3 Mistakes CMO’s Make at Sales Kick-off


Share on LinkedIn

Marketing leaders should feel great about having a solid marketing plan locked in. Deep down CMO’s know they won’t get past January without changing the plan. Requests from sales leadership will alter the plan. Proactively embrace sales kick-off to validate and generate momentum for the plan.

For most B2B companies the annual sales kick-off occurs in January. This is the first major interaction between sales and marketing. Don’t sit it out. CMO’s should be heavily involved to gain a strong start to the year.

The Top 3 Mistakes for Marketing at Sales Kick-off

  1. Reactive Order Taking – This happens when CMO’s allow their team to serve the sales organization through outdated sales support. This is done in the name of giving sales what they want. However, this approach misses the greater opportunity. What sales needs is a balance of prescription and responsiveness to their needs.
  2. Meek Marketing Involvement – Marketing staff participating in SKO meetings are passive. Outside of the marketing presentation there is little engagement. The marketing staff at Sales Kick-off are no more than multi-tasking observers. Sales team stereotypes of marketing are reinforced.
  3. Change Management Opportunities are Missed – Marketing personnel aren’t actively leveraging the sessions to collaborate. Sales field needs aren’t linked to marketing plan deliverables. Valuable collaboration time is wasted.

These approaches damage credibility and miss opportunities for collaboration.

World Class CMO’s leverage sales kick-off to build momentum for the year. They validate the 2014 marketing plan for the Sales Leader and CEO. They proactively identify gaps and adjustments required to hit the ground running.

This post provides marketing leader guidance for world-class Sales Kick-off (SKO) involvement. In preparation, download the CMO’s Guide to Impact Sales Kick-off.

CMO Impact at Sales Kick-off

Marketing must help sales by prescribing solutions to the biggest challenge faced by sales today. The role of marketing has changed significantly in the past two years. More than half the prospect’s buying process is completed before engaging a sales rep. Marketing’s role is no longer confined to behind the scenes support.

Marketing is now vital to the front end of the sales pipeline. Lead Generation involvement is an accepted reality. Equally important is marketing’s role connecting with a prospect early in the buying process.

World-Class CMO Leadership at SKO

The key to success at Sales Kick-off is deeper marketing team involvement.

The marketing presentation is a solid opportunity to have face time with sales. Use the time wisely to present through the lens of “what’s in it for me?” for sales. Put yourself in the shoes of sales leaders, managers and reps. Have the discipline to complete a Creative Brief to guide the presentation.

The largest opportunity for marketing at SKO is meaningful involvement throughout the agenda.

There are two key aspects:

Marketing Involvement

The CMO must be actively involved in discussions throughout the SKO. This behavior is first modeled by the CMO, and then replicated by the marketing team.

Select key marketing staff to be active participants in breakouts. This builds credibility with sales. Preparation in advance to set expectations is important to their success.

While in the sessions begin to identify individual managers or reps to tap for knowledge. Take notes of which reps you want to gain feedback. Express to those reps that you want to reach out to them in the future. This builds an informal expert panel, an invaluable communication link with sales.

Take action immediately following SKO sessions. Provide the head of sales with implications from the sessions. Later, formally circle back with the sales leader on key implications.

Require each member of the marketing team at SKO to formally report on insights. The insights can include validation of existing efforts or gaps to plan.

Leverage Unique Insights

Sales Kick-off is the perfect event to validate and identify gaps in key assumptions. Throughout SKO, look for common insights across multiple points of view. This is now your chance to enrich and sharpen buyer research.

The goal is to constantly improve the mapping of the buying process to the sales process. Listen closely to key interactions. These real life examples sharpen understanding to build and update marketing’s understanding of the buyer.

Greater context helps marketing to connect the dots on why things may have failed in the past. You will see common trends that increase the importance of change management.


View Sales Kick-off as a tremendous springboard to greater credibility with sales. Proactively increase engagement with sales leaders.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

John Koehler
John Koehler serves as Director of Demand Generation at SBI. He specializes in top of the funnel activities. John has extensive expertise in Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, Web Analytics, Search Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing, Social Media, Social Selling, Buying Process Maps and A/B Testing.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here