SKO stands for Sales Kickoff. A SKO is an annual event that is designed to bring your entire sales team together to ensure that everyone is motivated, determined, and on the same page with company goals and sales expectations for the new fiscal year. Typically, at a SKO, you will be discussing your purpose, top strategies for success, best practices, and any new products, services, or updates that your sales team needs to know to be successful. This is also a great opportunity to generate some new sales and staff training materials when you work with the right experiential events partner.
Here at OVATION, we have lots of practice with our array of clients that have taught us what gets a sales team engaged and what does not. We want to help you and your sales team get the best success and sales ratings possible, so we have put together a guide on how to plan for a successful sales kickoff event (SKO).
#1 GUIDE FOR A SUCCESSFUL SALES KICKOFF EVENT
Start Out By Defining Your Objectives & Sales Kickoff Theme
First things first, you want to get together with your planning team for the event and make sure that you have your key objectives aligned with your company strategy for the new year. Some questions you can ask yourself and your event planning team to get the ball rolling are:
- What is our main goal for this year, what do we want to accomplish, what is our vision?
- What should the theme for this event be that aligns with our goals and objectives?
- What new products/services or changes are we wanting to emphasis at this event to get the team excited?
- What do we want our sales team to be thinking about at this event?
- How are we going to measure our success, not only of the event but our success throughout the year?
- How are we going to keep attendees interested and energized whether in-person or virtual?
Create An Agenda For Your Sales Kickoff Event
It’s important to have a day-by-day agenda set into place to make sure the event goes as smoothly as possible. Show your sales team that they are learning from the most successful people in your organization. You can relay this by including personal success stories in your agenda. Personalize the event with these stories and include panels for Q&A sessions to allow for even further discussion and personalized interaction with the attendees.
Including tactical training sessions should also be something to consider including in your agenda. You want to show that there is always going to be more to learn and that you are the thought leaders of your industry. Feed your sales team with the newest insights, techniques, and practices that will lead them to the same level of success that you have achieved. Be sure to perform these training sessions with high-level content and supporting technology throughout your entire sales kickoff event.
Allocate time during the sales kickoff event for networking. Allow your sales team to get to know each other, feel comfortable, and learn from each other. You want your sales team to be confident coming to other individuals on the team when they have questions, concerns, or doubts. The relationships that can be built during networking are irreplaceable. This can be done with team-building exercises, breakout sessions, happy hour events, or even planned dinners.
When Making Plans For The Upcoming Year, Allow Your Team To Be Involved
Allowing your team to pitch ideas for success with your current sales goals and objectives for the new year is a great way to keep them involved, interested, and build trustworthy relationships with everyone. This creates “buy-in” from your team and can create an even more successful SKO event and sales year! Remember: great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. Within any company, employees want to feel like their ideas will be heard and taken into consideration. Including those ideas in your sales kickoff event is the perfect way to prove you care about what they have to say and aren’t just focused on them listening to what you have to say.
Promote The Sales Kickoff Event To Get Your Sales Team Excited
Give your sales team a sneak peek at what they can expect at your sales kickoff event. You want everyone to be prepared and excited for the big event you have planned. You can send them some pre-work packets that they can fill out before the day of the event, offer the tentative agenda, and useful materials. If there is going to be a big, exciting announcement – tease it to get them intrigued.
COMMON MISTAKES MADE DURING A SALES KICKOFF EVENT
Focusing Too Much On The Event & Not The Purpose
One of the most common mistakes made at sales kickoff events is focusing too much on the event itself and not on the purpose. You want to make sure that your team is informed about the main purpose of the event. This can be done by clearly defining the goals and objectives of your upcoming year. Telling your staff the “why” it is such an important goal and what benefits and positive outcomes they can look forward to if you achieve these goals. Make sure that you are including speakers who are thought leaders of your industry that can share motivating personal stories of how they have achieved goals in the past such as the ones you have set into place for the following year. You can make these goals and objectives clear through fun activities as well.
Lacking Interest For Every Individual At The Event
It is important in a sales kickoff event to make sure that each individual feels included. You can accomplish this by including them in conversations, having Q&A sessions, breaking out into breakout rooms where each group is able to talk with each other and a top professional at your company. You also want to include time for networking with lunches, dinners, and activities that make each individual at the event feel special, included, and that their input on how to achieve your newest goals is being heard and taken into account for the upcoming year.
Not Preparing Pre & Post SKO Activities
You want to make sure that your attendees feel prepared from the beginning, and that means before the event even begins. Send out some pre-SKO activities that they can work on and bring to the event. These items that you send out can provide sneak peeks of what the event will entail and give you something to go over in groups at the event itself. Your attendees shouldn’t stop thinking about the purpose and sales goals when the event physically ends, so it is good to send them home with some post-SKO activities to keep them involved. This will give them a chance to take what they have learned at the event and put it into action. Allowing individuals to think further on the topics you discussed and provide you with feedback and ideas is another way to retain interest.
Only Focusing On The Sales Approach
When you strictly focus on sales at a sales kickoff event, it can feel a little stuffy. You want these events to feel light and fun so that individuals can be excited and look forward to them annually. Be sure to include “getting to know you” activities to allow your team to truly get to know each other and to get to know you better. Including time for breaks, networking, and food are other great ways to break up the sales talk.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SALES KICKOFF EVENTS
Q: What Should A Sales Kickoff Meeting Include?
A: Sales kickoff meetings should be inspirational and motivational. You want to get your team excited about the goals you have set in place for the new year. Including breakout sessions, you can celebrate employees and provide awards or recognition, including Q&A segments, a variety of speakers, activities, networking opportunities, breaks, and food will ensure a top-of-the-line experience.
Q: How Do You Do A Virtual Sales Kickoff Event?
A: A virtual sales kickoff event will be very similar to an in-person sales kickoff event. You want to create an agenda that includes time for breakout sessions, Q&A sessions, a variety of speakers, networking, and personal stories told by thought leaders and key staff throughout your entire organization. You want to make sure that you have the best technology set in place to have your virtual sales kickoff event run as smoothly as possible and provide the best quality for your attendees.
Q: What Is A Client Kickoff Event?
A: This is the very first meeting with your team and the client of a new project. This will be the time for the client to lay out everything that they are expecting and clarify anything that has been previously discussed regarding the project. This meeting gives you the chance to divide the work between team members efficiently and demonstrate the abilities you have to ensure success with the client’s project.
Here at OVATION, we would be more than happy to schedule a consultation to determine the best route for your specific needs. Not only are we adaptable, but we have 30 years of experience proving to our clients again and again that we deliver quality.