Top Three Tips to Planning the Most Effective Sales Kickoff

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” for most of us, but for sales enablement professionals around the world, December and January usually mean one thing — sales kickoff planning season.

A sales kickoff (SKO) can be the most important sales event a company hosts, making it high stakes for the sales enablement teams responsible for coordinating and executing them. The ultimate goal of an SKO is to bring the revenue team together, celebrate wins, and align on how you’re going to tackle the upcoming year or quarter. But it’s a challenge to strike the right balance between throwing a big party and preparing to crush your numbers.

Whether your 2022 sales kickoff will be in person, virtual, or a hybrid, thoughtful and strategic planning is critical to success.

In our Virtual Sales Kickoff Kit, we share a framework for planning a virtual or hybrid sales kickoff, including checklists, event planning tools, pre-, and post-work exercise ideas, and advice from Mindtickle’s own sales enablement team.

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Here are three tips to help get your planning underway.

Unify SKO activities into one platform

One of the first steps in planning a kick-off event is to identify the right technology to execute your vision. You should use a platform that enables you to unify all activities for the event in one place and make it easy to engage both virtual and in-person attendees. It’s important to start with a software solution where you can author and host content, build and manage course sessions for live events, keep reps engaged (gamification, competitions, interactive questions, etc.), and enable reps with learning and training sessions both during the event and afterward.

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You should leverage the existing sales enablement or readiness platform for SKO wherever possible. Sellers already use a multitude of different systems on a day-to-day basis, so asking them to log into and use another platform can feel cumbersome and jeopardize their engagement before, during, and after the event.

With a comprehensive sales readiness platform like Mindtickle, you can create, organize and house all SKO materials and activities in the same system sellers already engage for training and sales content, making the technical overhead for participants easier. And for sales enablement teams, using your existing platform means that, instead of spending time figuring out how to set up and build everything in a new event point-solution, you can focus on designing the content itself, finding the best speakers, and creating the most impactful session content possible. It also means it will be easier for sellers to access content in the future and enables you to better leverage SKO content from year to year.

Define an SKO theme and stick to it

Defining a theme for your SKO helps to refine your messaging, solidify objectives, and, ultimately, make the event memorable. Typically, themes are centered around motivation or growth but are general enough to bring together multiple messages and takeaways through the event’s presentations and activities. From your session titles to your decor, awards, gifts, and team-building activities, you should tie back to your theme as much as possible. So whether your theme is related to climbing Mount Everest, launching into space, or going for the gold (2022 Winter Olympics theme, anyone?), pick and stick to one consistent theme.

You should meet with your chief revenue officer and other sales leaders to gather ideas, align behind a theme, and discuss how to mobilize and energize the team with the highest-impact sessions.

The following discussion points can help facilitate your conversation with sales leadership to define your theme and develop ideas for accompanying session content:

  • What competitive, market, or internal obstacles stand between us and hitting this year’s revenue goal?
  • What does our sales team need to do differently or stop doing this year?
  • What tools or skills are our sales team lacking?
  • What knowledge, skills, and behaviors from our top performers do we want to replicate across the sales team?

Clearly communicate expectations and assign prework

Players don’t arrive at the stadium on game day without having done some individual prep. On day one of SKO, your sellers should be warmed up after having done some prework and should know exactly what’s expected of them during the event.

Ensure you are sending an agenda at least one week prior so that sellers know exactly where to be and when. Creating a comprehensive agenda will accomplish two key goals: it’ll align team expectations, and also get reps excited for what’s to come.

A pre-event communication to sellers usually includes:

  • Agenda and links to the different virtual sessions and resources
    • For hybrid events, include all relevant information for in-person meeting rooms, accommodations, travel logistics, meals, and more
  • Session materials and a what-to-bring checklist
  • A welcome video from leadership to set the context and build morale
  • A gamified knowledge challenge for participants
  • How-to guides for any tools sellers will need to use during the event

And depending on the SKO’s focus, a variety of different pre-work activities can engage sellers before the big day. This ensures sellers are ready to jump right in, cuts down on the time the sales enablement team needs to spend setting context and giving instructions for different sessions, and helps the event move more smoothly overall.

Examples of pre-work activities you can assign each rep include:

  • Pre-recorded territory plans: Record a territory review before SKO, enabling productive discussions. Remind sellers that the goal of the activity is not to talk through slides, but to think through their priorities strategically and provide the thought processes behind their plans for the quarter. Make sure you have reps complete their videos at least a week prior to the event so you have time to review ahead of time.

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  • Research for group breakout: Complete competitive or market research about a specific area to be used during hands-on group breakout exercises.
  • On-demand training video: Watch a pre-recorded training video and be prepared to discuss it during an SKO session.

Be ready for a smooth SKO

While SKO planning can be stressful for sales enablement teams, with effective planning and prework, you can do the heavy lifting on the front end to ensure a smooth event. That way you can show up, execute, and enjoy an epic event that’s guaranteed to energize your team to break new sales records!

Looking for more SKO tips beyond planning? Check out our Virtual Sales Kickoff Kit for advice on how to engage your sellers during the event, leverage content post-event, and ensure that the momentum generated during SKO continues throughout the year and translates into sales results.