Although most sales teams will have a new year kick-off meeting sometime in January, few have planned them at this point.  It’s the end of the month, end of the quarter, end of the year.  Crunch time to close as much business as possible before New Years Eve.

Unfortunately, that usually means the new year’s sales kick-off meeting, although scheduled in advance, comes together quickly and missing several components that could have made it far more effective and successful.

Below are seven steps to create, manage and execute a better sales kick-off meeting next month.

1. Objectives
What do you want to get out of this meeting? What does success look like at the end (and ideally in the weeks/months after)? Think about what’s most important to you – training, education, morale-building, skill-building, etc. I’m sure we’ve all been in sales meetings (let alone annual kick-off meetings) that feel like going through the motions. The more crisp your objectives are up-front, the more prepared, more focused and more successful your meeting will be.

2. Components
Based on your objectives, what are some of the key blocks of time and meeting components you need? Think through your needs for instruction, training, general motivation, team-building, product training, vision & roadmap from the CEO, etc. What about recognition of last year’s top performers and awards? Don’t worry about specific agenda-setting and scheduling at this point. Just map out the core content components that will help you achieve your objectives.

3. Agenda
Don’t start planning with the assumption that you’ll need XX days. Build a specific agenda based on your objectives and required components. Be realistic about how much time the 2012 product plan review will take, how much time the CEO needs to explain a vision and take questions, etc. Plan for breaks, email-checking time, team dinners. Consider having time for the sales team (especially those who have come from out of town) to socialize with the rest of the company (or at least those in sales & marketing that they work with on a regular basis, often remotely). Build a specific agenda that makes the best use of everyone’s time and keeps things moving.

4. Homework and Preparation
What do you need each meeting participant to come ready with? Their own territory plan? An evaluation of their 2012 performance and needs? Are there certain documents pertaining to 2012 strategy, a book of white paper on social selling that will be discussed over lunch, and anything else you want them aware of or up to speed on beforehand?

5. Takeaway Materials
Build in advance the tools and takeaways each meeting participants will go home with, as a reminder of what they learned and tool to reinforce behavior moving forward. Could be a laminated overview of the new sales process, a short PowerPoint deck summarizing competitive updates and/or objection-handling messaging, etc.

6. Recordings
Plan on recording the entire sales meeting for future reference. I guarantee someone won’t be able to make it, will get sick, have a family emergency. You’ll probably also have staff changes or new hires in the next few weeks or months, who should have access to the same new-year materials and presentations.

7. Follow-up and Reinforcement
There will be new strategies, behavior and best practices launched at your kick-off meeting. How will you sustain and reinforce that in the weeks and months ahead? Plan on regular updates or reminders in your more frequent sales meetings and online/email updates. Recognize and reward those who are following new policy or behaviors. Your sales kick-off meeting isn’t just a moment in time, it’s not just a couple days and done. It’s called a kick-off for a reason. Make sure the time and effort invested (by everyone who organized and participated) echoes well into the new year.