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Guide to Plan and Execute a Perfect Sales Kickoff Event

9 minutes read

Sales Kickoff: A sales kickoff is an annual meeting (usually in January) for your entire sales team. The main objectives are motivating your reps, managers, and leaders; laying out your strategy; and celebrate last year’s wins. You’re setting the tone for the next 12 months and getting the entire organization – from the top to the bottom – fired up to hit their goals.

While conducting your sales kickoff meeting it is important to ensure that:

  • It boosts everybody’s morale

  • Buillds team trust and rapport

  • Makes the entire organization understand the priorities and roadmap for the year ahead

To have such an incredibly effective kickoff, it is important to make it interesting, engaging and informational at the same time. Fun activities pave the way for a highly engaging kickoff. They help in making the event impactful and memorable. Even delegates often view them as standard procedures to meet others and have some fun before the official program starts.

This blog, gives you tips to plan and execute a perfectly engaging, entertaining and educating sales kickoff event…. So keep reading

1. Choose an engaging kickoff theme

Why choose a theme for your sales kickoff?

  • First, your content will be more engaging and memorable if it all goes back to a central idea

  • Second, it hightens the entertainment value. A theme lets you add in jokes, slideshows, skits, mini contests, and so on

  • Third, a theme keeps you on track

Kickoffs fail when they’re all over the place – reps end up forgetting what they’ve heard, and there’s no lasting value. To make your kickoff successful, give it an overarching theme.

But don’t choose any random theme. The right theme depends on your org’s morale. Here are some interesting themes you can choose from:

  • The avengers/ The Justice League:

Give each of your top salespeople from last year a superhero persona. Then have them dress in costume and shoot a video or give a speech explaining what they did to be successful. You can also have your presenters dress as superheroes and stage battles.

  • Beat Competitor:

Do you have a clear rival in the market? Now’s your chance to use that to your advantage. Nothing rallies a sales team like a common enemy, so use a theme that focuses on overcoming your competitor.

  • March Madness:

Assign an NCAA team to each sales team or region, then have them compete throughout the kickoff to advance through the bracket. Keep the basketball theme going throughout – have your presenters dress like coaches, use “referees” to quiet the crowd, and give basketball tickets as prizes.

  • Your Company’s Slogan:

If you have a company tagline or slogan, consider making it your kickoff theme.

  • Survivor

Divide salespeople into tribes. Over the course of the kickoff, hold several “challenges” to test their product knowledge, selling skills, engagement during sessions, etc. The kickoff’s emcee can play Survivor host. At the end of the kickoff, give the team with the most points a prize.

2. Create a detailed schedule of the Kickoff Event

Break down your event into various sessions so that it progresses as per a plan avoiding any chaos. So, here is how you can schedule each session of your event:

Day 1:

Session 1- Welcome/Breakfast: The host introduces themselves, goes over the schedule, and gets everyone excited. Free food never hurts – and if your attendees eat a good breakfast, it’ll be easier for them to focus.

Session 2- Morning Fun Activity:

A fun activity gives an energetic start to the day. So, lighten up the mood of the crowd with the below fun activity

  • Storytelling:

This is a great ice breaking activity after the initial introduction in the sales kickoff event. For this, divide the audience into groups of five and give everyone a pen and a sheet of paper.

Now, every group member is supposed to write a story about the most innovative event he/she helped to organize and share it with the rest of the group. This gives the employees a good start to getting to know their peers.

Session 3- Year in review: The fun activity will then be followed by discussion of last year’s numbers, the highlights and lowlights, major company in industry, and product developments.

Session 4- Training/breakout session: Next, divide reps get into small groups for skills-based sales training. Consider sending pre-work so training sessions are building on familiar information and concepts.

Session 5- Lunch: This gives a great opportunity for salespeople to network. Encourage mingling.

Session 6- Marketing update: Next get the CMO or VP of Marketing to cover the initiatives that their department is planning for the upcoming year (and more importantly, how these will help Sales make more money).

