4 Essential Elements for Your Best SKO Yet

December 23, 2019

Sales Kickoff (SKO) season is upon us! If you’re in sales, you’ve been to your share of good (and bad) SKOs.

If you're helping to plan this year's event, you'll have to consider everything from goals to agenda to content to follow up.

You'll have to consider things like:

  • How do you set your event apart and get people excited about attending?
  • How do you ensure that your attendees walk away excited about the upcoming year? What valuable skills do you hope they take away from the event?

This kind of planning doesn't happen overnight! To help with your own planning, I've put together a list of the 4 essential elements I develop SKOs around:

  1. Celebrate successes from the past year
  2. Set the stage for the next year
  3. Set aside time for team building and networking
  4. Reinforce learnings after the event

So let’s take a quick look into each of these, and get you planning for your best SKO ever.

1. Celebrate Successes #

It’s important to provide time and space to celebrate the successes that your team has had over the past year.

This simple exercise is easy to overlook and is at risk from being cut from a tight budget. From a cultural and morale perspective, this is one of the most important pieces of an SKO.

Make sure you give ample time for people to connect with each other (field sales teams don’t see each other very often). Carve out time for networking and socializing, allowing everyone to congratulate each other over a year well-won.

SKO Tip: Formally award those who have made a splash and make sure that the award ceremony is part of your event.

Sales team awards can be anything! Think: Who made it to President’s Club, or who met quota, or who won the biggest deal. The best sales awards ceremonies also include things like “best wingman or wingwoman” (deal support) or “most likely to shut the office down” (who’s always there). It’s important to acknowledge and reward those who are protecting the culture of your team and/or company, and those who give back the most to the team.

2. Set the Stage for Next Year #

You’ve celebrated the successes from the past year, so now you have to address where your company is going next year.

This is a perfect time for executives to share the vision for the future. It’s important to ensure that it isn’t just vision The best planning sessions show how the teams are going to get there.

If you’re incorporating breakout sessions for each team (highly recommended!), this is a great time for each team to discuss how they can prepare for the future growth. Highlight those who are doing great things, and have them share their experience with others. If you have an Enablement team in-house, this is a great area where they can be leveraged to run these types of sessions.

SKO Tip: Discuss the future of the company with the entire sales org.

This gives everyone confidence in the direction of the company and/or team and can help them understand where they fit in the larger picture.

3. Team Building #

Another essential piece of a Sales Kickoff is an aspect of Team Building. Unless you have a mid-year kickoff, this is usually one of the only times during the year that you will be able to bring together everyone across your Sales Organization, and oftentimes even Operations and Customer Success (depending on your attendee list).

It’s important to use this time to get people interacting and engaging with others that they might not normally interact with. These can be simple networking opportunities like happy hours, or better yet - engineer a team building activity where people are potentially building bookcases or bikes for a charity or a kind of amazing race type of activity where they have to work as a team in order to accomplish a task or race.

SKO Tip: Take advantage of multiple teams being together for a few days to work towards a common, collaborative goal. Use this team-spirit momentum to reinforce the culture of your company.

4. Reinforcement #

So you’ve managed to pull off a killer SKO. Congratulations! You’ll head back to the office with some amazing team building memories and great insights from your sessions and trainings.

Now you have to make sure all of those learnings follow your attendees into the field. This is where your Enablement team can really shine!

SKO Tip: Use any combination of a Learning Management System, Content Management Systems, and quiz-based games to repackage all learnings from the Sales Kickoff.

Present all of the learnings in different ways throughout the weeks, months, and quarters following the event in an effort to reinforce those trainings.

SKO Takeaway #

Ultimately, think of your attendees first when planning a Kickoff event. Know what big questions you’re trying to answer. Questions like: What is the objective? What do you want people to learn? What kind of culture-boost are you trying to achieve?

Don’t be afraid to try new things and break the mold of what a typical kickoff event typically look like! That’s often where you’ll get the best engagement - and the best memories.

Written by Stephanie Middaugh

Stephanie Middaugh has over 10 years of experience in Operations and Enablement roles. Most recently she's been building out the Enablement function from scratch at one of the hottest FinTech companies in Utah, Divvy.

Recently named one of LinkedIn's Top Sales Voices in 2019, Stephanie shares applicable best practices that can be taken back to the office and implemented the very next day.

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