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Guide to the Perfect Online Sales Kickoff (SKO) Event

What is a sales kickoff event?

A sales kickoff event is usually held at the start of the fiscal year and designed to bring the sales team together, celebrate past success, share new strategy, and educate.

The event is intended to be fun, professional, and inspirational. It's a time to align the sales team with company priorities and the path for the year ahead. The sales kickoff event sets expectations, encourages growth mindsets, and inspires your sales force.

The event is traditionally an in-person one, but since most sales teams are remote, and of course, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, many events will now be held online. The goal is to engage participants while generating energy and enthusiasm for the sales year ahead.

Related: How to Run an Online Management Meeting

Why bring your team together

A sales kickoff event can be conducted remotely, but many will miss the in-person interaction. So why go to all the trouble of hosting such an event online? Company leaders may be resistant to the idea of investing the resources this would demand.

Here are a few reasons your company can't do without an online sales kickoff event:

  • Motivation - Your sales team needs to be stirred up in a grand way to face the new fiscal year. The energized discussion of incentives, milestones, and competition can motivate them to commit to doing their best.
  • Education - Your sales teams need to be educated on your company's latest sales techniques and goals and objectives. They must also know your product through and through. Trainings and refresher sessions are always vital, while team members may share experiences and personal techniques.
  • Networking - This is more difficult online. Still, your sales team can network and become acquainted with new people using breakout rooms, post-event emails, and subsequent video conferencing in smaller groups. Your team can draw energy and positive emotions from one another and build a sense of togetherness.
  • Celebration - Your sales team will enjoy a feeling of accomplishment and recognition for last year's work. This is a time to celebrate past successes and motivate everyone toward new achievements.

Here are a few ideas to make your SKO successful

Consider following the following ideas to have an awesome online sales kickoff event:

Start with purpose

Determining what a successful SKO will look like at the end will help you to plan at the start. First, you and your planning team review exactly what your sales team need to come away knowing, understanding, and feeling. You can then brainstorm and pick a theme - one that aligns with company priorities for the coming year. Ask yourself questions as you plan:

  • What do we want attendees to think and feel during the event?
  • What do we ultimately hope to accomplish with this event?
  • Is there any aspect of any SKO that we want to focus on - motivation, product knowledge, customer service, etc.?
  • What can we build into this event that will help up to maintain the energy throughout the year?

Include the sales team in the planning by polling them to see what they need. You might be surprised at what they say. Be open to their ideas; it's all about them, after all.

Set a clear, balanced agenda

This is your opportunity to drive home points that may get missed as the year begins. Let the agenda be focused on your most essential messaging, with dynamic speakers, informative and interactive knowledge sessions, and time to "mingle". When compared with an in-person meeting agenda, your online version should have shorter presentations and sessions, and no more than four hours of content per day to keep energy levels up.

Build excitement

Let everyone know about the event to come by building anticipation and excitement around it. Begin planning early so everyone can save the date. Create buzz with print and digital communications to stir your sales force. Show clips of the dynamic speakers they will hear and send out pre-work or overviews of the training sessions. Whet their appetites for the future event and all that they will gain. Even though the event is online you can still offer raffles and prizes to be delivered to the winners' homes or offices.

Related: How to Keep Your Audience Engaged During an Online Presentation

Use tech

Use tech to involve the sales team. Use polls and quizzes, or brainstorm before the event with interactive software like MeetingPulse. This tool provides live Q&As, polls, quizzes, and much more. These may be used to create momentum leading up to your event, realtime monitoring during the event, and feedback after the event.

Presentation and laptops on desk

Are you looking for a means of interacting and engaging your online audience? MeetPulse is user-friendly, accessible, and scalable. Contact MeetingPulse today.

During the event

Add the following ideas to your event to see remarkable engagement and memorable takeaways:

Include success stories

Acknowledge the successes of the last year and recognize the teams and team members who contributed to your company's success. Give awards — both small and big. Allow team members who had exemplary achievements or demonstrated best practices to share their success stories. This can be highly motivating to everyone, including the team members who are sharing their stories. This will provoke the rest of the team to stretch themselves to achieve similarly.

A little competition

Sales teams are fueled by healthy competition, so don't forget to have an element of that in your SKO. This will keep them engaged with the presentations and each other throughout the event.

Invite your best customers

A panel of some of your best customers could reveal aspects of your customer service, sales techniques, and product that your team needs to know. Ask them questions like,

  • Why did you decide to work with us?
  • Is there anything our competition can offer you that would entice you to switch?
  • How is our customer service?

Encourage and support honest feedback.

If a panel isn't appropriate, consider video clips of customers sharing what they love (and don't love) about your company.

Don't forget to mingle

This can be tricky with an online event. Still, it's possible to encourage team members to talk about different portions of the training or share feedback concerning the presentations and panels. Depending on the video conferencing platform you are using, you can use "breakout rooms" or something similar to get people into smaller groups for talking.


Announce new products, product updates, and trainings to be happening throughout the year.

At the end

At the end of your event, you should gather as much feedback as possible. It's the only way to gauge if this was indeed a success.

MeetingPulse is a user-friendly software tool that can generate surveys or quizzes for feedback. Once you have the feedback, have a plan in place to act on it. You'll get more specific and honest feedback if your team sees that you take it seriously and act upon it.

Related: Top 6 Audience Interaction Tools for Virtual Meetings

Final thought

An SKO can be a truly memorable and inspiring event. Having it online gives you new ways to make an impact on your sales team. Going the extra mile to make it informative, exciting, interactive, and engaging will reap yearlong benefits.

Want to gather surveys and other feedback? Find out why MeetingPulse is trusted by Fortune 100 companies.

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