When it comes to company-wide events, national sales meetings (NSMs) are one of the best opportunities to celebrate successes and strategize for the year ahead. For many, national sales meetings are the one opportunity to gather your entire sales force each year, so it’s important to be intentional with your time and ensure that each element contributes to sales team empowerment and accomplishing your goals.

Year after year, events like these run the risk of growing stale, so we’ve compiled a list of national sales meeting ideas to keep it fresh in the time of coronavirus—along with some of our top planning tips.

Purpose of a national sales meeting

Your annual sales conference will often serve multiple purposes—celebrating successes, strategizing for the year ahead, introducing new products, and mobilizing your sales force can all be included among NSM goals. Our recommendation would be to set goals for this year’s NSM early; the more time you have to plan, the more intentional you can be with each part of the event whether it’s in-person or virtual.

Make your next national sales meeting meaningful

Most national sales meetings include a theme, breakout sessions, videos, speakers, and workshops; the difference between valuable and forgettable comes down to intentional planning and strategy. Here are some national sales meeting ideas to make sure every part of your event is a success.

National sales meeting themes

It can be tempting to fall back on platitudes for national sales meeting ideas, but generally speaking, cheesy themes don’t generate buy-in. Instead, approach your sales meeting theme the same way you would with a campaign, choosing a message that can easily be woven into every element of the event. The key is to ensure that the message stays consistent, so review presentations, trainings, or breakout sessions to see that the theme is sprinkled throughout the various experiences for attendees.

This year, it would make little sense to leave the year’s events and the coronavirus pandemic unaddressed. However, most of us are tired of hearing phrases like “we’re in this together” so make sure to spend some time brainstorming messaging that would help attendees feel supported and empowered during these unprecedented times.

Breakout sessions

Breakout sessions are expected at events like national sales meetings. One way to make it worthwhile is to build lots of opportunity for interactivity. What makes a breakout session memorable? If you’re introducing a product, give participants an up-close and personal look at the product’s details for themselves. In order to keep everyone safe, consider trading a physical product demo for a virtual one via augmented reality. Build your breakout sessions with engagement in mind to avoid the notorious PowerPoint snooze fest.

Hype videos

Got a new campaign launching or a product to show off to your sales team? Hype videos are a great way to get everyone excited and generate interest. The best hype videos have laser-focused messaging and an energized tone. Related to the hype video are the longer, feature-benefit videos, while it might seem efficient to combine these two, we recommend choosing to keep them separate. After all, they each serve a separate purpose and will function better communicating the right messaging on their own.


After the excitement of a keynote speaker, theme, and hype videos, we’ve noticed that training can be left to the last minute at national sales meetings. Don’t miss this opportunity. There should be as much thought and intention put into training at an NSM as any other aspect.

To motivate this year’s sales meeting training sessions, consider ditching the printed pdfs (considering the format your NSM will take, hardcopies might not even be a relevant means to deliver training anyway) and opt for a modern approach with eLearning that embraces microlearning, scenario-based activities, and technology to engage your audience and makes them want to follow-up later.

Sales tool launches

New sales tools generate lots of excitement at national sales meetings. They’re great for getting your sales team to start strong on strategy for the year ahead. However, we’ve seen companies rush a sales tool build just to launch it in time for an NSM. Our advice? You can still educate and build lots of momentum around a tool before it’s ready for launch, and your team will thank you for taking the time to perfect it. You can do this with a presentation or a hype video designed to highlight key features and prepare attendees for what’s ahead.

Dos and don’ts at this year’s NSM

Do: Plan earlier and better

Since national sales meetings are high stakes and meant to send off your sales team in a unified direction, careful and early planning is the best way to guarantee success. Especially when it comes to productions like product launches or videos, planning can start as early as May–June (in which case, you might’ve already started working on deliverables for the big day); that way, there’s plenty of time to craft a high quality experience for your attendees. Planning ahead also leaves room for adjustments you may not be able to avoid (hello, this year!). If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s to expect the unexpected. If you haven’t started thinking about what you’re bringing to your NSM, let this blog be the sign you needed to get started!

Don’t: Try to combine everything into one resource

National sales meetings can cost a lot, and part of that is the printed collateral. It may be tempting to combine pieces for efficiency, but marketing materials perform better when focused on a specific target audience. And this year, you might need to think differently about what that varying collateral looks like, with people experiencing remote work in some capacity. Spend time with your team to plan out each email, pdf, slide deck, etc. beforehand—that way, each resource will be valued and support your sales meeting goals.

Do: Take advantage of insights from voice of customer (VOC) work

Throughout the year, as your team collects customer feedback for products and campaigns, don’t miss the opportunity to use those insights in your national sales meeting. It’s powerful for a sales team to hear straight from the customer what worked and what didn’t. Make sure to look through your customer insights throughout the year to find a few quotes to share in a workshop or training session.

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