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Sales Enablement Challenges Series: Sales Kickoffs

This is the fourth post in a series of guest posts from Brian Groth, Sales Enablement Manager at Xactly Corp. Learn how to overcome the challenges of planning a productive, successful (and fun) sales kickoff.

Work isn't always strictly work; there are plenty of fun events companies hold that their employees look forward to. It’s likely your company has a number of these events, whether they’re company-wide retreats, holiday parties, or even weekly dinners or sports games. In sales organizations, one of the most common of these events is the sales kickoff.

What is a sales kickoff?
A sales kickoff event usually marks the official beginning of the fiscal year for a sales organization. It involves celebrating the previous year's successes, building excitement for the upcoming year, and preparing for the challenges of the year ahead. This may be a week-long event, or just a day or single afternoon. These events are a combination of work and play, and it takes a delicate balance to make sure kickoffs are productive but also fun.

Why are sales kickoffs a challenge?
Holding a successful sales kickoff without any hitches is a big challenge. More topics get dropped from the event’s agenda than end up on it, and it can be hard to make sure all important things get done in the amount of time you’ve scheduled. There are numerous activities that usually need to occur, such as product and internal process updates, sales skills training, team building sessions between sales and related teams, and much more. All of this could lead to a chaotic event if not planned and managed properly.

What can you do about it?
The Sales Enablement team should start by working with sales leadership on defining the overall goals the event should help to accomplish. This will give you a baseline plan to stick to and build from. Being on the same page with sales leadership will help to execute and prioritize all of the kickoff’s activities. Then, the Sales Enablement team can partner with all the different department heads (Support, Services, Marketing, Product, Partners, etc.) to get their involvement as needed. Ideally, and depending on the size of your company, you will have department heads own various parts of the event relating to their expertise. This will keep every team updated on others’ progress and priorities, which makes for more communicable and productive companies. Then you can focus on any skills training and/or third party speakers that may occur. It is important to always update the agenda to match the realities of each session: who, what, when, where, and for how long. When items drop off the agenda, keep track of them for future training opportunities.

Sales kickoff events are a fun way to celebrate success and update sales organizations on any and all progress or growth. But it can be difficult to keep kickoffs productive and ensure that your sales reps are receiving the training and information they need to succeed. By carefully preparing and prioritizing activities, companies are capable of holding perfect kickoff events.

Brian Groth is the Sales Enablement Manager at Xactly Corp, where he successfully created and manages Xactly's entire sales enablement program, including the sales process, tools and training.