The Point: Let’s face it – selling in recent years has been tough. The COVID-19 pandemic and its various delta variants have changed everything about our lives as we know it, as well as redefining the definition of being efficient in the field of sales. This is why sales calendars with a sales kickoff (SKO) at the beginning of the year are essential for starting the year off on the right foot. They’re the most important sales training event of the year where we recognize the successes of the previous year, discuss plans for the year ahead, and set the tone for key initiatives. But if you agree that these SKOs are important, why do so many miss the mark? In this article we’ll explore SKO Essentials for Sales Kickoff Success along with 8 Tips… Enjoy!
Achieve Sales Kickoff (SKO) Liftoff!
Many of us choose to work at home, don’t make your usual in-person kickoff and put it to the internet. Take a look at the following essentials for creating the ideal online sales kickoff plan.
(Looking for additional tools to help you plan your SKO? Read our guide for how to organize the most effective virtual sales kickoff.)
Basics of the SKO Agenda
Making the schedule is the most crucial aspect of making plans for your SKO. It is possible to invite the right people and organize an ideal party – either in person or online, however if no one actually is able to take anything away then what’s the reason?
When we design an SKO plan at The Zeroing Agency, we concentrate on four goals:
- Believing in the mission
- Finding a balance between sales enablement, technology capabilities, and customer-centricity
- Motivated and energized people
- Encouragement of participation and networking with peers
Begin by thinking about what your sales teams must remember for the weeks and months following the event. You can then proceed from there.
8 Tips for Sales Kickoff Success
So with these four goals in mind, let’s go over the eight things to do for the successful sales kickoff!
1. The Importance of the Keynote
Every worthwhile SKO begins with a keynote presentation. This initial session sets the tone for the entire sales kickoff. A great keynote will leave sales reps motivated to attack their goals, while a bad keynote will have them looking at their phones (or the exits!) Make use of this initial session to inspire everyone to join the team and to be a part of the business. If everyone is enthusiastic about selling collectively, the aspirations of everyone feel more achievable. Get into the excitement in the beginning by bringing in a lively speaker (or two!)
Why would you want to engage an external speaker? At The Zeroing Agency, we’ve discovered that fresh external perspectives can make a huge impact. The investment in a topnotch keynote presenter will not only motivate and align all for success, but make a lasting impression (We still talk about a keynote presentation from famed Green Bay Packer – Bart Starr!)
2. Engage, Engage, and Engage!
Be it the main SKO session or Breakout sessions, a successful sales kickoff is similar to real estate, but instead of the secret being location, location, location its engage, engage, and engage! The bulk of your sales kickoff agenda will consist of breakouts, so keep these sessions engagement levels in mind as you plan not only the content but cadence. In SKOs we’ve observed that breakout sessions are typically 30 to 50 minutes in length. It’s possible to think about shorter sessions (think of TED Talks on a 10-15 minute timeframe) for those who want to cover more complex topics in a short amount of time. If you want to present more complex content, you’ll need more time. However, one of the biggest complaints from sales reps in post-SKO surveys was that there was too much content in too short a time period.
These breakout sessions should concentrate on your company’s biggest bets as well as how you can handle issues, and practical tips from your sales superstars. To keep breakouts interesting, you can organize hackathons in real-time, practice learning in role-plays, using live feedback, design authentic or fictional cases studies, and foster an element of competition with games and prizes. If you’re hosting diverse attendees from different departments or regions, you can arrange specific breakouts that follow these same guidelines. It is important that attendees walk away with the thought, “This was relevant – and I have learned something that I can use in my work today from participating.”
3. Ask Your Customers to Present
We’ve learned from our past SKOs that customer speakers are an evergreen favorite. We also know that customer testimonials are a key in providing social proof that your products/services work. So find out the reasons your customers picked your company and what is most important to them in their field as well as how they’d suggest that you interact with similar customers in the near future.
The stories they share can (should?) be the base for case studies in the course of your kickoff and sales initiative for the year. It is also possible to invite these customers to speak about their experiences at a deeper level during a breakout or even join virtual focus groups that provide immediate impact.
4. Give out Recognition and Celebrate Achievement
Let’s face it… The celebration of achievement is what sales reps most excitedly look forward to at an SKO. Honor this long-standing tradition by honoring sales reps and their major successes from the year before.
Know that recognition takes many forms for your sales reps. So make certain that all that are recognized can enjoy the celebration. Sales Kickoff meetings often overlook leveraging humor, so make certain you create some categories that are certain to bring laughter and joy among your staff. The recognition could include items such as extravagant headsets, gift cards, as well as engraved gifts (One of our clients does something A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! If you’d like to know what, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).
5. Make Leaders a Focal Point on the Agenda
If you’re like the majority of sales teams, you’re on the verge of a schedule that are stuffed with meetings and you’re constantly in motion. Utilize this time where everyone is focussed on the same goal to hold discussions with the top leaders and talk about the goals of everyone for the year. Keep in mind that for some (or perhaps the majority), this will be their only opportunity to directly hear from organizational senior leadership.
6. Promote Consistency as a Focus.
A memorable sales kickoff unites everyone with a common objective. Therefore, there’s no better way to bring everyone together around the aim of creating more inclusive communities.
In your SKO, think about creating an affinity group or equality group organize a workshop to be better friends and create more inclusive team bonding events that aren’t centered around happy hours. For instance, random conversations groupings on video calls could enable members of the team to understand the perspectives of their less familiar colleagues.
7. Make Networking a Must
Don’t let this annual opportunity to network internally pass you by. Make it possible for your employees and leaders of different teams to get out of their networks and create valuable connections. Games for icebreakers such as speed dating-inspired coffee conversations and leaders-hosted meetings and greets help people get outside their circle of influence.
8. Add Community Support and Volunteer Opportunities
Add time to the schedule to allow groups to connect informally. It could be via online activities such as cooking classes or a murder-mystery escape rooms, or even volunteering for a special interest project. We love to include volunteer-based activities, for example creating greeting cards for the elderly in retirement communities during our kickoffs to ensure that participants can enjoy themselves while contributing to the communities they serve.
In this article we’ve explored SKO Essentials for Sales Kickoff Success along with 8 Tips. As we mentioned before, let’s face it: selling in recent years has been tough. The COVID-19 pandemic and its various delta variants have changed everything about our lives as we know it, as well as redefining the definition of being efficient in the field of sales. This is why sales calendars with a sales kickoff (SKO) at the beginning of the year are essential for starting the year off on the right foot. They’re the most important sales training event of the year where we recognize the successes of the previous year, discuss plans for the year ahead, and set the tone for key initiatives. But if you agree that these SKOs are important, why do so many miss the mark?
The Sales Kickoff Success – 8 Tips listed above are only the beginning. We’ve got more information on how to host the best SKO in our book, Virtual Sales Kickoffs (Virtual SKOs): A Playbook. If you’d like more information on how this or how we can help, please Contact Us.