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Sales Kick-off Meetings: Are Results on the Agenda?

What will the next guest speaker at your sales kick-off meeting deliver?

  1. Content?
  2. Motivation?
  3. Entertainment?
  4. Results?

Tony Robbins.If you are planning, attending, expecting results from, or paying $5,000 to $50,000 (or more!) for the privilege of listening to someone talk for an hour or so, you need to think carefully before you answer that question.

As part of my discovery process for a keynote I’m to deliver at a kick-off meeting, I ask the stakeholders what results they expect from my appearance.  “For the team to sell more.”  “To get them motivated.”  “For them to have some fun.”  Sometimes all three responses come from the same person.  I ask what percentages of content, entertainment, and motivation they want.  Few have thought very much about it.  Over the years, as a buyer of these services, as a speaker, and now as a recommender of other speakers, I’ve learned a few things about this aspect of sales kickoff meetings.  Let me pass a few of these on to you…

Many kick-off meeting stakeholders (VP of sales, marketing director, CEO, event planner) think that they can have a sales trainer come to their annual event for an hour, three hours, or even a day and that person will deliver meaningful content that will have a lasting impact on their team’s  performance.  Most often this isn’t the case.  Sure, we’ve all picked up a trick or two from most content-oriented speakers we’ve heard.  But long-lasting impact on the audience?  Measurable results?  Those require behavioral change and someone speaking to you for an hour isn’t likely to effect that change.

Some think that a pure motivational speaker (former athlete, astronaut, president) will deliver a message that will impact sales performance through behavioral change.  (The “If my team gets up an hour earlier every day, they’ll sell more” type of thinking.)  Again, most often this category of speakers just can’t deliver those results for you.  Sure, they can fire up a room full of sales people.  I’ve been fired up many times by the best of the best.  But being fired up is for today and maybe tomorrow morning. It’s not for next quarter.

Motivational speakers have the most impact when their performance is integrated with meaningful learning and training in the support of behavioral change relevant to the attendees’ job performance or personal growth. It’s critically important that follow-up is provided.

When considering hiring a speaker for your meeting, set your own expectations properly.  Don’t extrapolate receiving business results from a generic keynote speech or breakout presentation unless it is either an legitimate knowledge transfer (such as an expert discussing the industry into which you sell), or it is integrated with your overall sales performance improvement strategy.  If you’d like to provide your team with an hour’s entertainment, some new things to think about, the voice of experience or a passionate call to action, that’s fine.  Just don’t expect any of that to have an impact on your bottom line.

Disclosure:  I regularly speak at events (see the “Speaking Tab” above).


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