By Jason Cunliffe
Vice President, Thought Leadership and Sales Enablement Practice
When it comes to selecting outside speakers for a sales kickoff event, the messaging is certainly important, yet it is only one part of the equation. Sure, you want to bring in outside speakers who reinforce the executive team’s directive, whose topics serve to emphasize and complement the sales organization’s overall messaging. Still, it’s critical to also consider speakers who can deliver in ways that stand out in the proceedings.
We all know that monotony is the bane of any meeting. No one wants to sit for yet another PowerPoint presentation after a litany of PowerPoint presentations. The same philosophy should hold for speakers. A lineup that features mainly quiet reflective speakers will have more impact if punctuated by a dynamic outside speaker – one who can take compelling content and deliver it in ways that are highly engaging to the audience. And the flipside is just as true – highly interactive and energetic sales leaders are effectively counterbalanced by an introspective outside speaker with a more nuanced approach. Whether dynamic or introspective, both types of speakers can be very effective when utilized within the context of a sales program. Keep in mind that engaging the salespeople in the audience will only be enhanced when the speakers are both compelling and varied.
When planning a sales kickoff event, it’s important to think holistically. The meeting should have an overall theme, and the keynotes, sessions and breakouts should offer a variation on that theme. While external speakers’ messages should absolutely align with the overall theme established by internal sales executives, their presentation styles should be different. Different deliveries, different tempos, different tones – all are effective in highlighting the overarching messaging while engaging the audience. During the planning process, it may be necessary to provide outside speakers with coaching so that their discussions fit coherently into the overall program. And in the same vein, rehearsing outside speakers is usually essential to ensure that their tone and tempo fits into the agenda.
The real value of outside speakers is less in terms of the presentations they deliver and more in terms of the experience they will provide. Their presence should serve as essential components of an overall experience within the broader context of an organization’s sales enablement objectives. The most effective speakers offer a different lens on the selling process and provide insights into the buyer’s perspective. They have a keen ability to relate to the audience and provide actionable guidance for the sales team.
Getting the most from external speakers is not a question of style over substance — it’s an issue of style along with substance.