Why your Sales Kick-Off Needs Improvisation


Tis the season for grand planning for sales kick off’s. Companies are trying to figure out what they can do to emphasize the company’s goals, themes and get their sales team fired up to move mountains and hit even bigger numbers in 2018.

Typical approach: Let’s get a bunch of speakers, actually let’s just get our top performers and leaders to get up and talk about how successful they are, how many years they’ve made trip and how they are making shit tons of money. Let’s show some slides of where we are now versus where we need to be, and yes please, lots and lots of PowerPoint and talking heads.

This sounds EXCRUCIATING and I cannot think of anything less valuable to progress and results, and I’d rather pull my eye-lashes out than sit through another sales kick-off that doesn’t offer me something I can use to be more successful.

How about offering something way more valuable and effective. How about empowering sales teams with ways to overcome challenges and be better at selling.

What organization doesn’t want their sales team:

  • Listening to their clients like their life depended on it
  • Practicing empathy towards their clients and their business needs
  • Authentically interacting at every stage of the customer journey
  • Collaborating with internal teams to be well prepared to represent the company from all levels and/or bring in the experts when needed
  • Negotiating with confidence
  • Navigating change and pivoting when needed with ease
  • Creating meaningful and engaging stories when presenting solutions
  • Shifting focus when needed and putting the client first

What is the Methodology?

This is simple. It’s a fun and engaging way to bring to light all the critical skills that clients deem most valuable (see bullets above) and creates a place for practice in a safe, low-stakes environment. By taking the same tenets used to teach actors how to improvise on stage (pretty much any skill you might use to successfully communicate with another human being) and applying them to sales interactions allowing participants to feel and experience them in real time through interactive exercises, you are showing and involving, not telling. In a lot of ways, the methodology is simply making it safe to practice skills we can all do, but we rarely, if ever, have a time and place to practice.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 
―  Benjamin Franklin


Why it’s Effective

Sales is improvisation. Think about it. Improv is simply acting in the moment with what you have in front of you. We are all improvising every day and we do it seamlessly. No one is carrying around a script or playbook to refer to in everyday interactions. Essentially, you only have what you have. Your reactions and behaviors are solely based what you know today and how you choose to react and behave in each moment. It’s not like you can stop a conversation with a client and go learn to listen or tell a powerful story and come back to them. You must use what you have. 

So, when it comes to sales and all the interacting internally and externally, it’s no surprise that being able to tap into the right skills at the right time can be extremely valuable. Not to mention, brushing up on the skills we all need more practice in, like listening, which ranks highest on the scale of things clients say is the most important trait a sales person can have. 

As with any art form or skill, from Karate to playing an instrument, you learn all the moves and practice and practice and practice to become great at it. To be great at sales, you must practice all the moves and be ready to use them at the right time under the right conditions.

Ditch the tired sales kick-off approach and offer something that will have true impact. Do something that allows for practice of all the skills that truly matter to your customers. In fact, just do it for your customers.

Kristy West is the Founder of BraveSpace an Applied Improv Facilitator and Speaker in Atlanta, GA .

Kristy WestComment