Ask your sales team what comes to their mind when they think of sales kickoffs (SKOs)? Boring presentations? Motivational monologues? Information overload? Or do they think of ‘just a big fat annual party’? 

Even before COVID-19 forced SKOs to go online, questions about how to get sales to deliver more revenue were ever-present in the minds of sales leaders, marketers, and executives. SKOs are designed to enable sales with strategies and tactics to win more business, but they are often expensive, take up valuable marketing time to plan, and it’s difficult to measure engagement. Moreover, when they are only done once a year, it can be difficult to make them relevant to rapidly changing market dynamics. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. And the old way of doing things needs to be re-examined if you want to remain competitive. With new tools and technologies like virtual events platforms, your next SKO can be less expensive, drive better results, and be easier to manage than traditional SKOs:

1. Align your event goals with your business objectives 

Sales kickoffs are an opportunity to do a lot of things. Be clear about what (all) you want to accomplish. 

  • Align the team with the sales plan for the coming year, new initiatives, and tactics to use to meet revenue targets.
  • Deliver critical messages and get everyone on the same page about what needs to be prioritized.
  • Celebrate past successes and reflect on lessons learned. 
  • Bring the team up to date on the new marketing messages. 
  • Educate about upcoming product updates and how to best pitch them to clients. 
  • Inspire the team to approach the new fiscal year with greater vigor.

For example – if your marketing strategy is changing in the next fiscal year or if your product is getting a major revamp, your event must have time dedicated to educating your employees about it. 

2. Host more frequent SKOs to engage remote teams 

Make your SKOs quarterly rather than annual. With a virtual platform, you can easily move to a continuous virtual sales training program that happens quarterly, instead of doing a grand, once-a-year SKO. This will give you the opportunity for more regular check-ins with your team. And for reviewing progress from the last SKO as well. 

Also, consider adopting a hub-and-spoke model to host regional SKOs that are smaller in scale and more targeted in their messaging. This way you can personalize the content as well as the key message you want to deliver to a local team. 

Virtual sales kickoff

3. Build excitement 

Just because it’s an internal event doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advertise it. Give your team reasons to look forward to it. Share the agenda. Send teaser videos about any guest speakers or internal sessions you want to highlight.

Set up your event page at least 2-3 weeks ahead of time. Continue to send regular updates about anything new you add to the event, such as interesting contests to enter or polls and Q&As for the team to respond to.  

4. Make engagement and networking your #1 priority

Two of the biggest challenges of hosting a virtual SKO are a lack of audience engagement and a lack of opportunity to network. But with the right planning and the right virtual event platform at your hand, you can make it engaging, exciting, and energizing for your team. 

  • Sales teams are competitive. Create contests for engagement, which you can measure through the platform. Host a live dance-off competition, a non-work-ninja-skill talent show-off contest, or a sales pitch contest with quirky themes or hard-to-sell products. 
  • Combine the award and recognition ceremonies to celebrate last year’s successes with a virtual happy hour. 
  • Make sure you leave enough time on the agenda for people to chat in networking lounges. Schedule breaks throughout your event duration for networking. 

Virtual livestream session engagement

Choose a virtual event platform that gives you plenty of options, such as 1-1 video chats, banter in the breakout rooms, or theme-based lounges, for real-time networking. 

5. Gamify the experience 

Gamify sales training to make it fun and exciting by making your team members active participants rather than passive consumers. Sales teams are naturally competitive and love to win. For instance, playing Jeopardy with your team is a great way to get them involved in active learning while helping the trainers know what topics to focus on. 

Games are an effective and engaging way to impart training, assess knowledge retention, and identify learning gaps. Use the virtual event platform’s gamification features to encourage greater audience participation. Incentivize your audience by announcing exciting prizes for leaderboard winners.

6. Get bigger and better speakers 

If you’re no longer spending money on travel, you have the budget to get professional speakers on board to capture your audience’s attention. 

Going virtual also means you can get more executive participation in the event. They don’t have to be present at a venue or even be at the live event. A pre-recorded session that inspires employees will still go a long way to making employees feel special. Moreover, if you pre-record these sessions, it means that busy execs don’t need to make time to do the same speech for each region.

7. Plan short, high-quality sessions 

Sales teams are busy and they don’t want to spend all day attending any event. Plan your agenda for no more than 4 hours a day. Make sessions short and keep them interactive. Don’t keep any session longer than 20 minutes. 

Audiences today expect high-quality content streamed in an engaging manner. Use new methods and new tech to deliver content. Get a professional studio setup to broadcast your key speakers as well as your session hosts with multiple camera angles. Get professional hosts to facilitate conversations. Use custom branding options on your virtual event platform’s broadcasting studio to deliver a memorable experience. 

8. Keep the conversation going after the event  

Make event content available to your team as soon as the event gets done. Give them access to all that was discussed at the event as well as any additional reading or watching material that will help them be better prepared for the next year. You can share session recordings, presentations, revenue targets, team and individual goals, training or reading material, etc. 

Keep the event platform open post-event. 

  • Create a post-event survey seeking feedback from your team. 
  • Use it to reinforce your key messages throughout the year.
  • Engage with your team in long-term discussions on ongoing topics using the event feed. 

Try these 8 tips at your next online sales kickoff meeting to host a truly audience-friendly and impactful event. If you need help selecting the right virtual event platform and understanding how to best customize it for your internal events, book yourself some time to chat with a virtual event expert.