How to Host a Successful Sales Kickoff for Your Organization

November 29, 2022

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It’s that time of year again to reflect on what you’ve achieved, whether that was rebuilding your business post-Covid or growing your customer base in an economic downturn. Looking back on your wins and acknowledging your losses allows you to set the stage for a fresh new strategy as you ring in the new year.

But the most impactful thing you can do to ensure the success of a new business strategy?  Ensure your sales team is fully invested in the vision with a sales kickoff event. Whether a rep performed well in 2022 or didn’t quite meet their targets, it’s important that they start 2023 enthusiastic, motivated, and ready to sell.

With more organizations embracing hybrid working and virtual conferencing, getting everyone on the same page can feel like a challenge especially when you’re working on a global scale. But with the right setup for your sales kickoff meeting, you can make sure your sales force comes away engaged and inspired.

In this post, we lay out the blueprint for a successful sales kickoff that will set your organization up for success. Keep reading for tips, tricks, and out-of-the-box ideas to engage your team and get 2023 off on the right foot.

What is a Sales Kickoff (SKO)?

A sales kickoff is an annual event usually held at the beginning of the calendar year to launch your sales force into the year ahead. It’s an important forum for celebrating achievements, setting goals, and building camaraderie (and healthy competition) among your team.

Depending on the size of your organization, your SKO might be anything from a half-day session to a multi-day conference event. And while it’s sometimes difficult to get buy-in for taking your team off the phones for that length of time, the impact of a well-planned SKO far exceeds its cost.

Why are Sales Kickoffs So Important?

A sales kickoff event is the best, and often the only chance you have to bring your entire team together for education, training, and motivation. If your company is doing well, it’s easy for your sales force to get complacent. If you had a tricky year, it can be hard to motivate your team out of their rut. In either case, a sales kickoff event is your chance to bring reps together to celebrate standout performances, devise new tactics, and inject sales teams with the motivation they need.

What to Include in a Successful Sales Kickoff Meeting

If you have a global team, your 2023 sales kickoff will likely take place as a hybrid event. To maximize engagement and minimize meeting fatigue, you need to keep both your onsite and virtual audiences in mind when planning your SKO.

Here are some of our top tips for what to include in a successful sales kickoff.

1. Celebrate Your Wins

Get the energy flowing and wake up the room by kicking off your SKO with a celebration of the previous year’s milestones and achievements. Whether it’s a regional team that smashed their target or an individual rep who landed a valuable new client, ringfence time in your agenda to recognize and reward top performers.

Most salespeople thrive on recognition and competition, so your SKO is a great opportunity to both reward your best performers and give any struggling reps a boost of motivation.

Build in plenty of structured networking time for reps to swap tips and strategies. This could be over in-person lunch, or in a virtual breakout room.

Tip: if using online breakout rooms, consider setting each group a prompt or task to discuss, e.g. ‘describe the sale you’re most proud of from 2022.’ It can occasionally be hard to get the conversation flowing organically through a screen, so a shared prompt helps to foster discussion and keep things on track.

2. Keep Things Engaging

Whether it’s onsite, online, or a mixture of the two, your SKO needs to keep your sales team inspired and motivated throughout. Of course, that’s easier said than done it’s inevitable that your attendees’ attention might wander, especially if they’re tuning in through a screen.

Harness your sales force’s innate competitiveness by incorporating elements of gamification into your agenda, such as pop quizzes and a live leaderboard.

Let attendees know you value their time and opinion by running regular ‘pulse’ polls that allow them to give an instant thumbs up or thumbs down on what’s being presented.

And above all, keep presentations impactful and to the point. Highlight key numbers, emphasize new marketing messages, and show your reps the research that proves these new tactics are going to work for them.

3. Carefully Plan Your Content

It’s hard for anyone to stay focused through multiple hours of slide decks and spreadsheets, no matter how interesting the information within them.

Your sales kickoff should be an occasion for a bit of theatricality and performance – after all, your audience is made up of experts in the art of getting someone’s attention. A great way to engage your audience is to bring in an expert speaker, whether that’s someone within your organization (e.g. a senior leader) or a guest from outside. Choose someone with expertise and a proven track record that your sales reps would love to emulate, and make sure you build in time for a Q&A.

Even if your event is being held virtually, expert speakers can be a powerful way to grab hold of your team’s attention and elevate your event beyond an everyday meeting.

And of course, keep your audience front of mind with every decision you make regarding your agenda. Focus on what a sales professional cares about: compensation, pricing, competitors, and new product updates. Make sure your teams can only access that kind of information for the year ahead by attending your SKO.

Download the Guide to a Successful SKO

Looking for more guidance on running a successful sales kickoff for your organization? Our latest eBook contains in-depth strategies and advice to help you shape your plans. Download today to discover everything you need for a successful SKO.

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