3 reasons your sales kickoff is a waste of money

George Brontén

Are you headed out to Las Vegas in January for a giant sales kickoff (SKO) event with your team? Flying folks in from all over the world for a few days of inspiration, motivation, and team-building, mixed heavily with fancy buffets, alcohol, and schmooze?

I hope not.

Sure, it sounds like a lot of fun, and if you’re handing out free tickets, I’ll be glad to join you. Even better, hire me to come and speak, pay me big bucks to talk for half an an hour, have drinks with your best salespeople, and then kick back in my fancy hotel room.

I won’t complain.

But if this is how you’re spending some of your 2019 funds, I think you should know you might as well throw money out the window.

Here are 3 reasons you’re wasting your money, and what to do instead of an exotic annual SKO.

1. Benefits are short-lived

Some companies see a brief boost of productivity right after the annual SKO, but these benefits rarely last. Why? Two main reasons.

Without reinforcement, new knowledge won’t convert into successful behaviors.
George Brontén

One, salespeople forget anything they’ve learned from a motivational speaker or workshop within hours or minutes of hearing it. This is simply human nature. Without reinforcement and repetition, no matter how effective the material is, it simply won’t stick.

Two, it’s rare for the content of an SKO to be connected to the actual daily lives and work of salespeople and managers. More often, motivational speakers are highly successful individuals whose lives and careers are substantially different from those of the salespeople. While their stories may be inspiring in the moment, there is often little for a salesperson to take away and apply in a practical way to their jobs.

2. Expensive events are not effective for retention or employee satisfaction

In the immediate aftermath of a fun, exotic event, employees will often exhibit a spike in job satisfaction, warmth toward the company and each other, and perhaps even motivation.

These effects, however, quickly wear off if not reinforced by an organizational culture and structure that supports their growth and job satisfaction.

There are much cheaper ways than an expensive off-site SKO to nurture employee happiness. Better structured compensation, ongoing enablement and coaching for success, and a culture of growth are all better indicators of employee satisfaction than the amount of money spent on the SKO.

3. It’s an expensive way to build comradery… if it even works

Sitting at the bar talking about the keynote speaker can certainly foster comradery on your team. All those trust-building exercises and workshops can be fun.

But there are much cheaper ways to accomplish the same thing… and less risky. For all the times an off-site SKO extravaganza improved a relationship, there is another tale of the time someone got drunk and ticked off a teammate, or had such a good time that they got a little… too… friendly... with a coworker.

All that alcohol and all those parties and all that pumped up excitement may be fun… but it’s an awfully expensive way to build rapport–in more ways than one.

Want a better option? Try these 2 tips

This year, save yourself some money and do better by your sales team. Instead of an extravagant off-site SKO, use these tips to get a better ROI and build a better team that stays motivated and continues their growth all year long.

1. Keep SKO costs down

It’s okay to have an annual sales kickoff meeting. It can be a great time to announce a new strategy, changes in products, process, resources, quotas, compensation structure, and organizational structure. You can also use it as an opportunity to warm your team up to the training they’ll experience throughout the year, and help them set goals for themselves.

But you can accomplish all that without overspending.

  • Choose a location either in your own offices or somewhere nearby where transportation is not an issue.
  • If your teams are spread across the globe, use modern technology to have them join the event, or consider having separate kickoffs for each region instead of flying everyone to the same location.
  • Instead of a highly paid motivational speaker, choose speakers who align with your strategic vision for the year and who can introduce the major themes you want your team focused on throughout the year. Then plan to back up the training and information with ongoing reinforcement.
  • Keep the food reasonable and simple.
  • If alcohol is going to be offered, keep it simple, limit the amount that is free to the employees, and create a safe environment in which employees hold each other accountable for their consumption and behavior.
  • Look for local entertainment that is less expensive than highly touted national names. This has the added advantage of eliminating travel costs, and increasing local pride.
  • Make sure your workshops and trainings align with the strategy for the year, and consider having your managers or other capable individuals within the company plan and deliver them.

2. Reallocate excessive SKO spending to things that yield long-term results

With the money you save on your SKO, invest in tools and training that yield year-long and ongoing results.

  • On-demand training built directly into your salespeople’s workflow
  • Ongoing training for sales managers  to help them better coach their teams
  • Sales enablement technology that delivers training and customer-facing content in context
  • And that reinforces the desired behaviors and activities
  • And that provides analytical insights to help leaders support their salespeople better

Of course, I think Membrain is the right tool to give your team a long-term and ongoing advantage. We help your team execute on your sales strategy by supporting long-term behavior change and we serve up unprecedentedly useful analytics. Our Content Hub is the best sales content tool available, in our humble opinion, simply because it's 100% integrated to your salespeople's workflows.

Contact us today to schedule a demo, and see if Membrain is the right investment for you this year. And kick the extravagant SKO to the curb.

George Brontén
Published January 16, 2019, written by

George Brontén

George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.

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