With a new year just around the corner, many sales teams are already beginning to plan their sales kickoff (SKO) events. Organizing a successful SKO event requires careful planning, coordination, and execution. Assuming you’re holding your SKO near the start of the year, starting in the summer or early fall gives you several months to prepare adequately. That ensures everything is in place for a seamless and impactful event.
SKOs are designed to help sales reps and other members of the sales organization rally around your organization’s goals while motivating and preparing them to sell products and services. With this in mind, an important step in initial SKO planning is to determine which KPIs are most important for measuring success. Let these drive your planning. In this blog post, we’ll share ideas for SKOs based on feedback from sales professionals from several organizations.
How to Begin Planning for Your Sales Kickoff
Determining the first SKO planning steps can be difficult. As with any event, there are a million details to attend to and a limited budget to use. Before you begin seeking out the right venue, creating a budget, and evaluating speakers, first build a solid foundation of research and strategy:
- Seek to better understand your sales team. Ask past attendees for feedback on previous kickoff events. Get to know your audience better by meeting with team leaders to decide what training their team members need. Analyze sales performance metrics to identify trends, areas of improvement, and top-performing individuals. Understanding the team’s performance and preferences helps you tailor your kickoff content to address relevant challenges.
- Develop a strong theme. An event theme establishes a memorable experience for your attendees. Themes generate excitement and reinforce brand messaging. Your event theme should be short, memorable, and actionable (e.g., “Get Into the Customer Mindset”).
- Select technology that supports your vision. Technology supports your SKO’s engagement, streamlines processes, and enhances the attendee experience. Start by determining whether your event will be in person, virtual or hybrid. Will you need steaming capabilities or on-site scanning devices? How about a mobile app? Some technologies specialize in one aspect of an event while others, such as RainFocus, provide end-to-end solutions for virtual and in-person experiences.
Ideas for Sales Kickoff Content
Presenting the right content to SKO attendees enables them to leave the event feeling prepared for the year. Here are a few content best practices:
- Focus on new and emerging products. In a recent study fielded by Opus Agency investigating what attendees want from their next SKO, sales professionals indicated that they were most interested in technology, innovation, and emerging trends.
- Prioritize training sessions. The Opus Agency study also revealed that many reps prefer sales training breakouts over other potential session types. Whether it’s hands-on training or guided simulations, get reps engaging to amplify their experience.
- Include case studies from high performers. Case studies make for incredibly impactful kickoff sessions because they tell compelling stories about your reps’ real-world challenges. By showcasing how successful individuals are at selling a product or service, they inspire others to do the same.
- Engage in conversations. Open the floor to your attendees to share their experiences, struggles, and learnings with their peers. Consider offering roundtables and other networking sessions where participants can learn tips from each other and share best practices.
How to Measure Your SKO’s Success
There are many KPIs that you can use to analyze the results of your SKO and evaluate its success. Determining the right KPIs is an essential part of planning. Although many will depend on your goals, here are some popular areas to evaluate:
- Check-in, badging, and gift redemption. How many representatives showed up? Did everyone collect their badge and/or gifts? Seeing who checked in and who did not check in also identifies who still needs training.
- Session attendance and engagement. Session engagement says a lot about the perceived value of your content. By monitoring attendance for specific training sessions or workshops, you can identify potential gaps in knowledge or interest. This information can guide future training initiatives and content development.
- Session survey responses. Session surveys allow reps to provide feedback on the content, format, and effectiveness of each session they attended. This feedback is valuable for event organizers and trainers to gauge the success of individual sessions and overall event impact. You can also address any issues or concerns that arise from survey responses to improve the experience.
- Number of meetings scheduled and attended. Did reps use the time they were given for networking opportunities? Monitoring the number of meetings scheduled provides insights into the sales team’s productivity during the event. It also indicates how proactive certain reps were in seeking out new opportunities.
- Game participation. Gamifying SKO engagement has become a popular way to motivate reps to attend sessions, build relationships, or provide feedback. Determine which reps were most engaged throughout your event and award high performers, and track overall participation in your gamification offerings.
- Number of sales made since your SKO. Of course, a major indicator of an effective SKO is an increase in sales. Tracking sales year-over-year in relation to the SKO helps you demonstrate event ROI to stakeholders and secure funding for future events.
Effective preparation helps ensure that your SKO is an effective transformative experience that drives tangible results and motivates your team to reach new heights in the next year. By starting the planning process early, selecting the right platform, and understanding your sales team’s unique needs, you can fine-tune your SKO to maximize its impact.