The annual sales kickoff at SAP is a spectacle like no other. In fact, many people will live their entire lives without an opportunity to participate in such extravagance. Understanding that if you're in sales long enough you'll eventually end up in a conference room in Las Vegas, I say that even for Vegas’ standards the SAP kickoffs I attended always exceeded my expectations as an Account Executive and left me wanting more. A most impressive feat if you consider these events as I do; they usually suck!
My experience with SAP is slightly dated at this point. But still fresh in my mind were the live concerts that opened the morning keynotes, highly engaging talk tracks about corporate performance, and even more engaging breakout sessions with strategic customers, thought leaders, and top performing employees. I’m also quick to recall the private Seinfeld performance, and the CEO of Harley Davidson handing out new Softail motorcycles from stage to those who had crushed their numbers in the previous months.
You’d walk the halls of the convention center feeling like you were a part of something special. You left the event feeling excited, reinvigorated, and proud. Exactly the way you needed to feel to produce stellar results. And we did as a result. The kickoff was the centerpiece for the entire year. It inspired confidence. It was a major production rather than just another 4-day meeting that left you wanting to pull your eyes out, and so too should be yours.
Now, surely SAP’s price tag amounted to some midsize country's GDP, they were serving a team of thousands. By no means am I suggesting you break the bank every time your team’s in town. What I am suggesting is to view it as the investment you are making in the team that will return an entire year or quarter’s worth of revenue performance. As a Percentage of that, consider it to be something strategic rather than the week long Sales-a-palooza.
The next time I go to plan a kick off, here are the few key elements I will make sure I have in place to make sure it doesn't suck:
- Step 1 - A relevant theme for event with links to an overall vision of sales operations for the year.
- Step 2 - Some form of entertainment to start each day. Operating on no budget, get creative, lots of inexpensive ways to build energy in the room before diving into content. Try polling the team for hidden talents. Motion creates emotion; don’t just jump into the numbers. Every good meal starts with an appetizer.
- Step 3 - Plan inspirational morning keynotes; identify external resources to present provocative topics rather than your standard business reviews (think The Art of, or mini Ted Talks). Elevated messages about your customer’s customers’ success.
- Step 4 - Plan one major and substantive presentation on past/present/future performance. Must aim to give team meaningful revenue analytics to assist and educate towards desired behaviors. Not just a “Here’s How We Did!” Should also be mindful to provide a comprehensive pipeline analysis.
- Step 5 - Include training on current best practices, tips, tricks, techniques, and trends.
- Step 6 - Reward and Recognize. Recognize that it’s the recognition that’s recognized, healthy competition is critical to team performance
- Step 7 - Make Contribution. Regardless of the rewards your team is enjoying, gratitude and philanthropy in the local community is fundamental to corporate citizenship.
The Bottom Line
Your sales kickoff is the investment you make to elicit maximum performance from your team on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. An opportunity to instill confidence, inspire, motivate, and equip your group with the tools they will need to deliver constant improvement. Follow a plan, get creative, include at least a few of the elements I have highlighted, and you’ll be well on your way to having your team members write about how great it was 5 years after the fact.
Your sales team’s looking for the next big WOW? Check out Social Selling and how it can make a difference with your sales efforts. To kick start your efforts have a read of the 10 steps to building a social selling machine. If you'd like to learn more about how Social Selling can bring value to your sales kick off, let's book a time together to discuss. Click on my below calendar to schedule.