I'm in one of America's premier convention cities as I write this, having attended a sales Kick-off and sales enablement event for a major technology company. This event, like many prior events I have attend was a lot of fun and a great time was had by all.
My first sales kick-off was with Prime Computer in Sydney back in the early 1980's. I can still remember the hang-over, although I cannot remember much about the event. Fortunately I survived the excesses of those earlier times and have a healthier lifestyle and now I can remember what went on....mostly.
The most fun Kick-off's were while I was at MicroStrategy in the late 1990's. The CEO, Mike Saylor is an engineer and believed in taking everyone to Kick-off, not just the sales and marketing team, so everyone in the company would head to Florida and we would embark on progressively larger ships each year (including Voyager of the Sea, pictured) for a week of Rah-Rah, Renewal and Hangovers.
I don't know who was doing the recruiting at MicroStrategy, but there was a relative balance between good looking young men and good looking young women on these cruises. Most of the team were under 30 and you can imagine some of the fun that was had when the work day ended and the partying began.
Kick-offs are great events, but for the most part they fail to achieve their objectives in getting the sales team energized and enabling each individual to perform at a higher level in the new sales year, (so that they can achieve their higher quotas).
I recall most kick-off events were an endless stream of completely forgettable Powerpoint presentations, however the awards ceremonies and individual recognition were important...in my rookie year at Prime Computer, I remember looking up at the award winners on stage and committing to be there the next year...and I was.
The bonding, story-telling and relationship development were also important. Microstrategy used a passport system to encourage meeting new people – this was a great idea which broke up tight-knit country gatherings.
What was different about this kick-off event today was the level of engagement in new sales enablement technique for the whole sales, marketing and pre-sales teams....they will remember this event. This company has adopted WhiteboardSelling to enable the field sales and pre-sales teams to
- more consistently position the company value proposition as it relates to how buyers use the products,
- to engage buyers in a more compelling business vs. product focused diagnosis and discovery process,
- confidently tell their story.
Like most sales training and enablement events, not all sales and tech support people bought-in, but most did and they will leave the event well on their way to mastering their value-creation story to better engage buyers in the diagnosis, discovery and qualification stage of the sales cycle.