A Sales Kickoff or “SKO” is an important annual event where the sales team comes together to receive updates on the company’s direction, learn about new products and services, and receive training on best practices. While individual salespeople benefit from an SKO to chart their course for the coming year, the SKO business meaning is even more significant: the right plan for the coming year can transform the business and lead its products and services to even more customers. A failed Sales Kickoff can lead to slowed growth…or worse. A Sales Kickoff is arguably the most influential event that can start the sales year with the right energy and mindset while reflecting on what can be improved and challenging the status quo.
In Forrester’s 2021 report, 61% of event professionals expressed challenges in keeping virtual attendees engaged — so you may be considering a hybrid or even a fully in-person event for your next SKO. Whether it be a Zoom conference or at an event hall, here is a checklist of common items to address when planning for your SKO.
Get People Excited
A successful SKO needs an appealing sales kickoff agenda to keep your team’s attention. A great way to create this kind of sales agenda is to involve employees in the planning process and ensure they understand the event’s purpose. An SKO should be a collaborative event, not a lecture
Have announcements beforehand
One way to do this is to share the theme of the SKO with employees well in advance and explain the context behind why it’s being held. Plan multi-threaded weekly communications through channels like Slack, Emails, and in-office announcements. Below are examples of what to include in the announcement:
- Venue — will there be a virtual option?
- SKO Sales Agenda
- Exciting Social Events
Survey employees on what to discuss
Before the Sales Kickoff, survey employees to learn about the organization-wide preference on discussion topics and type of training. This will allow for more open collaboration during the event, and employees will feel that their voices are being heard. In addition, surveying employees will help you identify areas where conflict or disagreement may exist. By addressing these issues before the SKO, you can ensure that the event is productive and positive for all involved.
Set Clear Objectives
Remember the goal of having an SKO
When planning for a Sales Kickoff, don’t forget the main goal: getting everyone aligned and excited about achieving the company’s objectives. An SKO can be fun as long as it remains purposeful instead of being an excuse to host a social event. Remember that this should be an opportunity to celebrate your successes, review your Sales Process, and look ahead to new annual goals. Try embedding such goals into your activities, like ice-breaker games to group brainstorming sessions, to promote a more cohesive and motivated sales team.
When not planned correctly, an SKO can quickly become an expensive boondoggle. Hence, a well-crafted agenda is one of the most essential elements of a successful SKO. The agenda should balance fun activities, educational sessions, and skill training. A step often overlooked is post-planning, which is to ensure the agenda is being followed. The agenda should be clearly communicated to all attendees so that everyone is ready to follow the schedule and there aren’t any astray. One way to do this is to have QR codes readily available at tables and name tags so that everyone can access all important documents instantly and digitally.
If you are having a hard time thinking about what to include in the agenda, below are examples of key sessions to help you get started:
- Keynote speech
- Celebrating Success
- Analyzing Problems
- What’s coming next year
- The Upcoming Sales Agenda
- Skills Training
Set the right mindset
A well-run SKO and sales agenda should be innovative, where managers and individual collaborators can bring new ideas to the table. An article by Salesforce cited how 86% of executives identify a lack of collaboration among employees as the leading cause of failure in a business. To hear new voices and ideas, setting the right atmosphere and providing a forum for innovative thinking are essential. Additionally, this type of environment will foster a sense of camaraderie and teamwork for the year ahead.
A successful sales meeting agenda requires a healthy mix of challenge and collaboration. On the one hand, managers need to be able to speak up and challenge ideas that aren’t working. After all, they have more experience with sales strategy and management. On the other hand, individual sales reps are the ones out in the field talking to customers most of the time. They have a unique perspective that can help shape a better sales strategy. The key is encouraging everyone to challenge ideas and to have a healthy discussion about what is right — instead of who is right. By doing so, you’ll be able to create an effective sales strategy that benefits everyone involved.
A theme can help a sales conference stay in the right direction while having a little fun. When selected right, it’ll also help attendees stay on track by relating events to the theme that likely remains in mind better. An SKO theme can be simple as a color scheme for name tags or an overarching theme for all the break-out sessions. A theme can also include games or activities related to the theme that take place throughout the conference. Thinking of taking it virtual? We have a ton of gamification options to make your virtual SKO fun, engaging and productive.
A theme helps to add structure and cohesiveness to a sales conference, which can be especially important for large conferences with many attendees and speakers. However, a theme should also be flexible enough to allow for spontaneity and creativity. After all, a sales conference is still a business event and should be taken seriously. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable too! The suitable theme can strike the perfect balance between business and entertainment, making for a successful and memorable sales conference.
Follow-up is often an overlooked part of an SKO. By surveying employees and getting feedback, you can gain valuable insights and show your employees that the management team listens. This feedback can then be used to help plan for next year’s SKO, making the process easier and more efficient. In addition, following up with employees after an SKO shows that you value their input and are committed to making the event a success. Take the time to survey employees about their experience and what can be improved next year.
Plan Your SKO Agena
If you would like to plan your Next SKO or want to make it virtual, contact us today. We’d love to hear from you. As the leading provider of in-person, hybrid, and virtual event technology for enterprises worldwide, we guarantee 6Connex has a solution to bring more magic and value to your event.
Want to learn more about planning your next SKO? Sign up below and join our upcoming webinar October 25th 11 AM EST.