Five Tips for a Great Sales Kickoff

It’s that time of year again, new year resolutions, football playoffs, and sales kickoff (SKO) events. SKOs are a great way for companies to celebrate their salespeoples’ accomplishments in the previous year while also firing them up for the year to come. As marketers, these events are an invaluable source of information and experimentation as we work to keep our marketing strategies fresh and effective.

So whether it’s your first sales kickoff or your twenty-first, it’s always an honor and a privilege to be there. Here are five tips on how to make the most of your next kickoff event. 

  1. Bring your best marketing ideas 
  2. Phone a friend
  3. Remember Cinderella 
  4. Learn the sales strategy
  5. Show your value to sales 

1. Bring your best marketing ideas 

You already have a grand plan for 2022, so why not put together two or three of your marketing team’s best ideas and use the kickoff event as a test run? You’ll be meeting a lot of salespeople, so you can get their feedback on your new ideas to see if they resonate. Then, when you roll out your plan internally, you can say that you have already tested it with sales reps X, Y, and Z, they all said they loved it, and they want to use it with their customers. If your selling idea doesn’t resonate however, you can tweak, refine, and improve it based on their feedback. 

2. Phone a friend

Or rather, put down your phone––and go make a friend. At breakfast or on breaks, make sure you’re interacting with people instead of just checking your email or sitting with your marketing buddy that you know. It seems there’s always a table of marketing people hanging out together, but they’re not who you came to talk to. 

Instead, go find the sales managers and SE teams. Talk to them about the deals they’re working on, any customer stories or anecdotes they have, any problems they have, what their best use cases are––you’ll get a feel for what content reps need and what they think is useless. And ask them questions:

  • Who is the most underrated decision maker at a customer company?
  • Who is your latest customer and how did you get them?
  • How can marketing help you in your job more?
  • What is the best asset you’ve seen, and what’s the worst? 

These events can act like an informal focus group for your ideas, so make the most of it by drilling down into the day-to-day reality of these sales reps. 

3. Remember Cinderella 

Make sure you go to the ball––or rather, the bar and/or parties after sessions are over. Go out and have fun, buy a salesperson a drink, and again, get to know them and their insights. But keep Cinderella in mind and remember to leave before midnight. Nothing good happens after that. So when the clock strikes twelve, you better be out of there––and don’t forget your glass slipper. 

4. Learn the sales strategy

While you’re at the event, be present at the sessions and not just a butt in a seat. Find some sessions led by solution management or sales leaders. These typically feature great wins, new logos, and ample customer stories. Take note of those stories and anecdotes, and use them when you go back to your marketing team. 

Often companies will schedule a sales pretraining to set the stage for their salespeople. Go find out if there is such a pretraining, and take this opportunity to learn their sales strategies. Again, take notes, and use them to inform your marketing decisions back in the office. 

5. Show your value to sales 

All too often, marketers can get caught up in the beautiful nuances of marketing: customer journeys, digital snackable content, buyer personas, intent data, etc. But sales leaders don’t want to hear about likes or leads. They want to see how marketing is proving value––and if you can’t demonstrate the value of your program, why is it there?

To show your value to sales, you need results, preferably in the form of data points that demonstrate tangible ROI. If you show up boasting of your new infographic that got 47 likes, for example, most sales leaders will roll their eyes. Instead, show how your campaign, program, event, etc. brought in new revenue-producing opportunities. Show that, and Sales will be one of your biggest advocates. 

Post-kickoff: what’s next? 

Finally, after the kickoff ends, write up and share your findings with the rest of your marketing team––and don’t just give a dry factual roundup. Actually get into the intricacies of the stories and use cases you heard; the wins that were highlighted during the event; the reactions you got to the marketing ideas you pitched. By sharing what you learned with the rest of your team, you can make sure that you are all on the same page with regards to your customers’ needs. 

In addition, the salespeople you met during your lunch breaks or at the bar can become your sounding board for your future programs, and now you have a friendly resource in your corner to act as a concept tester. Then, when you’re pitching that concept to your boss for approval, you can tell them exactly what sales think of it and why. 

The takeaway 

Ironically, marketers don’t tend to talk directly to a lot of customers, so the next best thing is to talk to the salespeople who work with those customers day in and day out. Sales kickoff events provide a crucial opportunity to interact with salespeople, hear their stories, and get their feedback on your upcoming marketing ideas. Make the most of these opportunities by showing up, digging in, and getting curious about the ins and outs of sales. 

If you’re interested in working with Aventi Group, contact us for a free 30-min consultation.