Sales Kickoff should not be an annual reset button. Instead, it should be an opportunity for your team to elevate their skills. Be prepared to maximize time away from clients to invest in your employees so that they can make their number.

You’ve heard that Sales Kickoff (SKO) is dead. How can that be? The holiday season is upon us, and soon, the books close on Q4. We will roll into 2020 with perfect vision. Your sales team will wake up on January 1st with renewed optimism and look forward to being flown to destinations around the world for what is essentially a three-day party. Many will show up late to the main tent sessions. Some will skip the breakouts because they were out all night. Others will be on customer calls closing the deals they couldn’t get across the line before the ball dropped in 2019.


Too many companies fall into the trap of over-spending on SKO because it’s a morale-building event. They believe morale will improve if there’s a famous speaker, a headline band, and free-flowing alcohol for the entire event. Those items are nice, and your team will leave motivated with a renewed sense of optimism for about a week. After the lights are turned out, and the party is over, you will be left to wonder, “Did I enable my team to make the number?”


It is time to start thinking differently. Instead of kicking off the year, accelerate your team to achieve their full potential. Think of this as an “Acceleration Summit” that provides the clarity and certainty they expect from you as their leader.


SBI’s latest research reveals common mistakes sales leaders make when planning their SKO and not just how to avoid them, but what market leaders are doing differently to optimize their ROI.


Download the Executive Brief Here


For 13 years, SBI has conducted a survey of sales professionals and what matters to them most. While the order has changed, the 4Ps of job satisfaction for sales professionals are indisputable. When planning your Acceleration Summit, these elements should be top of mind when thinking about how you can improve your kickoff event:


  • Pay: The cliché is that salespeople are coin-operated. That’s right, the A-Players are. They want to make their number and be recognized with cash and incentives.
  • Patch: Sales reps don’t like it when their cheese is moved. The expectation is that when they enter the year, they have clarity on their territory. A-Players have a plan and execute in their territory with purpose and discipline.
  • Pipeline: Demand for the product being sold is critical to sales professionals. If your organization is not generating pipeline and you are not enabling A-Players to create opportunities, you have a problem.
  • Patron: Often overlooked is great salespeople want to work for a great boss. Leaders who are control freaks, micro managers, or unable to coach reps to achieve their full potential will not retain A-Player talent.


SBI has found that in order to have a successful Acceleration Summit, the top 16% of market-leading companies do more than merely executing better than the rest. They have fun, but they remain laser-focused on creating the performance conditions their team needs to succeed. In addition to the 4Ps, their focus is also on the following 5 dimensions:


  1. Attendees: Invite only the right people to the Acceleration Summit. Move earlier on the C-Players and spend the dollars on hiring A-Players who will impact next year.
  2. Agenda: Orchestrate sessions with substantial interaction from the sales team. Focus on no more than three big bets. Define how to execute those bets with specific individual actions tracked weekly and quarterly. Internal speakers listen and learn as much as they speak and teach.
  3. Planning: Complete assigned pre-work to make the most of the time with your team. They leave with clear measures of success when they return to their territory.
  4. Speakers: Tell stories of how solutions generate value. Customers present and share the experience that they want to receive. Sessions are collaborative; breakout sessions are structured and teach best practices.
  5. Participation: Engage the entire commercial organization (marketing, pricing, customer success). All share responsibility in driving organic revenue growth.


To learn more, download SBI’s research here and flip the script. Focus your efforts on the 4Ps so that when your team returns to the field, they are continuously learning and stay motivated for the entire year. It is more effective than motivating them for a week because they went to a party and saw their friends.


Download the Executive Brief Here


To learn more, contact me. If you want to schedule a call, I’ll be empathetic to your situation. During that call, I’ll tell you the role of the sales leader is hard, and the average tenure is less than two years. If you want to get to work, join me at The Studio or I’ll come to your office. We’ll whiteboard a strategy, develop a solution, and create a learning environment that will enable your team to make the number. After the work is done, we’ll incorporate some fun into the event. At the end of the day, we’re still salespeople, and we like to have a good time.


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Tony Erickson

Helps clients outpace the competition.

As a Managing Director at SBI, Tony works with CEO’s enabling their companies to outpace the competition. He helps CEOs and their executive teams solve one big problem: as leaders, how do they exceed industry growth rates and capture share from the competition? For twenty years, Tony gained experience in consulting, business operations, sales, marketing, and general management. Prior to SBI, he worked with marquis technology companies focused on consulting and outsourcing; IBM, HP, Accenture, where he held a variety of leadership positions. At those companies, his successes included delivering a record sales performance of $935M, double-digit growth of a $350M P&L and building the fastest growing industry for two consecutive years.


Three years ago, Tony shifted his focus to smaller companies. With SBI, he has consulted with several Private Equity backed companies and served as Chief Operating Officer at a tech-enabled services firm focused on energy management and sustainability.


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