You already know that an impactful sales kickoff event is critical for driving success. But what you may not know is: What transforms an ordinary meeting into an inspirational experience that energizes your team?
An exceptional keynote speaker makes all the difference. They provide fresh ideas, develop the audience’s skills, inspire leaders and team members, enable growth, boost morale, and show clients why your product is the best choice. What’s not to love?
But with so many speakers to choose from, how do you find the perfect presenter for your annual sales meeting? What key traits should you look for when hiring a motivational sales kickoff speaker?
In this post, we’ll explore the qualities of a great kickoff keynote, what to keep in mind when selecting your speaker, why empowering your sales team is so important, and how an inspiring presentation can get your reps excited and ready to crush goals.
Let’s discover how to select a dynamic speaker who will deliver an unforgettable motivational presentation that energizes your team, accelerates performance, drives sales, boosts ROI, and makes this your most successful sales kickoff event yet.
There are several important qualities to keep in mind while searching for the ideal sales kickoff speaker.
First and foremost, a great sales speaker should have real-world sales experience, not just theoretical knowledge.
They should understand the challenges and opportunities faced by sales professionals in today’s changing world, and be able to share their direct expertise and insights.
Furthermore, a top-notch sales speaker should:
What makes real-world experience crucial for a sales kickoff speaker? Simply put, you’ll want someone who has been in the trenches and who understands the nuances and challenges of complex products and sales cycles.
Many business speakers are just that – speakers. They don’t operate day-to-day in the world of sales. And if they ever did, it was a long time ago. When it comes to innovative and effective sales techniques, things move fast; look at how much everything has changed in just the last few years. Recycled, generic strategies from five or ten years ago just don’t work anymore.
Keep this in mind when planning your sales kickoff agenda. Look for someone who is a successful salesperson right here, right now.
Instead of bland theory or ideas that are a decade old, the right speaker can share valuable insights and methods from their personal experience, making their message more relatable, impactful, and relevant.
Another key factor to keep in mind while choosing a sales kickoff speaker is their capacity to tailor their content to resonate with your audience. The right choice will provide up-to-date industry knowledge, best practices, and insights that are directly applicable to your sales team’s work.
Many sales kickoff keynote speakers take the same off-the-shelf keynote presentation everywhere they go. Whether for sales conferences, dealer meetings, workshops, or sales kickoffs, they’ll do the exact same thing every time.
But what if that doesn’t work for your industry, or for the goals of your event?
It’s worth having a few exploratory phone calls with the person you’re considering. Ask them if they understand your company’s challenges and objectives. Get a feel for whether they know your field, or are willing to learn. Are there specific objections your sales teams continue to come up against? The best sales keynote speakers will go out of their way to customize a presentation that addresses all of these specifics and more.
After all, you don’t want a keynote speaker who simply goes through the motions.
You want someone who will offer the sales strategies that lead to true business growth, increase sales, align with your kickoff theme, and take your company to the next level.
The ability to deliver a highly engaging and impactful presentation is a critical characteristic of an outstanding sales kickoff speaker. They should be able to capture the attention of their audience and leave a long-term impact on their listeners.
After all, the ultimate goal of a sales kickoff meeting is to improve performance. An engaging and memorable presentation by the right sales speakers can make all the difference.
Some questions you might ask your candidates include:
You might expect that any keynote speakers worth their salt would say “Yes, of course” to all these questions. But you’d be surprised at how many potential speakers will run for the hills once you start asking!
Of course, the primary goal of a sales kick off event is to empower your people and motivate them to excel. But many organizations end up hiring speakers who will primarily benefit the people who are already in the top 25% of sales performers.
According to McKinsey, this is the status quo for most organizations – they’ve resigned themselves to focusing on their top quartile, expecting the majority of their results from that group – and take whatever the bottom 75% happens to produce.
What these companies are essentially doing is accepting sub-par performance from three quarters of the team. Why? Because they accept the status quo thinking that there can be only a few elite salespeople, and there’s not much that can be done about the rest.
This attitude is shortsighted and flat-out wrong. Companies accept the disparity because they accept the long-held but incorrect belief that only certain kinds of people are cut out for sales – people who are comfortable talking to just about anyone, who have the confidence to bulldoze their prospects or use bulldog techniques, or who can simply charm everyone they come across.
