2014?s seven most popular sales kick-off meeting topics

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Sales kick-off meetings happen year-round, of course. Many companies do them quarterly, others at the beginning of their fiscal years. For those companies on a calendar-fiscal year, that time is now coming up fast.

Based on primary topics at sales kick-off meetings we’ve participated in recently as well as those being planned for Q1, here are the presentation topics most popular and valuable for modern sales organizations.

Productivity Skills
Few organizations put a focus on this, but it could be the single most important and cost-effective skill you develop with your busy sales reps. This goes beyond methodology and process. We’re talking about time management, email management, workflow optimization. These are non-sexy topics that are killing the active selling time your team has to build and close pipelines of business. A best practices presentation on work efficiency, coupled with reinforcement in the ensuing weeks and months, has become one of the most popular topics we see for sales kick-off meetings.

Needs Analysis Training
What if in the first call from your inside sales team, you weren’t allowed to bring up your product or service at all? What if instead you talked entirely about the buyer – their needs, problems, pain points and desired outcomes? Lead qualifiers across the country are increasingly doing exactly this, leaving the product demonstration and discussion until AFTER the prospect has first been qualified based on core needs that your company can address and solve for. It’s a different approach that can often be introduced effectively in a sales kick-off setting, then reinforced in subsequent weeks to drive fairly quickly improvements in sales-qualified leads and motivated demo requests.

Active Listening Skills
Many sales organizations talk about this, but few make it a priority. Whether you’re managing inside sales reps or a distributed field sales team, early prospect conversations should involve far more of the prospect talking than your reps talking. And furthermore, what the prospect says should be fodder for follow-up questions, customized responses and more. This takes precise, active listening skills that can be harder to execute than you think, yet highly valuable in creating motivation and interest once mastered.

Social Selling
If you featured a social selling session at last year’s sales kick-off meeting, a ton has changed between now and then. How your buyer is using social has evolved, plus the tools, processes & best practices your team can use to engage those buyers has evolved as well. Plus, a short social selling session alone rarely will drive the kind of ongoing engagement, usage and ROI you’re looking for. But it’s a start, and definitely worth a refresher for your team this time around.

Diagnostic Selling Skills
This is an evolution of course from consultative selling. In consultative sales, you’re asking precise questions to better understand what the buyer already knows. In diagnostic selling, you’re asking questions to tell the prospect something they don’t know but need to know. A visit to the doctor is a good analogy. He asks questions you can answer, then gives you a “diagnosis” that you likely couldn’t have translated to yourself. In selling, this is valuable such that you can help the prospect identify and quantify the cost of a problem they may or may not have known that they had. And that leads to demand, qualification and new business.

Content Marketing for Sales
Huge, huge opportunity now and into the future for sales professionals to become content marketing experts. This doesn’t mean they become active bloggers, but instead learn to strategically leverage the content created elsewhere in your organization as well as elsewhere in your industry to engage, nurture and convert more prospects into buyers. Countless sales organizations are embracing content marketing opportunities to accelerate and deepen the relationships their sales professionals have with both early-stage prospects as well as deals immediately in their pipelines.

Inside/Outside Sales Collaboration Best Practices
If your sales kick-off meeting is also that rare opportunity to get your field and inside sales teams together, take the opportunity to help them improve collaboration, productivity and results together. This often includes a combination of relationship-building and joint account planning activities.

Would love to hear what you’re planning for your sales kick-off this year too. What educational or training content is on your agenda?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.

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