Gone are the days of marketing’s participation limited to a marketing ‘timeslot’ presentation. Marketing leaders are active participants throughout the sales meetings.   Insights derived from discussions are used to;

 

  • Sharpen marketing research
  • Identify gaps in the Buyer Process mapping to Sales Process
  • Validate Buyer Personas

 

This post provides marketing leader guidance for world-class SKO involvement.  In preparation, download the Marketing Pre-planning Checklist for Sales Kick-off.  This free tool helps you prepare by identifying possible gaps and points of validation.

 

The Old Way 

World class marketing organizations are actively engaged throughout the entire agenda of Sales Kick-off.  The old way of thinking is for marketing to have a ‘Slot’ to do a marketing dog & pony show.  This approach damages marketing credibility. 

 

Too often marketing leaders limit their participation.  

 

  • Single-threaded Involvement – Marketing participation in the other meetings on the agenda is passive or non-existent.
  • Key marketing personnel aren’t involved – Core team misses out on valuable insights.
  • Sacrificial Lamb – When marketing is behind on deliverables a sacrificial underling is sent to present at quarterly QBR’s.

 

These approaches can relegate marketing to a lackey position.  The result is marketing involvement only when a brochure is needed, or a complaint is leveled. There is a better way.

 

Marketing Evolution at Sales Kick-off

The role of marketing has changed significantly in the past two years.  More than half the prospect’s buying process is completed before engaging a sales rep.   Marketing’s role is no longer confined to behind the scenes support. 

 

Marketing is now vital to the front end of the sales pipeline.   Lead Generation involvement is an accepted reality.  Equally important is marketing’s role going across three crucial dimensions: 

 

  1. Content Marketing is essential to connecting with a prospect early in the buying process.
  2. Demand Generation campaigns are executed to insert influence into the buying process.
  3. Buyer’s Process mapping to the Sales Process is supported to increase close rates.

 

The New Way – Two Sure Paths to Meaningful Engagement 

The key to success at Sales Kick-off is deeper marketing team involvement. Most companies will approach marketing involvement at SKO with dedicated marketing presentations.  Just like an ESPN Classic 1994 Orange Bowl replay of Miami vs. Nebraska — this is still a good thing.

 

The formal marketing presentation is a solid opportunity to have face time with sales.  Use the time wisely to present through the lens of “what’s in it for me?” for sales.  Put yourself in the feet of sales leaders, managers and reps.  Have the discipline to complete a Creative Brief to guide the presentation.

 

The largest opportunity for marketing at SKO is meaningful involvement throughout the agenda. 

 

SKO Pre planning Checklist for Marketing

 

There are two key aspects:

 

1. Marketing Engagement 

The top marketing leader must be involved in the sales meetings.  Guard yourself from multi-tasking.  Have close at hand your marketing developed Buyer Personas.  Look for gaps.  Look for areas where marketing’s knowledge of the buying process supports discussion. 

 

Identify key marketing staff to participate in breakouts.  This duplicates the marketing leader involvement and builds credibility with sales.  Strong staff will rise to the occasion.  Your preparation in advance to set expectations is important to their success.

 

Close the loop with informal feedback from sales leaders after early sessions.  Coach members of your team to successful engagement.

 

Identify individual managers or reps that have a strong grasp of the buyer.  Take notes of which reps you want to gain feedback.  Express to those reps that you want to reach out to them in the future.  This builds an informal expert panel, an invaluable bloodline to sales. 

 

2. Leverage Unique Insights 

Sales Kick-off is the perfect event to gain deep insights.  Throughout SKO, look for common insights across multiple points of view.  This is now your chance to enrich and sharpen buyer research.  

 

What you will find are real life examples that validate or question marketing hypothesis.  Dive deep into each of these to understand exceptions vs. norm.    

 

Derive insights to help you accurately map the buying process to the sales process.  If you have already mapped it, then listen closely to key interactions. Identify where the interactions come into play in the buyer’s process.   These real life examples sharpen understanding.

 

Greater context is a natural benefit of greater engagement.  Marketing will have a stronger understanding of the challenges and pitfalls.  You will begin to connect dots on why things may have failed in the past.  You will see common trends that increase the importance of change management. 

 

Summary

View Sales Kick-off as a tremendous springboard to greater credibility with sales.   Follow this approach to increase engagement.  Post SKO, share with your peer in sales the direct impact to deliverables.

 

Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR’s) are equally important to embrace this world-class approach.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vince Koehler

Brings deep marketing expertise to help clients make brands successful and drive strong marketing return on investment.
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Prior to SBI, Vince served as the VP of Marketing for Integer and led e-commerce Agency of Record account teams at VML, a full service digital marketing agency. During his tenure, VML became a market leader, growing from 72 to more than 700 employees. Prior to VML, Vince was the President of Propeller Interactive, a digital marketing agency with clients such as Koch & Sprint.

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