While it’s great that some salespeople can do that successfully, the reality is that organizations are missing out on a huge opportunity to see massive results from the whole team.
Let’s take a look at how the right speaker can get this done.
An excellent sales kickoff speaker should have the ability to:
When evaluating sales speakers for your kickoff event, ensure that the strategies they advocate will work for everyone.
For example, having a clear-cut, step-by-step sales process may be particularly helpful for the quieter or more shy members of your sales team. That way, they can rely on proven, prepared talking points, rather than having to wing it or trying to barrel past objections.
Another example is leveraging storytelling, which works incredibly well for introverts and extroverts alike. When you can tell a compelling business story about a client who had the exact same problem as your prospect, how your product solved it, and what the incredible results were… well, your product basically sells itself.
A good question to ask the speakers you interview is, “What key sales strategies do you plan to share during your presentation, and how are they relevant to all salespeople, not just the charismatic extroverts?”
Have you ever had a keynote speaker come and deliver some really useful insights and advice that ended up going nowhere?
In many cases, especially in big companies, rollout is a challenge. Once the speaker leaves the stage, the organization is left on their own to apply the strategies across the entire company.
This can take several months or even years, if it ends up being done at all.
Why pay big bucks for a sales kickoff and take up days of your team’s time, if nothing is going to actually come of it?
Being willing to aid in the rollout and operationalization of the strategies and techniques discussed during your sales kickoff event is vital for true success.
Ask your speaking candidates if they continue to support your organization after the event. Do they help with implementation, or do they walk off the stage, never to be heard from again?
A great sales kickoff hire should offer insights on tracking the success of the initiatives they discuss, allowing your team to evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies and make informed decisions about their approach.
By measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) and analyzing the results, your organization can:
In short, make sure that the person you choose will provide you with clear KPIs to watch.
For example, a business storytelling speaker may suggest that specific members of your sales team write three compelling customer stories (under the speaker’s ongoing guidance), and that the entire sales team can comfortably and confidently tell those stories by a certain date.
Ok, now that we’ve covered the meat and potatoes, let’s take a look at three quick checklists to help you on your search.
1. Understanding Your Goals
2. Knowing Your Audience
3. Logistics and Format
4. Content and Engagement
5. Post-Event Engagement
6. Budget and ROI
The task of selecting the ideal speaker for your sales kickoff event is pivotal to fostering success and empowering your sales professionals.
Here are the concrete steps to guide you in this process:
Prioritize speakers who have tangible, real-world sales experience. These individuals are not just theoretically knowledgeable but have also faced and overcome the challenges that your sales team encounters daily. They can provide unique insights and advice rooted in their own experiences, making their message more relatable and impactful.
Look for a speaker who will customize their content to align with your industry and the unique needs of your audience. This relevance is crucial for the speaker’s message to resonate with your sales team. The ideal speaker should be willing to understand your company’s challenges and objectives, and tailor their presentation accordingly. This customization can include addressing specific objections your sales team faces or sharing industry-specific best practices.
An engaging presentation style is a must. The speaker should be able to captivate the audience’s attention and leave a lasting impression. They should include interactive elements in their presentation, offer opportunities for immediate practice of new skills, and provide training materials that the audience can refer to later.
Prioritize a speaker who can uplift and improve the entire sales team, not just the top performers. The ideal speaker should be able to provide skills and insights that useful to everyone, from the seasoned sales veterans to the new hires.
The speaker should be willing to assist with operationalization and rollout of the strategies they introduce, to ensure these insights don’t just stay on the stage but are effectively implemented in your sales process.
The speaker should be able to provide insights on tracking success. This will allow your team to evaluate the effectiveness of their learnings and make informed decisions about their approach.
Choosing a great sales keynote speaker for your next event is a decision that shapes the future success of your sales team.
We’ve offered a detailed roadmap to navigate this selection, but the paramount takeaway is the undeniable value of real-world experience. A speaker’s firsthand tales from their sales journey can make their message resonate deeply, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and tangible practice.
As you prepare for your sales kickoff, prioritize professional speakers who can genuinely connect with your sales team’s challenges and inspire them towards greater achievements. After all, the objective of such an event isn’t just to tick a box, but to ignite a transformative spark that drives your sales team to new heights.
Interested in learning how Matthew can make your kickoff event an incredible success?
Visit our sales kickoff page for an overview of what makes him the best in the business.