Making the most of your 2020 kick-off meeting

December 20, 2019

It’s that time of year again...annual sales kickoff time. Even with the late nights, long sessions and fear that sales will kick you out of the room, the once-a-year distraction can be one of your best sources of new sales and marketing ideas.

If you just embrace it and listen, the week-long pilgrimage can yield some marketing magic. Here are a few ideas on how to make the best of the meeting before, during and after.

Do your Pre-Work:

Stroke the sales ego by asking for their ideas on how to make the marketing team can work for them better. After all, their job is tough. Hubspot’s research indicates that over 40% of reps didn’t’ make quota in 2019. It’s a tough gig. Before you get to your sales meeting, ask top-performing and up-and-coming sales team members two important questions:

  • What do they feel like they need to know about your marketing plans?
  • Can you get some one-on-one time with each of them during the meeting?

Ask these before, because you won’t have time during the meeting.

Have Your Numbers Ready:

If there’s one safe bet during any sales meeting, it's that you’ll be asked about marketing's contribution to the sales number. If you haven’t had a formal interlock with sales to define this number, at least know what the benchmarks are for your industry.

The Sales Benchmark Index’s research states that marketing contribution should be between 15%-30% for new logos and 10%-20% for existing business cross-sell or retention (download a great tool for calculating marketing contribution here).

Defending last year's number is good, but aligning on marketing contribution and sales expectations means you can build and defend your future plans. You can’t justify marketing spend without it. Some of your best sales and marketing ideas will come from just knowing what you have to work with.

Your Marketing Ideas. Their Sales Cadence:

Good salespeople follow the leader. They all find out what’s working for the best rep, and try to mimic that behavior. Setting up time at the sales meeting to understand their sales cadence will help you ideate with your team on how to support sales. indicates that 61% of sales contact is via email, followed up by single call/voicemail (6%).

While looking for better sales and marketing ideas for 2018, why not set up time at the meeting to ask how your email programs can better serve their sales needs? Tuning your nurture programs to support sales’ efforts will make them more efficient (and help them win).

Align your Marketing and Sales Tech:

Nothing gets done these days without marketing and sales technology (like CRM, social prospecting, presentation tools, pipeline management and data/lists). Sales spends over $4500 per rep on an average of 5 sales tools per person.

Even if marketing owns the purse strings, your sales meeting will be a great way to ask how these tools work for them. You’ll often get somewhere between a mild yawn to downright hatred when it comes to technology. In fact, sales reps reported CRM tools being the most frustrating tools to have to manage, spending no more than 18% of their time working on them.

It’s not the tools' fault. The fault usually lies in the stack's structure and how effectively the reps received training. During the sales meeting, don’t ignore technology and how it can make your sales team more efficient and less stressed. Your marketing tech needs to align with the sales team’s stack in all cases. Make sure you have the conversation.

Bring Up The Competition to Generate Marketing Ideas:

One of the best tools I’ve used in sales meetings is a review of what the competition is doing, and how we can work to come up with sales and marketing ideas to combat our worst enemies. Performing some simple research in a tool like Moat, can help to show just how clever you’ve been in the last year. It might also spur some brainstorming with sales on new campaigns, positioning or creative efforts that will help them sell more.

Getting sales excited and aligned with campaigns and creative efforts can yield valuable partnerships when trying to sell ideas for a budget.

Get Some Customer Time:

If your team is planning on inviting a few select customers to the meeting, make sure that you get a bit of time on the customer’s schedule. Nothing is better for generating marketing ideas than talking to a real, live customer. If you don’t have any customers attending, make sure you ask your sales team for customer meetings, interviews and perhaps testimonials and case studies to fuel future marketing content.

We all know that WOM marketing is one of the most important tactics we can use to support our lead goals. Make sure you use your sales meeting time to help fuel future customer testimonials and use cases.

Create or Refresh Your Sales Community:

At the end of the day, this business is all about relationships. Building relationships during the sales meeting are only the first step to helping them help you generate better sales and marketing ideas. Keep the mojo going by creating a community of sales and marketing team members aligned with a single goal: more revenue.

Using a Sales and Marketing Slack Channel or encouraging conversations around some popular Slack Sales Channels will keep the ideas flowing all year long.

Creating a process to pitch new marketing ideas to sales in an ongoing fashion. It will help drive more alignment and, frankly, better sales and marketing ideas and integration.

You really only have one shot at these time-consuming sales kickoff events. By making the most of them before during and after, I think you’ll find that they have staying power well beyond the 3-4 days in at the hotel conference center!

Have any other creative ways to make the most of your sales kickoff meetings? Let me hear about them.