Complete Guide To The Sales Kickoff Meeting: Planning, Ideas, and Hot Tips!

Complete Guide To The Sales Kickoff Meeting: Planning, Ideas, and Hot Tips!

When you were a kid, did your mom ever ask, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too, just to fit in?”

As with many life lessons from mom, this oldie but goodie is just as true within the corporate world of adulthood as it was in childhood.

Just because every other company plans dreadfully boring sales kickoff meetings every year that accomplish nothing doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing.

In fact, a well-done sales kickoff can help propel your business to greatness. All you have to do is get rid of the “same old, same old” mentality and inject a little life into your events.

Luckily, we at Firefly Team Events are your friendly neighborhood corporate event planners, and we take great pleasure in helping leaders like you plan awesome events that accomplish your goals. That’s why we’ve put together this guide with all of our favorite sales kickoff meeting ideas in one convenient article.

So if you’re not getting the results you want from your current strategy (or you’ve never planned a kickoff before at all, and you want to know what all the fuss is about), you’re in the right place.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about sales kickoffs, or…

…hire Firefly to do all of the tricky stuff for you! We’ll plan fun activities, host, and do all the grunt work for your next company get-together, so all you have to plan are the actual sales strategies you want to teach!

Your Go-to Guide For Planning A Great Sales Kickoff Meeting

First of all, what is a sales kickoff meeting?

You probably already know the answer to this question, but let’s discuss it anyway to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Sometimes also referred to simply as a sales kickoff, this is an event that brings all your sales people together and gets them aligned toward common goals. Done well, a sales kickoff will also provide lasting motivation that should carry your team members into a new sales year with enthusiasm and excitement.

Think of an effective sales kickoff as a less-dramatic, corporate-oriented version of William Wallace’s famous speech from Braveheart. By the end of the event, your sales team should be (figuratively) foaming at the mouth with energy, just waiting to go out into the world and make some sales.

For a large company, a kickoff meeting usually entails a day or two of activities. Smaller companies may be able to pull off a fantastic kickoff in just a few hours. It’s not necessarily about how much time you spend at the meeting; it’s about what you put into it.

Most companies host a sales kickoff about once a year (usually in January, or at the start of a particularly grueling new venture), but you can plan one whenever you think it would benefit your team to get back on track. That’s part of the fun of being a boss; you can do whatever you want! So if it’s mid-April and your sales team appears to have already lost their drive and cohesion for the year, go ahead and plan a sales event to help everyone perk up.

Why are sales kickoffs important?

Sales drive revenue. Without the lifeblood of incoming money, your company will quickly be in trouble.

Sales folks can make or break your business, depending on their attitudes, techniques, sales prowess, and skills. A kickoff provides the opportunity to get everyone on the same page toward company goals, train the whole team on the most effective strategies, and get them pumped for the exciting money-making that’s to be done in the coming months.

Better still, a fun sales kickoff (perhaps one in a sunny, oceanside locale or a wintery ski resort paradise) with plenty of team-building activities, gifts, prizes, and rewards is a powerful incentive for your salespeople to perform well.

You’re essentially showing your team that if they can bring in the revenue, you’ll treat them to a mini vacation on the company’s dime. Even if you stay close to home, you can still make your sales kickoff feel like a party (with some informational sessions, of course) instead of a dull seminar.

How do you plan a successful sales kickoff?

First, figure out where you’re going to host the event. Yes, your conference room is an option, but we’d encourage you to pick someplace new and different that your team will actually want to visit. A change of venue also sheds the habits, attitudes, and distractions that can come with a daily environment.

Think of it this way: Would you rather spend an afternoon under fluorescent lighting discussing sales techniques and then head home to your normal, boring daily routine, or would you rather attend a sales conference in a posh resort ballroom and then hit the beach for some cocktails with your coworkers?

Your finances may not accommodate a California or Denver corporate retreat, but chances are you can find something fun within a reasonable budget.

Once you have the location in mind, you’ll need to find a venue. Pick a place that can accommodate your team and give you enough space for any activities you’ve planned. If your sales conference is in a cool new destination, be sure the venue is close enough to some fun attractions in the surrounding area that your team members can squeeze in some time at the beach or an adrenaline-spiking zipline tour after the day’s agenda is finished.

Next, put together the meeting agenda. Before you plan activities, it can help to write out your specific goals for the meeting and keep them front-of-mind as you put together the schedule.

A typical sales kickoff agenda will make room for most or all of the following:

  • Training on new products and features
  • Demos and training for new technologies
  • Information about company goals and new initiatives
  • Q&A panels
  • Keynote speakers with expertise on specific topics
  • Speeches from executives and other company leaders
  • Discussions of strengths and weaknesses from the previous sales period
  • A celebration of any remarkable successes
  • A goal-setting activity where the whole team gets aligned for the next phase
How do you plan a successful sales kickoff?

