Sales Kick-off meetings are the first thing on every company’s calendar at the start of every year. They are key in connecting your strategy for the coming year with your sales team and energizing the front line to (over)achieve your annual objectives.
Though an in-person Sales Kick-off (SKO) may not be possible due to the current pandemic, you can still deliver a stellar virtual event. However, generating energy in a virtual meeting poses a challenge. If not done well, it can be demotivating for your employees, which can adversely affect your sales, especially during the first quarter.
The key for a successful virtual event is to educate and inspire your teams at three distinguished points in time: pre, during, and post SKO so they have the right motivation to succeed in the new year.
Here’s a guide to organizing a virtual Sales Kick-off successfully.
Making Sales Kick-off Effective
Sales Kick-offs are arranged for two main reasons: to communicate your annual strategy to the front-line and to inspire, motivate, and educate your sales team for the upcoming year. Companies usually land their strategies for new initiatives, organizational tools, and other changes in those annual conferences.
To make sure your efforts don’t get wasted and your team benefits at the max, prepare these questions before hosting a virtual SKO:
- What do you want to achieve with your SKO?
Roll-out the company’s strategy, any new initiatives, tools, or incentive structures
- How will you measure the success of SKO?
Take feedback, measure engagement, connect launched initiatives to revenue impact
- Which tools are needed to achieve these goals?
Virtual event platforms, communication platforms, cockpits and dashboards
Once you know the answers to these questions, it will help you create a framework for approaching your SKO effectively.
A) Preparing for a Virtual SKO
A Sales Kick-off needs be marketed in the first place! Before SKO, make sure to get your sales team excited and geared up for the meeting. Start preparing for the meeting ahead of time by focusing on these points.
Educate Your Sales Team
Instead of giving long, unilateral lectures virtually, deliver a concise presentation that engages with your audience. In online meetings, participants will usually have an even shorter attention span than face-to-face. While delivering your message, build in feedback loops and ask questions (using the chat feature, an online survey or a virtual engagement tool such as Miro or Mural). This is a great way to make the session lively and to know if the information is making sense to the participants.
One other way is to make any educational material available to participants ahead of time. Pre-work will give your sales team ample time to understand the material and prepare questions for the live discussion.
Set a Clearly Defined Agenda
It’s important to send out the agenda to the participants before the big day so participants can come prepared for the meeting. Focus on clarifying the value they will receive by attending the SKO.
A well-executed agenda includes both high-level talks and presentations that give participants the chance to mingle and network. Most of the time, sales people think they will get lectured in the meeting. But communicating an interactive agenda ahead will change their perspective and make them excited for an SKO where their voice gets heard.
Choose a Theme
Picking a theme for your annual SKO will make the event more engaging and memorable, as everything said will reside around a main idea. A theme encourages to easier add the entertainment element, such as adding jokes, slideshows, mini contests, and so on. Plus, a theme will help you stay organized so that your event doesn’t go all over the place.
Think hard to choose an overarching theme that is loved by the participants. This will create the energy that you are looking for. The right theme depends on your organization’s morale. If employee morale is high across the board, you can be also very creative with the theme. Otherwise, choose something that will resonate with everyone, but creates urgency and eagerness to act.
B) During the Sales Kick-off Meeting
Once the event arrives, you need to shift your attention to keeping the momentum during the virtual meeting.
Share Top Performers’ Success Stories
There is no better way to inspire your team than sharing success stories of top performers. Ask your high performers to talk about their experiences or how what makes them successful. Utilize the opportunity to share knowledge and tips with others. Plus, it will let the performers know that you acknowledge and appreciate their hard work. If you can, also invite a key client to speak about their satisfaction and requirements in working with your company as well as their objectives for the year ahead.
Arrange a Fun Competition
Adding a dose of fun competition will boost your sales team’s competitive spirit. Choose an activity that is suitable for the virtual meeting. The purpose of having a competition is to keep your team engaged while educating them.
Reserve Some time to Mingle and Network
Keeping networking fun and casual is essential to have a great Kick-off. As your team must be working remotely for a long time, a Kick-off will be the time when everyone is connected at the same time so let your sales team take advantage of it. You can organize interactive workshops and create breakouts that can forge valuable connections and lead to new collaborations.
When breaking your teams into smaller groups mix people from different teams that usually don’t work closely together on a daily basis. In crowded video calls, everyone doesn’t get a chance to speak up, which leads to disengagement. Smaller groups let everyone to share their experiences and engage with others, then report back to the larger audience.
Announce New Updates
A SKO is also a golden opportunity to communicate any product launches or new initiatives planned for the year. Engaging your sales teams early will allow them to provide valuable front-line feedback or client requirements on time, in short give them a voice. So, talk about the product launches, invite your product managers to talk about the new updates and have marketing joining to cover the campaigns planned for the year.
C) After the Sales Kick-off Meeting
The impact of SKO doesn’t end with the event, the constant reinforcement of key take-aways and progress made will ensure the representatives have learned something and are improving their sales performance.
Make sure to collect the feedback during and at the end of the event. It starts with having a solid plan to request feedback (e.g. via through an online survey tool), followed by an equally important strategy to implement the feedback effectively.
Don’t Let Your SKO Theme Die
If your team observes that you are taking their feedback collected at the SKO seriously, and act upon, it will keep them enthusiastic throughout the year. Plan to communicate regularly how their feedback has influenced the company’s direction. And also keep reminding them of the take-aways and overall progress made following the SKO. Find ways to reinforce your messages in different ways regularly and follow the interactive notion.
As an in-person SKO may not possible in many locations at the moment, don’t let your and your team’s spirit go down, but organize the best virtual Sales Kick-off to boost your employees’ morale. A virtual SKO will have lower operational cost; consider sending out incentive packs, some snacks and drinks to your team ahead to be used during the SKO.
Virtual may not be the best way to host a SKO, but if you are creative and plan it well, it can equally boost employee’s morale and energize everyone to deliver in the year ahead. Make your SKO highly interactive and fun, introduce new strategies, and embrace the new way of working – it is the only one you have.
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Over 20 years of experience in revenue growth and sales leadership across financial services, media and advertising. Skilled in scaling corporates, SMEs and startups globally. Focused on sales excellence, performance shift, growth model innovation, front-line transformation, market development and customer journey.