Get Ahead of the Game: Tips for Planning Your Sales Kickoff Event

Are you planning your first sales kickoff event and feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone! With so much to consider, it can be hard to know where to start. To make your event a success, it’s important to get ahead of the game and plan as much of your sales kickoff as you can well in advance. Here are some tips and tricks to help you plan an unforgettable event that will motivate your executives, team, and sales force. Interested in getting ahead of the game on your sales kickoff? Let’s chat and get you ahead of the game!
Sales Kickoffs

Are you planning your first sales kickoff event and feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone! With so much to consider, it can be hard to know where to start. To make your event a success, it’s important to get ahead of the game and plan as much of your sales kickoff as you can well in advance.  Here are some sales-kickoff tips and tricks to help you plan an unforgettable event that will motivate your executives, team, and sales force.

What is "Advance Planning" in Events 

What exactly is “advance planning” in events and why is it crucial to your sales kickoff?

Advance planning in events is the process of preparing for the entirety of the project and all the logistical needs of the program.  Most importantly, it's about having a clear understanding of your goals and expectations and creating a comprehensive plan to ensure everything runs smoothly.  This includes everything from choosing the right location and estimating activity costs to preparing marketing materials and messaging. 

Sales kickoff events are an exciting time for your team, executives, and organization. These events set the tone for the year ahead, providing a platform to communicate strategies, celebrate past successes, and energize your sales force. 

To get ahead, you need to identify who will need to be involved and create an indicative timeline that maps out key milestones and deadlines. It's essential to consider areas where you have known blockers and plan accordingly to rectify them in advance through good project planning or create multiple contingency plans. The more you plan ahead, the better you will be prepared to address challenges as they arise.

So, why is advance planning so crucial to your sales kickoff? It's simple: without a plan in place, you risk overspending, missed deadlines, and poor communication with your team. These risks can lead to a lackluster event that fails to inspire and energize your sales force, and it can lead to stressed out teams that are operating reactively rather than proactively.  But with advance planning, you can ensure that every detail is thoughtfully considered and executed, resulting in a successful sales kickoff that sets the stage for a successful year.

Get Ahead on Sales Kickoff Planning

Why Getting Ahead and Advance Planning is Crucial

When it comes to planning your sales kickoff event, the importance of getting ahead cannot be overstated. Advance planning might seem like a lot of extra work, but it's guaranteed to reduce stress and create efficiency in the long run.  The truth is, your sales kickoff plan is just as important as the agenda. Without a plan, you're inviting your team to an unorganized chaos and reactivity. 

After years of experience, we’ve learned that team members and colleagues generally respond positively to frequently well-communicated deadlines. If you present your plans clearly, in a way that makes sense, and are specific with what needs to be done and when, people are more likely to take action.  

Constant, friendly reminders to colleagues about when items are due are also essential. You don't want to come off as pushy or demanding - that's not a good look - but most people are incredibly grateful for reminders.  One of the most critical jobs of an excellent event planner is regular, friendly, helpful reminders. 

As an event planner, it's important to remember to always come with solutions and advance a project as far as you can before sending reminders.  When you're planning your sales kickoff event, it's essential to stay on top of everything that needs to be done. By being proactive and thinking ahead, you can make sure that your event runs smoothly and that your team has an unforgettable experience.  By planning key elements of your sales kickoff ahead of time, you will make the inevitable last-minute projects and requests so much easier to accommodate.  

Sales Kickoff Production - Getting Ahead

Elements of Your Event that You Can Plan Ahead

As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. When it comes to planning a successful sales kickoff event, getting ahead is the key to success. But where do you start?  Here are a few things that you can typically plan well ahead:

  • AGENDA OUTLINE.  Start by creating a rough outline of the entire program; this should be done as a first step of advance planning.  Once you have an outline in place, you can clearly identify the key elements of your event and begin to prioritize the ones you can plan ahead.

  • LOCATION.  Location is one of the most critical elements to consider when planning a sales kickoff event. With so many options to choose from, we recommend evaluating the different locations available to you years in advance.  You’ll want to assess budget ranges for a variety of locations so you can make informed decisions when you have budget and management approval.  Trust us, this is one of your largest expenses, so you want to get ahead!  Now, when we say location, we don't just mean the four walls of the meeting space and your hotel rooms; be sure to consider the varying costs of food and beverage, activities and travel.

  • BUDGET & PROJECTIONS.  Budgeting and projections are another essential element of advance planning. Work with accounting to create indicative budgets and try to understand the contingencies that could affect your budget. The more you know, the better prepared you'll be when it's time to make important financial decisions.

  • AGENCY & PARTNERS.  Establishing agency and vendor partnerships is another area where advance planning can make a big difference. Ideally, you should establish these relationships months or even years in advance, so you have plenty of time to identify the best partners for your event.

By taking the time to plan ahead, you'll set yourself up for success when it comes time to host your sales kickoff event. 