The sales techniques you learn in Vegas don’t have to stay in Vegas! (Photo by Grant Cai on Unsplash)

In addition to these informational sessions, you’ll likely want to include some incentive for your team members to attend, as well as some activities that will help them get closer as coworkers and feel motivated to work hard for your company.

This is where team-building activities and enticing retreat destinations can play a huge part in keeping everyone happy, cooperative, and interested.

Here are some fun sales kickoff activities you can use to motivate your sales team:

Space Themes

The modern world is full of so many interesting technological advancements, it’s no wonder we see a huge number of “Blast Off” or “Take Flight” themed conferences popping up.

If you can lean into a good cliche and have fun with it, the space theme can take you all the way to the moon. Help your sales take off like a rocket, encourage your team to reach for the stars, or decorate your conference room like the ISS of Awesome—whatever makes your inner 6-year-old astronaut happy. This is a classic for a reason.

Sales kickoff meeting: Team unification activitiesTeam Unification Activities

Most companies have moved away from the “lone ranger” approach of having salespeople operate on their own. Nowadays, it’s all about being part of a team and working together toward common goals.

If your company is taking the peace, love, and harmony approach, it can be fun to plan some team-building activities during your sales conference. Choose activities where teams must work together—rather than games that emphasize individual competition—as a reminder that everything your team members do has an impact on those around them.

Sales kickoff meeting: All-out competitionAll-Out Competition

If your company cares less about holistic team environments and more about stoking rabid, energetic competition among the ranks, a highly competitive team-building activity can be great fun. There’s nothing quite like going Survivor-style against your opponents to jazz you up for more friendly workplace competition. Don’t be surprised if your team members decide on their own to have an office rematch in the form of who can make the most sales for the month.

Charity Events

Charity events have a special place in the team-building world. They have a unique ability to bring out a sense of friendly competition—especially if you choose an activity with some fun, creative design elements—while still reminding everyone of what’s most important.

Charity events can help your team build unity and competition as they help others and perfect their communication and teamwork skills. All of these aspects can easily translate back to the workplace as your team gets ready for a successful new year of making sales.

Sales kickoff meeting: Charity events

What about virtual sales kickoff events?

Many companies are still working remotely after the pandemic, and plenty have no plans to go back to “normal.” Other companies never even tried to do the typical office thing, and have been remote from the get-go.

It can be fun to pull teams like this together and get everyone in the same room every once in a while. With that said, plenty of people now feel that part of the appeal of working from home is that you never have to be somewhere else on your boss’s schedule, and you can always be home to take care of your family obligations. If your team has a lot of stay-at-home moms and proud basement-dwelling hermits, a sales conference that requires everyone to travel for a few days might be a tough sell.

As a leader, you can certainly feel out your team’s response to the idea of an in-person sales kickoff. If you plan it in a fun destination—think Vegas or Fort Lauderdale—your remote team might jump at the chance for a corporate-sponsored vacation, even if they do have to spend a portion of it indoors listening to the sales conference.

However, if an in-person event just doesn’t seem right for your circumstances, that’s okay. Sales kickoffs can be successfully done online. You’ll just have to plan it a little differently and anticipate a separate set of challenges than you normally would.

Keep in mind that online interactions provide fewer opportunities for your team to connect. This means helping them create a meaningful bond over the internet is harder by default. The education and training portions can usually be done easily enough, but planning the motivational aspects will take a bit more forethought.

If you’re in need of some ideas to help remote teammates bond, check out some of our virtual team-building options. You can customize and adapt these events to fit into your sales kickoff goals; just let us know your needs beforehand!

Sales kickoff meeting: Virtual beer tasting

You could also try sending each team member a small gift before the event. This can drive up interest, and you can use it as a small taste of future incentives to motivate them toward hitting their sales goals for the year.

If, during the planning process, you start to feel like it’s too difficult to fit all of the important agenda items into an online format, consider trying a hybrid approach. You can invite your team leaders and top performers to an in-person event with celebrations and getting-to-know-you activities, while the rest of the team brushes up on the training and informational portions with online sessions.

Remember, planning a fun, interesting event for your top performers in a desirable destination is itself a form of motivating the rest of your team to work hard and join those elite ranks next year.

Let Firefly handle the team-building portions of your next sales kickoff meeting.

You bring the expert speakers, training materials, and industry knowledge, and we’ll bring the fun. With our powers combined, we can pull off a memorable sales kickoff meeting that your team can use for inspiration and motivation throughout the next year. Firefly will even handle the venue booking, setup, takedown, and hosting tasks, so you can focus on the important stuff, like putting together impactful presentations and informative panels.

This is one scenario where our customizable event options really shine. Contact us and let us know exactly what you’re looking for, and we’ll be happy to accommodate!