It’s never too early to start planning for the new year — especially when it comes to your sales kickoff.
Sales kickoffs, or SKOs, live at the intersection of education and celebration: the goal of any SKO is to prepare and reenergize reps as they enter the new year. But with many of the challenges of the last year carrying over into 2022, revenue leaders are rethinking what a SKO looks like in today’s world of work.
How can you ensure your SKO sets up sellers for success? We’ll break down the key elements of any successful SKO, kickoff essentials that include how to prepare your teams for SKO and how to reinforce learnings after the event. Let’s dive in.
What Every Successful SKO Needs
Every successful SKO focuses on landing three main elements: inspiration, education, and celebration.
Inspirational elements help align your team around upcoming business goals. Most companies use SKOs to introduce major organizational changes — whether that’s a new piece of technology, a new sales organizational structure, new product launches, new strategies, or something else. Inspirational components should communicate the importance of these changes while emphasizing their benefits to the company. Typically, this is done via a keynote presentation from company leaders. But creative companies may even add on games or other interactive sessions to inspire their teams and get buy-in.
Educational sessions are paramount to any SKO. While it may be tempting to throw as much training content as you can at reps, it’s important that you make the most of this time by focusing sessions on the most important things reps need to succeed right now. That means tailoring content for reps based on regions, roles, or customer segments, and even getting hyper-specific in sessions. For instance, if you deployed a new sales enablement tool, instead of teaching reps everything they need to know about it, perhaps just focus on one new feature, like how to pitch content from within the platform. This ensures that the material you do teach reps is consumable, relevant, and engaging.
Celebration is the final piece of your SKO puzzle. How often do you get to gather your entire sales organization in one place? Chances are that it doesn’t happen frequently. That makes your SKO an important time for recognition, team-building, and fun. After all, the goal of an SKO is to energize as much as it is to educate your sales team. Celebrations often take the form of happy hours or team dinners, but don’t shy away from unconventional approaches: hiring comedians to perform or offering fun activities like improv classes or wine tasting can bring new life to your SKO.
How to Prepare for Your SKO
Securing a successful SKO starts in the weeks leading up to it. During this two- to four-week period, focus on rallying your sales team and preparing for the big kickoff. Here’s where to center your efforts:
Whether your SKO is held in-person or done virtually, the number-one goal is to engage attendees as much as possible. To avoid having a multi-day lecture, plan ahead and curate educational content to distribute weeks prior to the actual event. Utilize your sales enablement platform to provide personalized content and deliver digestible learning resources reps should consume before your SKO. This way, your salespeople can learn the material at their own pace, letting your SKO focus on live practice and reinforcement of new materials.
Like a proper sales pitch, be sure to communicate the value of the event to attendees. This is necessary to fuel their intrinsic motivation, ensuring that attendees arrive at the event eager and fully ready to participate.
Start by stepping into your sales team’s shoes, understanding each of their personal goals and motivations. Then take time to “pitch” the SKO to your team — emphasize what’s in it for them and clearly outline the benefits they will receive by attending. Another way to rally your sales team is to release a teaser or agenda prior to the event. A sneak peek of the SKO will build momentum and give attendees a roadmap of what to expect as they look forward to the big event.
How to Engage Sales Reps During Your SKO
SKOs have a reputation for being long days of endless lectures. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, a great SKO should keep your reps engaged from the moment they arrive to the second they depart. This can be achieved through simple techniques like the ones below:
Flipped classroom: In a flipped classroom, reps prepare with pre-read content. Sessions are then used for discussion and Q&A, rather than lectures.
Let learners teach: One of the best ways to reinforce knowledge is to teach it to someone else. Here, let reps who have mastered best practices share their knowledge with other learners.
Practice live: Don’t just tell learners what they need to know — let them demonstrate understanding by role playing sessions or utilizing other in-person practice techniques.
Keep it moving: Nobody likes sitting in a chair for eight hours straight. Simple changes to your environment, like moving a session outside if the weather is nice or discussing a new technique at a restaurant, are great ways to keep energy high.
Ask the reps: Finally, don’t forget to ask your reps what they want from their SKO experience. Tailoring your event to their needs and expectations will ensure they are excited to attend — and stay engaged for its duration.
How to Reinforce Knowledge Post-SKO
Once your SKO is over, your goals should shift from introducing knowledge to reinforcing it with ongoing training and coaching. Ideally, this continued learning should happen within your sales enablement platform.
Here, focus on real-world application of key concepts. It’s essential that reps contextualize new knowledge as it relates to their work, goals, and customer interactions. This can be achieved through approaches like asking reps to record themselves utilizing a new sales play in a mock customer conversation.
Additionally, don’t forget to enable and coach your sales managers on the behaviors they need to track to ensure reps are mastering new skills. Rubrics, guidance for 1:1 sessions, and coaching playbooks will all help managers inspect rep performance and intervene as necessary to keep reps on course.
Best 2022 Sales Kickoff Themes
- Above and Beyond
- All in this Together
- Breaking New Ground
- Discover the Difference
- Envision the Future
- Fired up
- Gaining the Edge
- Home Run
- In It to Win It
- Journey to the Top
- Make Your Mark
- Maximum Velocity
- Moving to Mastery
- New Frontiers
- No Limits
- Portraits of Success
- Power Up
- Raising the Bar
- Rally Up
- Ramp Up
- Shoot for the Stars
- Stop Selling, Start Closing
- Think Big
- Together Towards Tomorrow
- Win As One
- [Your Company Name] On Fire
Start 2022 Off With a Successful SKO
The new year is always a time of promise and anticipation — and your SKO should be as well. Using the tips provided here, you are sure to deliver an event that leaves your sales team energized, inspired, and equipped to tackle anything 2022 throws at them.
Want secure success beyond your SKO? Download the latest analyst research to learn how and where enablement leaders should be focusing their efforts in 2022.