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Three Ways to Conduct a Great Sales Kickoff


Take a look at the word “kickoff.” It’s charged with excitement, anticipation, and energy. Now ask yourself if your upcoming sales kickoff will demonstrate that or fall into the “just another meeting” category.

As a former vice president of sales, I can confidently say we held some great sales kickoffs. They were a combination of entertainment and education that made salespeople excited to be part of a great sales organization.

Here are three tips for taking your sales kickoffs from good to great.

  1. Establish a theme. One year, we experienced BIG growth, which was accompanied by BIG challenges in the delivery of services and products. The theme for that year’s sales kickoff was “Attitude.”

I started the meeting with a short pep talk about attitude and then introduced the main attraction, who was a legendary rock star. I told the sales team we were so strong about the power of attitude that we brought in the one and only Patti Labelle. OK, it wasn’t exactly Patti — but it was one of my sales reps that could sing and dance like her. She brought down the house with her rendition of “New Attitude.” I still can see the crazy wig, the sequin dress, and those fishnet hose. As she brought down the house, she raised the audience’s energy level. Salespeople were cracking up, dancing and singing along. Yes, they had a new attitude about a fresh new year of sales.

What theme could set a new attitude for your sales team?

  1. Add some humor. My former company was always great about reinvesting dollars to ensure we remained competitive. One year, that investment was geared towards improving warehouse systems and dramatically automating processes. Rather than just tell the sales team about the improvements, we showed them.


I put myself in a box and gave a tour of the new and improved warehouse. As the conveyor belt moved around the warehouse, I pointed out the automation that would improve efficiencies and deliveries to our customers. You can imagine the response from sales team members when they finally realized it was the vice president of sales conducting the tour. It definitely caught their attention while providing some good humor.

Think about different ways you can inject humor into your sales meetings. How can you add humor to some of the dry topics that must be discussed?

  1. Peer learning. In the sales training and consulting world, smart consultants know the brilliance is in the room. That also is true of sales organizations. I’d listen for great ideas from sales team members throughout the year. Then I would tap into these individuals to give a presentation at the sales kickoff. They would share better ways to sell, service, manage their accounts or unseat the incumbent vendor. My goal was to make my sales team – not my regional sales managers or myself — the company heroes.

It’s sales kickoff time. Make it a goal to have your sales team leave the meeting saying, “Now, that was a great kickoff. I’m really excited to be a part of this company.”


Colleen Stanley is the author of Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success, now published in six languages, and Growing Great Sales Teams.  As an international sales keynote speaker, she ranks in the top five and has been recognized by Salesforce as one of the top 7 influential sales experts in the 21st century. She is the creator of the Ei Selling® System, a unique and powerful sales program that integrates emotional intelligence skills with consultative selling skills. She has also been named as one of the Top Sales & Marketing Influencers from Top Sales World, Top 10 Women in Sales    Experts to Follow and is one of Global Gurus Top 30 Sales Professionals in 2018.

Prior to starting SalesLeadership, she was vice president of sales for Varsity Spirit Corporation. During her 10 years at Varsity, the company was named by Forbes as one of the 200 fastest growing companies in the United States.


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