Consider Travel Costs when Booking a Location

Now, let's talk about travel costs. We know, we know - it's not the most exciting part of planning your sales kickoff, but it's definitely important! When looking for a location for your event, be sure to factor in air and ground transportation costs. Sure, that swanky hotel in San Diego might seem like the perfect spot for your sales kickoff, but have you thought about how much it'll cost to get your team there? 

When considering locations, run an estimate of the total transportation costs for each option. Think about air and ground transport to and from the location, as well as ground transportation to and from activities. Also, consider the proximity of the location for the team to get on and offsite for other side meetings.   Don't forget to add all of these costs into your budget when you're presenting sales kickoff ideas to your executives. 

Sales Kickoff Activities

Estimating Activities and Team Building Exercises

When planning your sales kickoff, you want to ensure that everyone attending has an enjoyable and productive experience. One of the best ways to do this is by incorporating engaging team building exercises and activities into your event. However, before you start brainstorming ideas, you need to assess the costs involved.

The cost of activities can vary greatly depending on your location, so it's crucial to have a clear understanding of what's available. Take the time to research the top 5 - 10 activities in each potential destination before making a final decision. This way, you can determine what's feasible within your budget and choose activities that your team will genuinely enjoy.  Be sure to assess this in advance so you can choose team building exercises that will help to bring your team together and create a sense of unity.

It's worth noting that some locations may have limited offerings that fit your group, so it's essential to research this well in advance. Overall, estimating the cost of activities and team building exercises is a crucial part of planning your sales kickoff event. By taking the time to research the top activities in each potential destination and assessing the personality of your team, you'll be able to create an event that's both engaging and memorable for all involved. 

Estimating Gifting and Awards 

First things first, consider if your team cares about gifts at all.  This could be an awesome opportunity to “green” your event by eliminating unwanted or unappreciated items.  And you can check the CSR box by reducing waste at your event.  

If the theme of your sales kickoff warrants a useful and meaningful gift - we get it, gifts are fun!  If you're having a ski trip, for example, you might want to consider gifting items like personalized ski goggles or custom winter hats. Similarly, a golf outing might call for golf-themed gifts like custom golf balls or tees.  These elements can really make a difference in creating a memorable event for your team. 

But how do you estimate these costs and make sure you're selecting the right items?

Don’t be shy about asking your team what they like and don’t like.  Yes, you will get a range of answers, but you may be surprised by the clarity asking provides.  When it comes to awards, keep in mind that not only do they need to be designed, but they also need to be shipped. The further you're shipping them, the greater the expense. So make sure you're estimating every layer of cost.  

Overall Budgeting and Financial Considerations

It's easy to get caught up in all the exciting sales kickoff ideas you have, but let's not forget about the nitty-gritty of planning - budgeting and finances. Without proper budget planning, even the most incredible sales kickoff can become a costly mess. So, let's get down to it. 

First, draft a budget as early as possible to help you understand what costs to expect. List everything, from the location to transportation to food and beverage, team building exercises, and gifting and awards.  And don’t forget all of the fees and contingencies.  Once you have a clear understanding of the expenses, you can work with your finance and accounting teams to get an accurate budget range. 

Next, work with your executive team to determine the potential contingencies that could affect the budget. No one wants to have to scale back their sales kickoff because they ran out of funds, so having a Plan A, B, C, and D in place will help you pivot if necessary. 

Budgeting can be tedious, but it's essential to make sure everything runs smoothly. Once you have a solid financial plan in place, you can focus on all the exciting sales kickoff ideas you've been dreaming up. 

Sales Kickoff Branding

Preparing Marketing Materials and Messaging

We often see teams hold off on sending save-the-dates because they want all of the event themed branding in place, but this can be counterproductive in terms of getting your message out there.   We get it, creative departments can get backlogged and themes often cannot be selected until close to the event.  Work around these real-life delays by creating a save-the-date that is event-theme neutral. This way, you can get the message out well in advance and create excitement as you introduce the theme and your cool designs at a later date. 

To make your sales kickoff truly unforgettable, you’ll want to put some effort on preparing your marketing materials and messaging. You want your team to be excited and energized about attending the event, so save some time to jazz up your invitations and get creative with your marketing materials. 

Keep in mind that the earlier you communicate your event details, the earlier your team can book travel.  Booking travel well in advance can lead to as much as a 20% savings - who doesn’t want that? 

Successful Sales Kickoff and Team Alignment

Finalizing Logistics and Confirmations

Alright, it's time to wrap things up! You've done an outstanding job getting ahead on your sales kickoff planning and now it's time to finalize logistics and make some confirmations.  With all of the research and preparation you've done, this process will be a breeze. Grab your team, have your options at the ready, and start going over the budget.  As your team provides feedback, you can quickly plug in options, make adjustments quickly and make final decisions that much quicker. Trust me, it's that easy when you're super prepared and organized from your top-level advance planning! 

Start planning early, work with your team, and have contingencies in place. With these elements in place, your sales kickoff is sure to be a hit.

Interested in getting ahead of the game on your sales kickoff?  Let’s chat and get you ahead of the game!

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