Session 7- Evening Fun activities:

And, now it’s time to conduct some more fun activities to keep the audience’s energy high. Choose one or two games from the listed ones below depending on the time you have left:

  • Sales Bingo:

Prepare 5X5 bingo matrices filled with various statements that range from personal stuff (visited more than 15 countries / have a pet / etc.) to business (have you ever fallen asleep during a conference call / been with the company over 10 years, etc.). Tell the players that they must interview each other. Have each player go around the group and ask other people to check off one box that applies to them. The person with a completed card is a winner!

  • Question Ball:

Take a beach ball and write “ice breaker” questions all over it. Tell delegates that the index finger of the hand that they write with will determine the question that they will answer. Toss the ball to the first attendee who needs to catch it and answer the question that his/her index finger lands on. Then he tosses the ball to the next person and so on.

Session 8- Group Dinner (Optional):

After the last two fun filled sessions, a group dinner lets the reps to further mingle with each other over delicious food.

This gives a happy and fun ending to the first day of the event. Everybody goes home fully charged and excited to come back for the next day.

Day 2:

Session 1- Short welcome/breakfast: This intro session should quickly go over the plan for the day.

Session 2- Morning Fun Activity: Just like the previous day, start the day 2 with a fun activity. It would give a great start to day 2 if the fun activity is also educational to the reps like the below one:

  • Learn from the Heroes:

It is good to start off the day with a fun activity that is also educational. Salespeople want to learn what the top people at the company did so they can achieve the same success. These stories are both inspiring and insightful. With that in mind, schedule one to three panels where your highest-performing sellers discuss their biggest deals – how they started the sales conversation, how the process went, which obstacles they encountered and how they got past them, etc.

Session 3- Sales Training Session: To reinforce the previous session, you should also include at least one tactical sales training session. Successful salespeople never stop learning, so give them plenty of insights and new techniques to try in the new year.

Session 4- Lunch: Same idea as previous day’s lunch – try to encourage cross-team mingling if possible. You can also use this time to present awards to the top reps and managers of last year.

Session 5- Speech: Get a senior leader in your organization like the CEO or CSO to give an inspiring speech. They could tell the founding story of the company, talk about company’s culture or how they are making an impact. Hearing a motivating speech from a senior business leader never fails to inspire salespeople.

Session 6- Evening Fun Activities: After the inspiring session, you can have another round of fun activities before closing the event. Depending on your audience and time, you can pick and conduct activities from the list below:

  • Guess My Job:

Let the delegates write down, on a slip of paper, the most interesting or different job they’ve ever had and place it in a bowl. The others have to guess who had that job. Surprisingly, fun and enlightening…

  • Penny Game: Place a handful of pennies on every table. Instruct the attendees to select one randomly. Delegates introduce themselves by stating their name, their region and the year on the chosen penny.

Then they need to say an interesting thing that happened to them in the year marked on the penny. Quick, fun and informative!

  • Find The Man: Conduct a networking event where your reps get the opportunity to form connections that’ll lead to mentorships, informal peer training, friendships, and deal collaborations. To make this fun, give a delegate someone else’s name tag. He/she needs to find the other person, interview him, and introduce him to the group. It’s a great fun and forces the reps to approach new people.

Session 7- Closing speech: Have someone from your company (maybe the CEO or VP of Sales) give a short speech summarizing the kickoff’s highlights and reminding everyone what they’ll accomplish in this year.

3. Drive your Sales Kickoff through an app:

Once you have a schedule in place, it’s time to gain your employee’s attention. Drive the SKO event using an app. This will help in engaging your employees and getting them excited about the event. To build excitement around your event, send regular updates to your employees about the event. If you need some helping hands in organizing, you can use the app to ask the employees to volunteer. This motivates active participation from everybody.

You can conduct a pre event survey through the app to understand what people at your company expect from the event. Also, a post event survey helps you to know your audience’s experience in the event. This helps you determine if the event was successful and what needs to be improved or changed for next year. Notify your employees about the schedule of the event well in advance so that they can be prepared. You can also conduct fun activities through app and share success stories.

Do you want to know the difference between Virtual vs In-person SKO?

Read: Virtual vs In-person The Winning SKO

Planning to launch a virtual SKO? Learn how to do that from the article below:

How to Create and Implement a Perfect Virtual Sales Kick-off?

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Published on Sat Aug 17 2019

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