I’ve had the the opportunity to attend the Sales Kickoff and Annual Sales Meeting of some of the best companies in the nation and have witnessed first hand what makes a sales kickoff (SKO) world class.
Whether you only have a dozen reps or a sales organization of hundreds of employees, the following five key takeaways are worth thinking about as you plan your own SKO.
Takeaway 1: Pre-SKO preparations help set the tone
One of our clients had their COO record a 1 minute video on why the sales reps should be excited about the upcoming SKO. This was followed by SKO pre-work sent by different teams (marketing, product, sales engineering, etc.) to help sales reps prepare for what was going to be covered during the SKO sessions.
As a result, energy levels were high leading into the SKO, and some companies reported that over 90% of their employees had engaged with the pre-SKO content before the first day of the event. I can’t emphasize this enough – the pre-work leading to the SKO was a great way to get everyone excited about the live, in-person event.
Pro tip: Use mobile technology (like MindTickle for example) to deliver bite-sized updates, quizzes and surveys and the pre-SKO work.
Takeaway 2: Have a theme to drive the message home
Marketing folks know that a cohesive theme can help deliver an impactful message. Much like you should have a theme for trade shows you sponsor, having a specific theme for the sales meeting can help create the right environment. For example, one of our customers had a theme “We Will”. Not for the Queen song “We Will Rock You” (although there was a hilarious opening session based on it), but for the meaning that the word “will” carries how the company is rallying around their aggressive growth plan. This theme of “will” as an action (as in “I will”), as an attitude (as in “will power”) and as a statement (not “try” but “will”), was used and referred to throughout the event.
Takeaway 3: Make sure to add opportunities to socialize
At the end of each day have a social gathering, preferably at a different place, with plenty of drinks, food, and entertainment. You don’t have to overspend to create a quality social event if you pay careful attention to the venue, service, and food. These evening occasions can help put different teams together, remote employees finally meet their co-workers, and executives spend time with people they typically don’t meet on a daily basis.
Takeaway 4: Look for ways to reinforce your message and learning
As you plan the sessions for the SKO, make sure it is contextual for the sales reps. Invite reps to relevant sessions based on what team or group they belong to (so sales engineers and salespeople may have different sessions). But it isn’t enough to just break people up, the content delivered is more impactful if it includes some specific things:
- Tailor pre-reads for each session to the audience;
- Make sure all the presenters are experts in their particular fields;
- Leverage technology to help deliver information, motivate people to pay attention, and help them remember afterward;
For example one of our customers used the MindTickle mobile app to push out the session slides to all mobile devices. They followed it up with quizzes and polls to measure feedback and engagement from the team. More importantly, each content, quiz, and poll had points associated and the more a person participated the more points they earned.
These points translated into a digital leaderboard that was updated and shared daily. This got reps more engaged and drove up participation during and after sessions, helping maintain the energy throughout the SKO.
Takeaway 5: Focus on alignment and energy
SKOs are a good opportunity to align the team to the strategy for the coming quarter or year. While this is important, it’s critical to combine strategy with energy.
Time a strategy session towards the end of the event, to help reinforce key messages from the top ranks about where the company is heading, the market opportunity, and key wins. Throw in plenty of awards and recognition for the top sales reps and lead into a “grand finale” that gets everyone energized and ready to start the year strong.
Your path to a great SKO
As you plan your own SKO think about your overall goal, how to tie everything together with a theme, and ways to keep your reps engaged throughout. There is one more thing to think about – what to do post-SKO.
One final piece of advice would be to keep the momentum going after the event by continuing to engage with the team. Give employees access to videos shown during the event, additional footage that was not shown at the event, and any other relevant content. It is never too soon to start thinking about your next SKO and I hope this blog has given you some good tips.