Successful Sales Kickoff: Tips for In-person, Hybrid, and Virtual SKOs
What’s a great way to get your teams on board and aligned with your company’s goals? An exciting sales kickoff event (SKO)! A virtual sales kickoff makes sense when you have team members across the country. When considering a virtual SKO, having the right virtual event platform can increase engagement, enhance networking, and build and reinforce relationships between far-flung colleagues.
What happens at a virtual sales kickoff?
Virtual events are one of the best ways to unite everyone simultaneously in one place. A virtual SKO is an excellent opportunity to evaluate past performance, reward high-performing employees, communicate strategies, reinforce the company’s culture and values, educate the team on new products and services, and network. And don’t overlook entertainment: virtual sales kickoffs are an excellent way to build momentum heading into a new sales year, and savvy event organizers will heighten the excitement by playing games, sharing user-generated content such as TikTok videos, and playing an SKO-specific playlist during short breaks or when introducing speakers.
It’s important to define measurable objectives to evaluate the success of an SKO, and here are some virtual sales kickoff ideas and tips for achieving them:
- Get all participants interested: One of the best ways to get participants on board is by sending out a virtual sales kickoff agenda. An agenda helps everyone know what to expect and will keep your presenters on point when creating content.
- Create engaging content: The right engagement tools and virtual event products will help create and maintain excitement throughout your event. Make sure your agenda includes celebrations: Who sold the most? Who won an award? Who has a birthday? Which team accomplished a significant milestone? All these things matter. In addition, vary your agenda. Consider moving back and forth between session formats (i.e., presentation versus panel discussion versus networking) to keep people engaged. Be sure to schedule downtime and build virtual breakout rooms where people can take breaks and causally interact with others.
- Host webinars and panels: Each sales team has its strengths. Host webinars and panel discussions to showcase your subject matter experts, assess prior year sales and growth, and discuss strategies. Leverage event technology to enable attendees to respond to polls and ask questions in real-time. You can also schedule open discussions or a Q and A and invite the CEO to answer questions about the company or the head of product development about new products. If your subject matter experts aren’t available live, ask them to pre-record their reflections and then use the recording to spark a live discussion.
- Hold networking sessions: Networking allows your team members to meet new people, have their own discussions, and form new relationships.
- Celebrate with an awards ceremony: As suggested earlier, make time to celebrate! Acknowledging accomplishments brings the team together and reinforces a culture of recognition. You can even pre-record presentations and acceptance speeches and make them available on demand for easy sharing.
Going hybrid with your sales kickoff?
Sales kickoffs don’t have to be entirely virtual. Hybrid events can be just as successful, if not more! Since they help cater to individual participants’ needs, event tech integrations will play a significant role in the success of a hybrid event.
When considering a hybrid sales kickoff, here are a few things to consider:
- Budget: Set an appropriate budget to ensure you can cover everything. For example, if you have to ship swag to remote participants, ensure you’ve accounted for the shipping costs in your budget. You’ll also need to consider whether there are any additional costs associated with your virtual event platform to integrate virtual and remote experiences.
- Platform: The virtual sales kickoff platform you choose is crucial. Make sure the tools used to stimulate engagement online can also be rolled out to in-person audiences. For example, presenters can encourage physical and digital audience interactivity by using QR codes that drive to polls and surveys throughout a presentation. Or promote the use of apps that work on both desktop and mobile to facilitate content engagement and encourage participants to network. Many SKO organizers also gamify the experience for virtual and in-person attendees, offering prizes or other rewards for engagement.
- Digital tools: Best practice is to map the attendee and in-person SKO experiences and then identify ways for technology to connect — and augment — the two. Consider what platform features you need to pull off a hybrid experience. For example, should your virtual attendees have customized avatars? Do you want live polling or chat capabilities for in-person and remote audiences? Do you need virtual breakout rooms that are accessible for in-person attendees as well? Does the platform have gamification for both in-person and remote participants? You should also be able to customize your virtual platform to match your company branding.
- Gamification: Have fun! If you decide to go hybrid for your next SKO, consider all the options for implementing gamification to increase your engagement. Some examples of engagement opportunities are trivia questions, scavenger hunts, contests, and more! Reap all the benefits of including a well-implemented gamification strategy to engage your employees, encourage team-building, and increase overall productivity.
In-Person Sales Kickoffs
If you’re choosing to host your SKO in person this year, remember that planning in advance is key. If you’re inviting speakers, customers, and industry thought leaders to present in person, you want to give everyone as much lead time as possible to align calendars and arrange travel. Here are some tips to make end-to-end planning easy:
- “Chunk” your agenda: From pricing… to product demos… to sales enablement tools… to marketing messaging, there’s a lot to cover in an SKO, and it can be challenging to sit at attention and stay “on” in a multi-day, in-person business meeting. Therefore, consider breaking your agenda into digestible chunks. For example, perhaps you spend the morning on industry trends and product positioning and the afternoon on Salesforce updates and training. Be sure to also pepper frequent breaks into the agenda, so attendees have time to respond to emails, return phone calls, stretch their legs, and “turn off” for a few minutes.
- Keep it real: Your sales team has one goal: to sell your products and/or services. They must believe in what they’re selling, so invite a customer (or many) to your sales kickoff to present their use cases, participate in a Q&A, share an overview of their roles and responsibilities, and/or discuss their industries’ challenges and trends. Be sure to include cross-functional teams such as your executive, support, and/or account management teams as you plan. You want to ensure you give your customers every reason to join your SKO. These internal stakeholders can schedule additional meetings specific to the customers’ accounts, further building the case for travel and participation.
- Make it interactive: Try to avoid speaking to your attendees for extended periods. Instead, invite them to participate by role-playing or scheduling small break-out sessions to complete collaborative tasks.
- Play games: Sales are competitive by nature, so go ahead and introduce some competition into your SKO. Think of creative activities that encourage your attendees to engage with the content you’re presenting in a way that feels like a game. For example, you could host a daily quiz and create an SKO leaderboard. Whoever has the highest score could win some swag. Or you could host a “Jeopardy” style game that encourages your reps to recall new product features or value propositions.
- Don’t forget the technology: Just because your SKO takes place in person doesn’t mean technology can’t play a role. For example, before your event, you can send digital surveys to identify attendees’ knowledge gaps and tailor your content accordingly. During your sessions, you can ask your attendees to participate in live polls using their smartphones. You can even create an app for your SKO to help attendees keep track of the agenda
Your sales kickoff agenda should be a celebration that aligns sales teams to organization goals and promotes collaboration and camaraderie. Make the most of it by leveraging state-of-the-art features in an all-in-one virtual event platform.
Learn More about the 6Connex Platform
For a successful sales kickoff, look no further! 6Connex’s cloud-based product portfolio includes event management tools, in-person event apps, virtual venues, webinars, learning management, and more. To learn more about how to hold an SKO in any format, 6Connex can help. Request a virtual event platform demo today.