The optimal marketing agenda at sales kick off meetings should be solely focused on correlating marketing to revenue.
In general, marketing consists of three core objectives or “pillars”:
- Build and maintain the brand
- Help build better products, services, solutions
- Enable the sales team to get to and close more opportunities faster
While marketing owns and is responsible for all of this, it is the third pillar that is most relevant to a sales team and sales kick-off. Ergo, that is what marketing’s agenda at sales kick-off should be focused on.
The Optimal Marketing Agenda at Sales Kickoff – Know the Audience
Sales kick-off is a gathering of salespeople and sales management. The sales function is a straightforward function with a very clear, quantitative assessment metric – meet or exceed the number. Marketers must resist the temptation to showcase their presentations around all of the marketing activities that, while fundamental to building a great company, do not meet the litmus test of “what’s in it for the sales rep.” Because those activities typically have zero to little impact on the next four quarters, they rank low in importance to sales reps and as such will not be well received.
An optimized sales and marketing relationship occurs when both functions collaborate and the front-end of the sales process is assigned to marketing. The front-end is typically referred to as demand creation, field marketing, demand management and market development. This collaboration is most efficient and effective when there are clear processes, terminology, roles, metrics and communication. And this is what sales people want to hear about. To resonate with the sales team, marketing should spend their kickoff presentation time communicating and transferring knowledge about these front-end processes.
Simply put, the core focus of sales kick-off marketing presentations should be on how marketing will help a sales rep attain his or her number. That said, when an organization is struggling to make its numbers there should be an even tighter focus on this concept and virtually no deviation. Conversely, when an organization is blowing its number out each quarter there is room to include other marketing activities. The presentation can expand on how marketing provides qualified opportunities and increases the velocity of opportunities in the sales funnel to the other pillars of marketing.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing for Sales
Marketing must provide a step-by-step guide so that sales reps can quickly access the information that was presented at sales kickoff. This means when they want it, in a format convenient for them and in an easy-to-use template of where, when and how to use it. While the new assets, events, emails, scripts, etc. are great, what is a sales rep supposed to do with it when he or she gets back to work Monday morning? What were the messages, where are the templates, what was the sequence and how does the rep put it all together are relevant questions. If it is not clear how to use the content, it will become an obstacle for a sales rep to adopt the marketing investment. So make sure it can be consumed easily. In fact, go a little old school. Print a small, inexpensive highlight book (5×7 spiral bound) containing screen shots of the slides, links to related materials, contact people and explanations to provide context and next steps.
Obviously, it’s not feasible to expect sales reps to retain 100% of what is said or shown at sales kick-off. Sales kick-offs may span two, three, four of five 8-hour days. Using the most conservative estimate (2 days, 8 hours, 20-slide PowerPoint presentations) a sales rep will be subjected to over 300 PPTs – and in the five day scenario the number increases to 800. Plus, there are so many types of learning styles that it’s pretty much a zero possibility that when they return to the office, the reps will retain the knowledge of how best to leverage all of the marketing resources presented.
A Nurture Path Specifically Designed for the Sales Team
One approach to transferring knowledge is to move from “drive-by marketing” to an integrated campaign. Think about it — marketing leverages nurture campaigns for prospects and customers so why wouldn’t the same concept apply to sales reps? The idea is to build a nurture path to break the content presented at sales kickoff into digestible sound bites and “drip” them to the sales team. Using screen shots, PowerPoints, podcasts, video clips and webinars to reinforce the information presented at sales kickoff is an effective way to transfer marketing knowledge to sales.
Summary – The Optimal Marketing Agenda at Sales Kickoff
At sales kickoff, marketing should focus its presentations on the programs, sales tools, resources, people and processes that are directly tied to the sales funnel. Driving qualified opportunity from the top through the middle of the sales funnel requires marketing tactics that are ideal for a starved sales organization. Remember that it is not enough to show a series of PowerPoints highlighting the various marketing programs and resources that have been created to impact revenue. Marketing has to go the extra-mile and show the sales team – both new hires and more seasoned reps — how to use the resources again and again, in order for the marketing information presented at sales kick-off to sink in and be effectively utilized.