To bring sales teams together, increase employee engagement, and ensure team members are aligned on upcoming goals and messaging, innovative organizations host sales kickoff events at the beginning of each fiscal year.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply decide to host a sales kickoff and expect great results. Instead, you need a plan to achieve the outcomes you’re aiming for.
Keep reading to learn more about sales kickoffs and what you can do to ensure your next event is one for the record books.
What is a sales kickoff?
A sales kickoff is an annual internal event that brings go-to-market teams together to ensure everyone is on the same page and to increase the chances the organization accomplishes its goals in the coming year. Although SKOs are primarily designed for the sales team, they could include other teams, including marketing, customer success, communications, finance, and even legal.
SKOs have historically taken place in-person, but companies embraced hybrid and virtual sales kickoff events during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we begin to move past the pandemic, however, more and more sales kickoffs are taking place in-person again.
How To Crush Your Next Sales Kickoff
In a recent webinar, we explored five key ways you can ensure your next sales kickoff event is a next-level experience for all attendees.
1. Form a Partnership with Sales
As you plan your next sales kickoff, rope sales leaders into the process. Meet with them to figure out their goals and what their teams need to know and be trained on. By forming a partnership with sales, it’s much easier to ensure that your sales kickoff agenda aligns with the team’s priorities.
If you’re planning an in-person event, take advantage of being together physically. Provide ample networking opportunities so employees can feel connected with people they might not have seen for several years — or ever.
While you’re at it, cast a relevant, respected, and diverse speaker lineup. Your slate of speakers shouldn’t only include the C-suite or senior leadership. Consider what the audience needs and wants to see, and don’t be afraid of giving a chance to leaders not often seen on stage, including junior employees.
2. Remember the Human Element
If you’re planning an in-person SKO, you need to bring the human element and craft an engaging experience. After two years of remote gatherings, employees want to reconnect with their peers — or connect for the first time.
Include important company information and training at your event, but also set aside lots of time for fun. For example, at a recent Amplitude sales kickoff, attendees spent some time throwing axes at a target. Similarly, Workdays hosted office Olympics, which allowed teams to have fun and interact outdoors.
Above all else, create an environment that fosters connection. Consider hosting interactive workshops and providing dedicated Slack channels where everyone can interact. You may also want to hold coffee talks with senior executives in intimate settings to make leaders more accessible to the team.
3. Recognize Great Work
The happier your employees are at work, the more productive they are, and the less likely they are to leave for greener pastures. One easy way to improve morale and engagement is by highlighting your team’s best work and giving out awards to make sure everyone is recognized for their contributions.
Though this is a sales kickoff event, it’s also an opportunity to highlight all of the teams that contribute to sales, which includes folks from different departments. During the awards ceremony, use a dedicated Slack channel to continue the conversation and keep people engaged.
4. Optimize Your Budget
In today’s challenging economic climate, many organizations are reining in spending. As you begin planning your next sales kickoff with a more budget-conscious mindset, determine whether you need everyone to get together in one place or if you can use your company’s dedicated office space across several cities and connect each hub virtually.
With this approach, your venue costs evaporate, and you’ll also save considerably on travel. You also might decide that not everyone needs to attend the sales kickoff this year. Or, because it’s an internal event, you might not need a big, fancy production.
Whatever you decide, set expectations to ensure everyone understands what the experience will be like and that no one’s caught off-guard.
5. Ask for Feedback
Once the sales kickoff ends, that doesn’t mean the job is done. In many ways, it’s just getting started.
At the end of the event, survey attendees to find out what they liked, what they didn’t, and what their priorities are for the future. Use this information to build a more resilient event strategy moving forward and continue to iterate on sales kickoffs to make them better and better each year.
Unlock the Secret To Unforgettable Sales Kickoff Events
Ultimately, planning is the most critical part of the puzzle regarding hosting a successful sales kickoff. To learn more about putting on unforgettable sales kickoff events, watch the SKO webinar on-demand.
Also, to make the entire sales kickoff planning process more accessible and seamless, check out our free SKO Production Kit.