Sales Kickoff Meetings Suffer from Lack of ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Components, According to Brainshark Survey

Structuring Kickoffs as Isolated Events Hinders Their Effectiveness – with 3 out of 10 Sales Personnel Rating Their Company’s Kickoff a ‘C’ Grade or Lower

WALTHAM, Mass. Jan. 16, 2018 Companies looking to drive motivation and momentum with their annual sales kickoff (SKO) meetings may be falling short, according to a new survey from Brainshark, Inc. Despite billions of dollars spent on the events each year, and hours (upon hours) of planning and preparation, participants note their kickoffs don’t always “make the grade.” In fact, three out of four attendees (74%) say their company’s SKO doesn’t merit an “A” grade, while 29% rate it a “C” or below – leaving ample room for improvement.

The survey, conducted online at the end of last year, contains responses from 107 sales representatives, sales managers and other leadership at companies of all sizes and across industries. The data shows many organizations take a limited approach to SKO planning and execution. That is, they often view the meeting as a single event in isolation, rather than a springboard for the entire fiscal year that requires sales team preparation and follow-up. Participants reported, for example:

  • No prep for reps – More than six out of 10 organizations (62%) don’t deliver pre-work to sales representatives in advance of their SKO, and 84% don’t conduct training in advance – neglecting to provide a foundation on the skills and topics that will be covered. Meanwhile, 74% conduct their product and skills training at the kickoff itself, consuming valuable time for work that could have been completed beforehand.
  • Little attention on retention – Following the kickoff, more than seven out of 10 organizations (71%) don’t deliver post-work or follow-up training to reps to reinforce what was learned.
  • Forget the deck – 75% of companies don’t record and share SKO presentations for future playback and reference. Nearly three out of 10 companies (28%) don’t even make presentation slides available.

These responses indicate that most companies are gaining only a fraction of the potential return on investment (ROI) in their SKOs, according to Jim Ninivaggi, chief readiness officer at Brainshark.

“A sales kickoff is exactly what its name implies – a kickoff or jumping-off point, and a catalyst for improvements throughout the year,” Ninivaggi said. “The stakes are high – especially for morale, retention and results. That’s why it’s so important to take stock of ‘before’ and ‘after’ elements, as they relate to the sales force.

“For example, rather than compete with various SKO distractions, it’s better to introduce skills and methodology training beforehand. That way, too, companies can maximize their kickoff’s face-to-face format for practice, application and certification. Similarly, with reps bombarded with information at kickoff, you need to have a knowledge retention strategy. This often comes in the form of follow-up details, training and tailored coaching.”

Sales Kickoff Wish-List

Sales reps and executives desired multiple improvements to drive better SKO effectiveness and ROI – again, reflecting a wish to not treat kickoffs as discrete events. Changes they’d suggest include:

  • Follow up on kickoff training with ongoing reinforcement – 62%
  • Make kickoffs more interactive – 61%
  • Follow through on using the kickoff theme and messages the rest of the year – 42%
  • Provide training and/or coaching prior to the event – 41%
  • Make presentations more engaging – 40%

Attendees also noted if they had unlimited budget and unrestricted planning power, they’d improve their kickoff’s guest sales-focused speakers (56%), motivational speakers (50%), venue (39%) and food options (23%).

Sales Enablement’s Role

As more organizations establish sales enablement programs, functions and titles (an 81% increase from 2016 to 2017, according to CSO Insights), sales enablement departments can – and should – play an active role in the holistic SKO process. Survey data reflects this engagement. Among participants with sales enablement functions at their organizations, 79% of those departments supported SKO planning and execution.

“Sales enablement plays a vital role in equipping the sales team to deliver value in every customer interaction,” Ninivaggi said. “So the department’s heavy involvement in SKO planning should be a given – helping the meeting drive its desired outcomes. But planning shouldn’t be done in a vacuum, and a well-rounded group – including senior sales leaders, product management, product marketing and event planning personnel – should also play a role in creating a successful event.”

For more information about Brainshark’s survey, please see For tips on sales kickoff best practices, please see this free eBook: “The Ultimate Guide to Sales Kickoff Readiness and Planning” (

About Brainshark

Brainshark’s data-driven sales enablement and readiness platform provides client-facing teams with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to perform at the highest level. With best-of-breed solutions for training and coaching, as well as cutting-edge insights into sales performance, customers can ensure their sales reps are always ready to make the most of any selling situation. With Brainshark, companies can: enable sales teams with on-demand training that accelerates onboarding and keeps reps up-to-speed; validate readiness with sales coaching and practice that ensure reps master key messages; empower teams with dynamic content that can be created quickly, updated easily and accessed anywhere; and use powerful scorecards to visualize sales performance trends and make real connections from improved readiness to increased revenue. Thousands of customers – including more than half of the Fortune 100 – rely on Brainshark to close performance gaps and get better results from their sales enablement initiatives. Learn more at