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Kickoff meetings are upon us. For some, this elicits feelings of anxiety and dread … for others, excitement and anticipation. As Product Management leaders, and assuming product has a role in the discussion (which isn’t always the case, but that would be another post), how should we approach the meeting? What role should we be playing? What do we want/expect the sales team to walk away with?

At a minimsales-meeting-cartoonum you should be seeking to align on the what (objectives/goals), educate on the
(product, vision); and motivate them on the why (make them yearn for the sea!). As I’ve been prepping for my own kickoff meeting, I’ve cobbled together a few of my previous posts, along with a couple of other articles I found to be helpful.  My hope is these will get you heading in the right direction as well. Enjoy.

Previous Posts – Thoughts/concepts from a few of my previous posts …

  1. Presentation Basics – Have a look at my PM as Presenter series of posts.  I cover everything from battling anxiety, to hostile audiences (preparation), to handling Q&A, to effective PowerPoint tips.
  2. Storytelling – two elements to this one, the first following on the last point above – insights from Richard Branson on presenting, and then a post I put together about being a Master Storyteller.
  3. Showing the Way – first, you need to understand why you do what you do. Second you need to be able to cast the vision, and finally make them yearn for the sea!

Article 1 – 3 Mistakes CMO’s Make at Sales Kick-off – Translate ‘Marketing’ to either ‘Product Management’ and even ‘Product Marketing Management’ and the result is some sound advice for how to be effective at the kickoff. Hints …

  1. Prepare prior to the meeting. You are essential to the front-end of the sales pipeline. Ensure you are being proactive about the targets you are chasing, and are influencing the pursuit of those prospects up front.
  2. Have face time with sales. At the SKO certainly to establish/strengthen the relationship and clarify the targets/goals. But then follow-up with regular cadence calls to ensure progress.
  3. Use the opportunity to validate the assumptions in your plan and identify gaps. What questions/issues did the sales organization bring up you hadn’t thought about? What adjustments should you make?

Article 2 – Top 5 Tips For a Successful Sales Kickoff –Aligns well with many of the points I made in the posts above, but a good read nonetheless.

  1. Prepare To Run The Sales Kickoff By The Numbers – really like this point the articlemakes … while many such kickoffs are focused on being motivational and educational, there is sometimes too little focus on analyzing and presenting past performance so as to create powerful takeaways. The numbers don’t lie … see my post Know Your Customer, Know Your Business for more here
  2. Share Strategic Focus and Big Corporate Objectives – the article shares the Yogi Berra quote If you don’t know where you’re going, you ain’t gonna get there. It then goes on to make the point your sales team can be more productive and will be more likely to help the company achieve these goals when they have clear direction.
  3. Include Training – this is actually more sales in nature, but I am a believer in repeatable processes and approaches… especially around the notion of solution selling!
  4. Inspire, Motivate, and Make it Entertaining – for Product Leaders, this comes down to storytelling.  More often than not, people won’t remember the specifics … but they will remember the story!  Again, make them yearn for the sea!
  5. Make Time for Team Building – for Product Leaders, this translates to relationship building.  Make sure you have a rapport with your Sales team, and that means not only establishing yourself as the expert for your business, but also earning their trust!