Six Themes to Make Your 2021 Sales Kickoff the Best Yet

Use these sales kickoff themes to prepare your team for the new ways of selling in 2021.

Go ahead; ask the question. “How are we going to move our 2021 sales kickoff online?”

Past kickoff conversations focused on event space, food, entertainment, travel, and hotel arrangements. This year you’re probably thinking about hosting and video conferencing platforms to connect your remote teams.

But while the technical logistics of your kickoff are important, consider this:

  • What do you want your salespeople to learn?
  • How will you make sure their new skills stick?
  • How can you enable them to sell successfully in a virtual environment?

The reality is, your 2021 kickoff will look much different than your past events. It’s going to be a big change. But your sales kickoff can still be effective, even if it’s online.

Here are six research-backed sales kickoff meeting themes to help your salespeople learn, remember, and apply the skills they need in 2021 and beyond.

6 of the best sales kickoff themes for 2021

1. sales conversation skills

Too many kickoffs get bogged down by product knowledge breakouts (information) and fail to deliver the very thing the event was supposed to drive (behavior change).

But an overreliance on product presentations often comes at the expense of more buyer-centric activities—like practice and coaching—that drive more energy and better performance out of the gates.

Seventy-one percent of sales managers agree that the ability to articulate value is the biggest difference between high and low sales performers.

So, instead of cramming your kickoff with hours of feature-dense presentations that focus all on your solution, what if you helped them have more effective conversations with prospects and customers?

Train your sellers on the Customer Deciding Journey—a series of critical questions your buyers ask as they decide to buy from you and stay with you after they become a customer. Enable them to address those questions and progress opportunities by focusing on what buyers truly find valuable.

Get research-backed messaging frameworks for the entire Customer Deciding Journey in the e-book, Winning the Four Value Conversations.

2. customer retention

If last year’s sales kickoff was all about training your salespeople to challenge your prospects to win new business, this year should focus on keeping your existing customers. And customer retention conversations require an entirely different approach.

Corporate Visions research shows that using a provocative, challenging message with existing customers—when you’re trying to renew or expand business with them—will backfire. In fact, you’re increasing your risk of losing them to competitors by at least 10-16 percent.

Despite this glaring evidence, however, nearly 60 percent of companies don’t feel the need to tell a different story for customer acquisition versus customer retention.

That’s not good for your growth plans. According to Harvard Business Reviewacquiring a new customer is anywhere between five to 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one.

That’s not too surprising when you consider the high cost of acquisition. You might need to keep a customer account active for months—maybe years—before they become fully profitable. And these renewals don’t happen on their own.

For your 2021 kickoff, enable your reps to skillfully navigate and win more customer retention conversations.

Learn how to win more retention and expansion conversations in the interactive e-book, The Expansion Sale.

3. virtual selling

According to our recent industry survey of over 500 B2B sales reps, nearly 70 percent of salespeople don’t believe that virtual selling is as effective as in-person.

Sales reps say that participants tend to multi-task, there’s very little interaction, and it’s more challenging to build relationships when meetings aren’t face-to-face. But despite the vote of no confidence, most sales meetings are happening in a virtual setting. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Salespeople need to adapt their presentations to this new (virtual) reality.

It’s not just about a decent studio setup or using the chat feature to promote interaction. The purpose of your presentation is to deliver a message that your buyers will remember—and ultimately act on—after the call.

This year, equip your sales reps with science-backed virtual selling skills to build the right story, tell that story the right way, and motivate your buyers to take action.

Find out how to make your virtual sales presentations engaging and memorable in the e-book, Virtual is Vital

4. decision-driven content

Analysts at Forrester predict that 50 percent of all sales enablement teams will eventually report to Marketing. No surprise, since digital buying behavior and complex buying committees have pushed the role of marketing further down the sales funnel.

Research shows that the primary factor that drives decisions is memory. Your buyer interacts with your content in one moment, but they decide to act later on. If you want to drive buying decisions, your content must be memorable enough to stick in your buyers’ minds as they move through their decision-making process.

So, spend some time showing Marketing, Sales Enablement, and Product Marketing how to create marketing and enablement assets that are memorable and enable your prospects and customers to make buying decisions.

Get science-backed tips to make your content more memorable in our research report, Creating Marketing Material that Drives Buying Decisions.

5. executive business reviews

Executives make 80 percent of B2B buying decisions, and your sales reps need to build a compelling business case to get their attention and close every deal.

But after that initial sale, most companies don’t maintain the same level of executive altitude. Busy executives skip your business reviews. Project teams get stuck reporting metrics that decision-makers don’t care about. And that makes it harder to win renewal and upsell conversations later on.

At this year’s sales kickoff, teach your sales and customer success teams how to get executive decision-makers to your business reviews, and keep them coming back. Doing so protects the customer relationship and allows you to identify expansion opportunities based on executive priorities.

6. situational enablement

Sales kickoffs, whether live or virtual, suffer from the same challenge every year. They’re typically a snapshot of what’s important to the company during that quarter. Product launches, industry initiatives, updated sales processes get launched. Then you move on, fly back home, and your sales reps may or may not remember anything they learned during the event.

Moving your 2021 sales kickoff online gives you a unique opportunity to move beyond the one-and-done kickoff and move toward a more situational model for sales enablement. Getting beyond one-and-done enablement means you can address your company’s most urgent and strategic needs as they arise.

For example, you might align your organization around specific messages and skills at your kickoff event and then spend the following days or weeks reinforcing those concepts and skills with online learning modules and fluency coaching.

If you think in terms of sales enablement campaigns (not calendars), you can develop a faster, more flexible approach to training and enablement—one that doesn’t depend on saving all your good stuff for a single event.

Learn more about situational enablement in the e-book, Win the Moment with Just-in-Time Situational Sales Enablement

get specific with your sales kickoff themes

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that sales organizations need to remain flexible and responsive if they hope to stay ahead. Sales kickoffs about generic training and product certification sessions aren’t going to help your salespeople get better results in 2021.

To get the most out of your kickoff, focus on how you’re going to help your salespeople succeed in the various situations they’ll face. Focus on critical skills for sales conversations, virtual selling, customer retention and expansion, and make sure you reinforce those new skills and behaviors beyond your kickoff event.

Looking for more tips for building a successful sales kickoff? Check out our e-books, Why Your Sales Kickoff Needs a Shake-Up and Putting Your Sales Kickoff In Context.

Eric Nitschke

Eric Nitschke

Director of Product Marketing and Sales Enablement

Eric Nitschke is a sales and marketing veteran with expertise in written and visual storytelling, and a track record of helping companies break down complex ideas and offerings into simple and compelling stories. As director of product marketing and sales enablement, Eric develops launch strategies around Corporate Visions' portfolio of services, and ensures the messaging, sales enablement and marketing content is consistent and powerful.

Close Menu