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10 Sales Kickoff Meeting Ideas for 2012

We're nearing that time when we need to start preparing 2012 budgets, new compensation plans and something most sales managers don't take enough time in developing: their 2012 sales kickoff meeting.  

Already, many larger organizations are booking their sales conferences for the first quarter. That's where they will invite their sales teams, vendors, resellers and partners to hear their plans to make 2012 the best year ever. Keynote speakers, breakout sessions, new marketing plans and product demonstrations will all be coordinated to boost enthusiasm and excitement in what the new year will bring. I know this because I am booked for five events already. 

However, just because larger organizations are planning their formal conferences, it doesn't mean as a sales leader you shouldn't be planning an event for your sales organization.

A yearly sales kickoff meeting can be organized as an off-site or overnight two-day program, or as a simple half-day event. You should schedule them no later than mid-February. However, the basics of any sales kickoff event should include the following planning ideas.

  1. Announce a theme for the new year. This should be a positive statement of your major objectives and something that can be reinforced throughout the year. "Be Brilliant on the Basics" or Nike's "Just Do It!" are two examples. Give your ideas for your sales theme for the year in the comments section below.

  2. Include time for sales training on sales skills. You might hand out a sales training book as a gift to each salesperson. This will be your first-quarter "must-read" book. You can use the book for extended sales training during your meetings. Also roll out your first quarter sales training plans.

  3. Announce a first-quarter sales contest.

  4. Announce a 2012 year-long sales contest, with a big prize for exceeding quota. Examples include a trip to a resort, a cruise or a trip to an island. Remember, these kinds of incentive programs are not expenses but paid out of incremental revenues/profits. The rollout should include written rules and pictures of the location. See my book Creating High Performance Sales Compensation Plans for ideas on sales contests.

  5. Describe and show your marketing plans for the first six months. This will show the salespeople how your organization is planning to support the sales team.

  6. Schedule the president of your company to give a short message on his/her philosophy on sales and the culture of your organization.

  7. You may or may not announce your new compensation plan at this event; it all depends upon the degree of change you are making. With minor changes, it's a great time, while major changes schedule a separate meeting. Hint: Do not roll out the new compensation plan as the last topic of the meeting. Schedule it early in the afternoon, if your event is a full-day meeting.

  8. Make sure you make the meeting fun!  As the sales leader, work on activities that create the right culture and teamwork. Create a game that everyone participates in during the event.

  9. Make sure each salesperson presents their business plans for the year. Based upon the number of salespeople this can be done by breakouts into regions, smaller groups or as a single group. These business plans include not only forecasts but personal commitments to activity levels and professional growth.

  10. Bring in an outside speaker. This could include a customer telling of their satisfaction with your firm, a sales trainer or a motivational message that propels your team to excellence.

This is your time to bring a coordinated program that sets the tone for the new year. Make sure you take the time to do it right. What additional ideas do you have? Share them below.

Posted by Ken Thoreson on November 14, 2011


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