Sales Kick Off – Do’s and Don’ts

Welp – bout to head back home from my annual sales kick off.  You know…the sales rep vacation for anyone who didn’t make club?  Power points, hotel sandwiches, late dinners, team building events, and awwww yeah…can’t forget the once-famous motivational speaker.

I see it every year – the guy who goes too far.  Has one too many drinks, makes a stupid comment, blows off the 8:00 am start.  Takes a left-hand turn down the career-ending cul-de-sac.  This post is dedicated to your boundary pushers…but wait there’s more!  What about the other gal?  You know…the lady that sits in the front row, asks 40 more questions after 5:00, and then has 1 drink at bar trying to suck up to the company’s brass?

Sales kick off is a big enough event that warrants a top 10 do’s and don’ts list:

  1. Moderate everything. This includes your speech, your drinking (if you drink), your dress code (especially women).  Going radical in any of these categories always spells trouble.
  2. Don’t participate in the rumor mill. Put sales folks in a room and everyone has an opinion.  If asked your opinion, tell the crowd your opinion is you didn’t sell enough to make your creditors happy.  It will catch a laugh and they will move on.  Loose lips sink ships.
  3. Your company has spent millions on this event…anything short of participation is disrespectful.  Others are watching.  Guaranteed.  Be on time, go to all sessions, and bypass the temptation to bug-out and take the early flight home.
  4. Win friends and influence people Dale-Carnegie-style. Goes without saying, but I see too many people ease into their comfort zone and only spend time with their friends.  Meet new people, ask them lots of questions about themselves.  Use your people skills fundamentals and work the room.
  5. Be a good human. I try to let character be the foundation of who I am.  Do the right thing when no one’s looking.  All of us know the names of the people who create and are around debauchery.  Don’t be on that list.
  6. Don’t show everyone up. This includes but not limited to; over-doing your group break out use cases, wearing a tie when everyone is in business casual, or try to play stump-the-chump with the product strategy gal leading the class presentation.  Don’t be the guy who tries to hold court in every conversation by “upping” their story.
  7. Have 3 questions ready to ask should you run into your CEO. If you’re caught in crowd with your SVP of Sales having a night cap, you have something in your arsenal that sets you a part.
  8. Use the opportunity to brand yourself. The personal brand is in-vogue.  It’s what you want people to know you for.  What better way to do that than SKO?  If you’re a hard worker, then show up to each session before anyone else.  If you’re the crafty, cerebral seller, then have a funny sales story ready to go over dinner that lifts your team up but shows your craftiness.
  9. Have I mentioned don’t drink too much? Oh yeah, already did.  Warrants saying it again.  More careers have been ruined from too much strong drink than anything else I’ve seen in my career.  Drink club soda, have water, or go back to your room.
  10. Be prepared. Write down your plan and objectives for the week.  What do you want to accomplish and why?  Who can help you achieve that goal?  If you need more brand awareness in your territory, could you meet your CMO and strike up a conversation about how budgets are established?  Could you quiz him on whether there’s ever been a time where extra money can be delivered for a territory after budgets have already been established?  Having a written plan will give you more purpose and you’ll be surprised how much more productive your 3 days will be!

I will often sit in the airport in Vegas or SFO and wonder how many other software sellers are heading back home just like me.  Wondering…who drank too much, maybe got an HR violation, or worse…decided to blow off keynote only to find out their HR Dir was taking role.  Have a great and product FY18 Kickoff!

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