The sales kickoff is among the biggest, most energizing events in the year's revenue cadence. It's a time to inspire and empower the sales team, align on strategy, train staff, develop crucial skills, and position the go-to-market teams for success in the new fiscal year.
There's high-profile speakers and customers, team-building activities, training sessions, awards ceremonies recognizing top performers, and a peek into the future of the business. Above all, the kickoff is meant to rally the team around shared goals and chart the best course to achieve them.
But what happens after all of the pomp and circumstance?
For revenue operations leaders, sales kickoffs are less meaningful for the sake of the event but rather represent the shift from spending three or four months wrapping up the previous year to embarking on the next—and keeping our teams motivated for the new year ahead.
That's often easier said than done, especially as sales teams battle challenging sales cycles and tackle ever loftier numbers. Keeping morale high through tangible, measurable actions is what makes our company-wide goals attainable.
Here are four steps revenue operations leaders should take after the sales kickoff wraps:
- Prioritize recovery without complacency
- Staff up your revenue team
- Make it stick: Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce
- Operationalize your plan
Closing the year is no easy feat, but your team just did it. Many team members put in 60-hour weeks to do so. Publicly and privately acknowledging the time, effort, and sacrifices your team invested is a start. But RevOps team members will need a chance to recharge and recover so they can help the team win in the new year.
That's not easy. The next urgent business priority always looms, and yet there's a natural human tendency to ease off the gas after a period of intensity. Q1 demands a balance between resting, recharging, and recovery, and kicking off the year strong with meaningful progress.
As a leader, this means setting reasonable expectations with stakeholders, setting aggressive goals with your team to get back into a more healthy work-life balance, and leading from the front to demonstrate it is acceptable to take time off.
After every sales kickoff, for the rest of the first quarter, I advocate for:
- Department-wide days off
- Taking time off myself and setting the expectation that my team members will too
- Ensuring our Q1 objectives represent a reasonable workload
Chances are that if you had a good year last year, you're now on the hook to have an even better year. You need to hire to meet your forecast and quota. After SKO, and often before SKO, I'm typically hiring for my own team or encouraging and supporting other revenue leaders as they staff up their teams.
The best revenue leaders treat meeting hiring goals with the same care and intensity as they treat their sales pipeline. A good sales rep works closely with their SDRs to push outreach and connection to ensure a good pipeline of deals they can work throughout the quarter until they close. Sitting back and hoping the funnel takes care of itself isn't how sales leaders hit quota or thrive. In my experience, revenue leaders who truly take ownership of staffing up their teams achieve better results for themselves, their teams, and their companies.
Taking such initiative is especially important when you consider today's challenging hiring market. Managers may have to get more involved in the process and take some unorthodox approaches to hiring, such as:
- Changing job titles to better reflect current market trends
- Creating a social presence
- Hiring a market maker—the type of person whose personality and reach makes others want to engage
More creative still are the leaders who understand how swamped the talent team is and take the initiative to reach out to candidates, schedule meetings with prospective teammates, and stay involved throughout the searching, interviewing, and hiring processes. That level of engagement is what makes revenue teams successful in the first quarter and beyond.
At a sales kickoff, you've likely unveiled the year's plans and roadmap, which often means you've thrown a lot of change at the revenue operations teams in a very short period of time. You may have also reorganized territories, added new team members, and expanded into new functions or departments. You have reset quotas and possibly revamped compensation plans.
Revenue leaders may be tempted to keep changes rolling throughout the quarter—and maybe the rest of the year.
My advice: Don't.
Leadership outlined the lessons of an SKO for thoughtful business reasons. Constantly changing and trying to advance plans too quickly risks sales teams falling behind or burning out. Give your SKO playbook time to take hold.
Instead, spend Q1 reinforcing what you've just invested so much money and effort in announcing. If you're considering some type of SPIFF, make sure the competition promotes lessons from SKO training. If you invest in more coaching and training, ensure it reinforces and continues the training you just kicked off.
Going deeper on fewer things allows the team to start mastering them.
So do your best to be the voice of reason. Don't do more new things in Q1. Do fewer things better and more often.
Remember that overarching plan that everyone discussed in SKO amid all the awards, demo competitions, and team meetings? Now, it's time to put that plan into action.
Executing the plan will take a variety of forms, including:
- Managing your forecasting process
- Building pipeline
- Inspecting pipeline
- Account planning in newly assigned territories
- Issuing and executing compensation plans
- Reporting on performance
- Refining tactics as the year progresses
Essentially, the end of the sales kickoff marks your company's official shift from budgeting and planning to doing.
This will look different at every organization, but at the best-run companies, RevOps teams are leading the charge to make the implementation process go as smoothly as possible.