Sales & Cinema: How to Craft a Movie Event for Your Sales Team

Mike Nelson


By Mike Nelson, Vice President, Sales, NCM Fathom Business

All too often, the national sales training meeting is a universally dreaded experience. It’s just another night in a hotel, additional time spent traveling, and less time to get work done. Instead of looking at it as just another sales training, wouldn’t it be great if your sales team looked forward to it?

Imagine this. At the same time, salespeople across the country drive to their local movie theatre, enjoy tasty snacks, network with fellow colleagues, and settle back into a plush cinema seat. After everyone settles in, the company CEO appears on the big screen and makes a live national address broadcast via satellite to local movie theatres. Following the CEO address is a presentation of the features of the new products on the big screen. After the event wraps up, the sales team visits a live product display before going to an impromptu local happy hour together only a few short hours after they arrived.

Providing a sales team with well-organized and informative sales training events can have a substantial impact on your company’s bottom line. To see the ROI of your sales team training, it’s vital that this valuable content is presented in a convenient and engaging setting, such as the cinema.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) saw success when it transitioned from the traditional approach of holding multiple individual trainings for retail sales associates to holding sales training events in 74 cinemas across the nation. Launching its new HP Photosmart Premium AIO with TouchSmart Web and hoping to ensure positive sales results in a crowded retail environment during the holiday season, HP was able to effectively engage its audience and reach them in their local markets nationwide, resulting in a creative and memorable experience for its retail sales force.

So, what are the key steps to planning a successful sales training event in the cinema?

Select a venue that works. The cinema offers a unique approach to a venue, as it’s a place where people are accustomed to focusing on what’s in front of them and tuning out distractions such as cell phones and e-mail. Those who have held events in the cinema have reported higher message retention, greater attendance, and bigger returns.

A direct-selling giant attracted tens of thousands of distributors to its event solely by making it easier for them to attend. Rather than requiring travel and time away from home for a destination event, their independent sales force was able to go to their neighborhood cinema to witness a company-wide training event, which was delivered live in local theatres via satellite broadcast. Attendance was better than ever, allowing the company to reach and educate a record number of key salespeople.

Confirm the details. To craft your messaging and cater to your sales team’s needs, you must ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are they? Knowing exactly who is attending will help you finalize your agenda, messaging, and content.
  • Where are they? You must determine your sales team’s locations in order to choose the most convenient theatres to hold your event.
  • When is the best time to hold an event? Depending on schedules and the type of content that is being presented, it is important to choose a date and time that is most convenient for the sales team.
  • What will you be presenting them with? Powerful content must drive your cinema event. Build your content based upon key takeaways you want for your audience. With cinema events, you have the opportunity to leverage an amazing sight and sound experience to your benefit.

Develop memorable and impactful content to inspire and motivate. You’ve heard the phrase, “content is king,” and for cinema events, content definitely runs the show. You want your sales team to leave the cinema motivated and ready to sell, so:

  • Use storytelling to illustrate your key points. No matter what the industry, product, or service, there are stories in every company or organization that can be told to help get the point across. The goal is to tell the right stories, in the right way, in the right context. Storytellingworks when training a sales team because it allows companies to dramatize their message, creating an experience that resonates with the audience, much like in a play or a movie. It will engage them with the human side of the brand, creating an emotional connection to what they are selling and the company they are working for.
  • Inform attendees of updated company background information. Knowing inside information about the company can empower and motivate a sales team. Feature a company-wide address by the CEO or executive team about the company’s strategy for the year, or highlight key successes from the previous quarter.
  • Introduce a new product. When a new product is launched, it is vital that the sales team understands the background information, all of its capabilities, and exactly how to use it. To stick to the saying, “Love what you sell,” the sales team first must know how to use what they are selling. Use the impact of the big screen to show your sales team the special features of your new product. Software giant Microsoft worked with Fathom to create a “virtual road show” in 25 movie theatres across the U.S. IT professionals and developers (an average of 1,250 per theatre) attended road show product demonstrations at their local cinemas, asked questions of Microsoft executives, and networked with fellow IT professionals. Microsoft named this launch as one of the best business-to-business launches to date, and attendees rated it an 8 out of 9 in terms of performance.
  • Inspire action. Provide action points to let the sales team leave the cinema with the motivation to focus on the goals you set for them to accomplish.

Drive attendance. While cinema events typically drive higher attendance than traditional events, you want to ensure that your sales team is excited to join your company for their cinema sales training meeting. Set a good tone from the start by taking a creative approach with the invitation. Here are some ideas:

  • Video invitation: Have the CEO or president of the company produce a video invitation to the sales team, addressing what will be covered and what the takeaways of the event will be.
  • Evite: Instead of sending a calendar invite or an e-mail to your sales team, design a creative Evite invitation.
  • Incentives: Offer door prizes or giveaways to all attendees. Play off of internal competition and host a contest for each department. Reward the department with the highest attendance rate.

When trying to get your sales team excited for their cinema sales training meeting, it is important to ensure that they understand what the goals of the meeting are and how it will help them enhance their job performance.

Now What?

You’ve gotten your sales team to the movie theatre, engaged them with relevant and motivating content, and hopefully helped them to be more successful in their jobs. There is one last step: Follow up. To ensure ROI, touch base with attendees after the sales meeting, reiterating the actions you encouraged them to take. Remind them of key points from the training meeting and share helpful resources to continue to stay on top of sales trends and industry news. If you’d like feedback for the next event, share a survey along with an incentive so you can learn about what they took away from their cinema sales training. Use this feedback to further improve your next cinema event.

Naturally, people go to the cinema to tune in and engage with what’s in front of them. Consider the impact that capitalizing on this event approach with your employees can have on message retention and getting your point across to a national audience in a time and cost-effective manner. Light up the big screen with your company’s content and motivate your sales team to action.

Mike Nelson is vice president of Sales at NCM Fathom Business, the home of exclusive, engaging cinematic experiences. Parent company NCM Media Networks connects more than 1,400 theatres through a joint venture with AMC, Cinemark, Regal, and other theater affiliates. Fathom Business Events reinvents corporate communications, offering cinema events in movie theaters nationwide. Corporations leverage the cinema network to communicate mission-critical business messages to audiences nationwide with efficiency, reach, and impact. To learn more about Fathom Business Events, visit