales kickoff. It’s probably an exciting event where you rally the troops so that they’ll spend the year closing deals left and right, inevitably dominating the competition and boosting your bottom line to new heights. Right? The problem is, most businesses usually don’t experience such dramatic success.




That’s because most businesses treat their sales kickoffs as one-time events without integrating their main strategic messages into follow-up activities and training throughout the rest of the year. In fact, 71% of organizations don’t deliver any follow-up training after their annual kickoff events. So how do you ensure your company does things differently?

For your sales kickoff to yield real results, you need a well-thought-out plan for following up with sales reps that reinforces key messages and maintains the team alignment created during your kickoff.

Igniting Year-Round Success

Big annual kickoff events can act as powerful catalysts for a successful sales year, building momentum and generating the excitement necessary to overcome the day-to-day obstacles. But sales kickoffs can’t and don’t happen year-round. They leave vast in-between stretches for expectations to be forgotten and motivation to dwindle.

However, when companies treat their sales kickoffs like springboards for the entire year and make it clear that more information will be coming after the initial event, they’ll see better compliance among the sales reps and better alignment on their teams.

The key to boosting morale and powering momentum is creating a truly engaging event that’s tied to overarching strategic goals. A sales kickoff will be hard to forget if it contextualizes the strategy in what reps really experience on the job and is coupled with follow-up trainings that bring reps back to the emotional connection they felt during the kickoff. Sales kickoffs that go beyond the event and take the strategy off the paper and put it into action help carry alignment and excitement throughout the year.

Planning Beyond the Event

To create effective follow-ups with sales teams that achieve lasting change, implement these four best practices in your kickoff planning:

1. Design a Road Map. Don’t wait until after your kickoff to plan the follow-up. As a very first step, design a full map of every step you plan to take: where you’re starting and where you want to go, the vision driving your strategy, and the “how” you’ll need to keep sales reps informed and engaged. A map keeps your strategy cohesive and makes communicating your plans considerably easier.

Focus on significant milestones and analytics that align with your overall business strategy, and tailor the plan to fit your organization’s unique needs, processes, and culture. Make sure your map is simple enough to read quickly and easily and aligns everyone in terms of purpose and expectations so that they know the end goal upfront. After all, it’s easier to jump on board with a plan when its purpose is clear.

2. Keep in Touch Quarterly. Keeping in touch can mean a variety of things, but be sure to check in with the sales team at least quarterly. If it makes sense, embrace a variety of ways to stay connected. This could mean combining e-learning with peer phone calls or showing videos of customer testimonials of others’ success.

Sales leaders should share updates and insights on initiatives, and sales enablement teams can help keep the momentum alive. Highlight specific wins using the learnings from the kickoff if you can. As they say, success breeds success.

3. Take Small Steps. With each meeting or conversation, check in on progress and challenges with the strategy and adjust if needed. Don’t be afraid to adjust and involve the team in making the adjustments. Don’t expect people to change overnight, but celebrate the small changes they do make. The more opportunity to provide for them to practice the wanted changes, the more comfortable they will become with their clients and the more success they will have.

Give them time to adjust, but keep moving forward to new material. At the same time, provide opportunities for constructive conversations with peers so that sales reps can learn from one another. Peer groups can facilitate healthy accountability and help reps find clear paths to mastering new ways of working.

4. Embed New Steps in Daily Processes. Sales reps need to know the specifics of how a new approach will look in everyday processes. Handing out a playbook at an event is a good start, but go beyond that to incorporate new and repeatable habits into the daily workflow.

Whether you’ve presented general industry insights or introduced new sales solutions, get those new ideas into daily tools like new collateral, the customer relationship management system and leader coaching conversations. Practice and exposure to the new way of doing things will help them adapt to the unique situations that constantly pop up in the field.

Event follow-up can come in many forms. Having a plan and adjusting it early and often will let you reap the benefits of your investment in a kickoff event. Keep your employees motivated through appropriate follow-up training and you’ll see improved productivity, enriched culture, and a more lucrative bottom line.

Want to get a glimpse into how we drive profits for companies through transforming their sales organizations? Check out this case study to learn more.