How Marketing Can Host a Successful Sales Kickoff Event

At Pardot we recently wrapped up another successful sales kickoff event, and while it may be called sales kickoff, you can bet our marketing team was highly involved. This week of training and fun helps build momentum going into the new year, and at Pardot the marketing team plans, runs, and attends the event! It’s one of our best opportunities to connect with our sales counterparts from around the world and get aligned.

Our sales enablement team, a fabulous group of individuals dedicated to building the best sales organization in the biz, actually sits on marketing here at Pardot. Most days you’ll find them fully embedded with the sales teams in our various offices, but having them as a part of our marketing team allows us to make sure that our sales group is always up-to-date on the latest and greatest training, messaging, playbooks, pitch decks, and all of the selling tools that we produce. It also gives us a direct line from the field back to the marketing team, so that we can stay current on the challenges our reps are facing on the front lines. It’s a structure we landed on after testing several models, and it’s an important part of how we stay in sync.

That enablement team drives our sales kickoff each year, with the help of our events team and support from dozens of other contributors in both marketing and sales. They coordinate everything that goes into our three-day event, including the theme, venues, programming, and — of course — the swag.

Here are three of the key elements that helped make our 2016 Sales Kickoff the best one yet:

Host a Manager’s Day

New to the agenda this year was a full day dedicated to our sales and marketing leadership teams. Hosted on the first day of the kickoff, it was a chance to reflect on the past year, get focused on our new goals, and set the tone for what would happen over the rest of the event. The manager’s day included not only tactical sessions like business process updates, but also training that would help the managers become more effective leaders, like sessions on coaching and motivating your team.

Mix In Some Fun

No doubt about it, training events can feel looooooong. It’s easy to zone out when you are in a hotel ballroom listening to presentations all day. Mix it up by having interactive sessions and fun breaks built in. Some of the ways that we added a little fun into our kickoff event this year included a sales competition in the style of “The Voice,” a dance-off led by the marketing team (complete with pink feather boas!), and plenty of funny photos and videos of our sales leaders hidden throughout the presentations to keep people on their toes! Teams were also encouraged to create custom t-shirts or uniforms that showed off their own unique culture.

Pardot Shoes

Celebrate Together

A kickoff isn’t complete without some time to unwind, network and just celebrate the amazing year you had. This year we hosted an incredible banquet and awards ceremony honoring top performers across the organization. The inspiring stories of hard work and personal growth that each honoree’s managers and peers shared were enough to motivate anyone to make it to the top of next year’s leaderboard. Plus, it was a great opportunity for all of our sales team, marketing team, partners, customer success leaders, and other key team members to toast the year ahead and get to know each other in a more casual environment.

Is your marketing team tasked with sales enablement? How have you created your own fun, memorable training events?