4 Tips for an Effective and Productive 2016 Sales Kickoff Meeting

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock… Can you practically hear 2016 creeping up on you as the seconds tick by? And that means 2016 planning should be underway! As you begin to plan your sales strategy for the upcoming year, it’s important to keep your sales team in the loop so everyone knows what lies ahead. A looking-forward-to-the-year ahead type sales planning meeting might be just the way to do it. The key to this kind of meeting, however, lies in its execution. Your sales kickoff meeting for the new year will set the rhythm and energy for the months to follow, so it’s important that you keep this meeting full of essential information to set your sales team up for success.

Yet it’s not just enough to hold a meeting. You need to make sure people are engaged, or else the information goes in one ear and out the other. You also need to make sure people are on board, or all your planning is for naught.

To help you make the most of this kind of meeting, making it as productive as possible for both you and your sales reps, we’ve pulled together some tips for you:

  • Educate them on new initiatives and goals.
  • Engage them with new ideas and presentation techniques.
  • Motivate them to exceed their 2015 numbers.
  • Build your team.

Educate them on new initiatives and goals
If you want to kickoff your planning of this kickoff meeting, Selling Power has a great article on how to prepare for one. Some of the sales meeting agenda advice we’re offering is drawn from that article, include the recommendation that you use this time to educate your reps. As the article says, “To sell effectively, sales reps need to know what new products, strategic initiatives, and marketing messaging are coming down the pike.

What’s new and on the horizon in your industry? What are your competitors up to? How is the industry changing for your customer? What is the economic forecast? You yourself need to be on top of this kind of information as the sales manager, and you need to make sure that new information is communicated to your sales team. Don’t rely on them to stay abreast of trends and technologies, nor even competitors. They are focused on the lead generation and sales aspects, as they should be. So help them out by being the conduit for them, making sure they are up-to-date on the industry.

Also, take this time to educate them about how the past year went and what expectations are for the year ahead. When doing so, it’s important to ground your information in numbers. Otherwise, there is no real evidence to support new initiatives you might be proposing, or you might meet with disbelief. So take the time to discuss specific sales numbers, leads generated and bookings trends. These numbers can help your team see where they currently stand, and help to give them an idea as to where they need to go next and how to get there in the coming year.

In addition, talk about the big picture stuff. Use the time in your sales kickoff meeting to ensure that your sales team knows not only their own goals, but your organization’s goals as well. They need to be educated as to the current state of your business, and this sales planning meeting is the perfect time to make sure it happens.

Engage them with new ideas and presentation techniques
Information is useless if no one hears it. And you know you’ve been in your share of meetings with a room full of blank stares and distracted expressions! Don’t let that be the environment in your sales planning meeting. Engage them instead, from the very start, even if that means throwing candy at them! (OK, maybe not that…)

If having just the insight into trends and recap of numbers aren’t enough to engage your sales team, there are other ways to get your message across. You could invite guest speakers, customers or partners to speak. You could invite your CEO or VPs from other departments to say a word or two! Or you could recognize top performers of last year (i.e. 2015). You don’t need to turn it into a circus or have the boardroom door seem like a revolving one. Just employing even one creative idea should help you get them engaged.

To maintain that engagement, make sure that everyone feels connected throughout the meeting. Be on your toes as the manager, and keep in mind that no one likes being talked at or having numbers thrown at them. Have a clear sales meeting agenda, make sure everyone knows the agenda (and goals!) going into it, and stay on task ending the meeting on time. That alone can help to keep everyone engaged, when the meeting goes as planned!

Motivate them to exceed their 2015 numbers
A sales team is only as good as the manager who leads them. Therefore, if you want your team to be successful, you can’t just manage them—you have to lead them! And your sales kickoff meeting is the perfect time to set the pace for the new year, with you at the helm.

Use this time to motivate your sales team to exceed their goals and blow past their number. There are many ways to do this, and the Internet is full of ideas (and Google will help you find them). You can utilize gamification, incentivize your sales team, and always help them succeed by inspiring greatness in them, whether you use gaming techniques or incentives to do so.

Build your team
The last key piece to a great sales kickoff meeting is team building, so you can jump into 2016 as a united front. However, a team cannot stand if its players feel excluded or unimportant. Build and strengthen your team so you all succeed together is a great way to build strength in your team. You all stand together—make sure your players are heard, recognized, and part of the team rather than standing on the sidelines.

A strong sales planning meeting prior to January 1 can help make the difference between a good year and a great year. As you prepare for your sales kickoff meeting, keep in mind that your team needs to be educated, engaged, motivated and united so that they are set up for success in the new year. You as the manager know better than anyone else how to bring all of this about, so if the ideas above don’t work for you, use what is tried and true for your team.

The year 2016 is just around the corner. Make it great. Make it yours.

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