SalesHood - Sales Enablement Platform

Sales Kick Off Planning Best Practices

Here is a “Sales-Kick Off” note highlighting some lessons I’ve learned about sales kick-off planning best practices. 

We all get lost in the logistical details of fiscal year planning and kick off events and we tend to forget about the message. I hope all of you get the most out of your kick-off events and map your business strategy and goals to your event theme.

Every year while I was at running sales productivity, we invested a lot of time and resources to get our sales messages and sales best practices just right.  My team and I ran over twenty-five+ amazing sales kick-off events over the years for thousands of sales professionals in every major city around the world.  Regardless whether you’re hosting an event in a central location or doing a virtual event, you have an audience that is looking and waiting for inspiration and direction.  Don’t lose this chance to get the messages right and get the most value for your investment and time.

This is what we’d do every year:


1.  Analyze the deal flow of wins and losses

Look for trends to answer some foundational questions:

  • What problems did we solve for our customers?
  • Why did our customer buy now?
  • What business value do we provide?
  • How did our customers buy?
  • How did we sell?


2.  Interview your sales teams to build a library of repeatable winning plays

Turn sales activity that works into a Playbook for the team that they can apply to their business this year. Be curious when you do the interviews and have an open mind. Chances are you’ll uncover some new best practices. Here are some items for you to collect while you do your interviews:

  • Buyer personas
  • Executive outreach
  • Customer scenarios
  • Compelling events
  • Ptich decks & solutions
  • Competitive positioning
  • Board presentations
  • Business cases


3.  Build a library of sales best practices.

Collate the materials that were used and create a set of action-oriented sales tools for the sales teams to immediately use. Create a library including:

  • WInning pitch decks
  • Customer stories
  • Email templates
  • Killer questions
  • Common objections


4.  Anchor your sales kick off event with a theme that aligns, motivates and prioritizes activity.

Once you’ve completed your interviews and collated the sales tools, you’ll have hopefully have a hypothesis of what it takes to win. The way to transform your sales team is to bring your hypothesis to life in the form of a theme that is easily memorable.  Map the theme to your culture.  In the past we’ve used themes like SUCCESS, Power of You, Year of…and ENGAGE – where each word and phrase is intended to motivate fresh thinking and winning sales activity.

(Remember the sales kick off event is a motivational and alignment event. Don’t try and to do too much education in such a short period of time.  You have all year to reinforce your messages and education with an ongoing training program.)


5. Create a narrative that maps to the themes of the upcoming year. 

This is a very important step.  Use your keynote sessions and your breakouts to celebrate successes. Highlight the behaviors and activity you want your entire sales team to emulate. In some years, we even created a “best of video” montage of sales people sharing their winning sales strategies. A video is a great sales asset to have sales people take home with them and refer back to as a reinforcement on their own and in sales manager team meetings.


Assemble the right team of professionals that understand your deal flow.  Keep the logistics team separate if you can. Don’t forget to prioritize the focus on the message, not just the ever so important logistics. Use your curiosity and discovery skills when you talk to your sales teams as you’ll probably find out some amazing plays that will become “gold nuggets” for your sales teams.


Good luck finishing the year strong!

About the Author
Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $500M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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