September 14, 2023
By John Hunter

The sales kickoff meeting, or SKO, enables you to bring everyone together, build a sense of unity, and refocus on goals for the year. It's the perfect time to introduce new products or information, offer fresh selling strategies, and recognize team members who have performed excellently. Your annual kickoff is the perfect time to set goals for your organization and the tone for the next 12 months. 

Before we think about your kickoff agenda, there is one essential component of a successful corporate meeting not to be forgotten: a memorable, engaging theme.  

Choosing a Theme for your Sales Kickoff

Why choose a theme? After all, this is a sales management event, not a birthday party. A theme is actually very useful and can accomplish a few different purposes.

1. Focus. First, it keeps your event focused. Instead of wandering to different topics, you can keep the event centered on the main idea, an over-arching goal. 

2. Memory. The Sales Executive Council claims that sales reps forget about 87% of the information and training they receive at a sales kickoff, but when they are entertained and engaged, they remember more, and a theme helps keep attendees entertained. 

3. Enjoyment. A theme lets you incorporate humor— jokes, contests, skits, video clips, stories, parodies, and more— and those bits of humor are priceless when it comes to keeping your salespeople engaged and positive. 

Helpful resources for selecting a sales kickoff theme:

Creating a Sales Kickoff Agenda

Long before the meeting begins, everyone should know what to expect. Whether you have an event app or not -- an easily accessible agenda is no less important. 

You'll want to follow a few agenda best practices:

  • Make your agenda accessible well in advance of your event (we recommend at least 2 weeks prior, but preferably even sooner.) Your employees will appreciate their ability to pre-plan!
  • Ensure that all attendees know which sessions or training are mandatory for them to attend. 
  • Make sure your agenda is available both on and offline. If using an event app, ensure that your provider has an agenda that is readily available with or without the Wi-Fi, just in case.
  • Ensure that you have a contingency plan for changes to your agenda -- how will you get the word out to attendees about changes? If your organization is smaller, email might work just fine! But, if your event includes hundreds or even thousands of employees, then a push notification to attendees about changes to the schedule may work more efficiently. Have a communication plan in place, no matter what the size of your meeting.  

Your agenda will look different depending on the number of days your event will last, your goals, and your priorities. However, here's a sampling of items to inspire your own SKO schedule.

Kickoff Introduction Items:

  • Keynote welcome from an executive at your company
  • A year in review— company and industry changes, struggles, or accomplishments
  • Housekeeping and safety announcements from event planners

Kickoff Content Items:

  • Training sessions
  • Updates from specific departments
  • Simulated sales scenarios (additional training and role-playing)
  • Review of competitors and industry rivals
  • New product overview and specification training
  • New service offering training and FAQ
  • Hands-on demonstrations and product training
  • Skills focus training from outside or internal speakers
  • Panel discussions with subject matter experts
  • Live question-and-answer sessions
  • Break out working sessions
  • Content recap, and closing statements
  • Closing keynote speaker 

Other kickoff items to consider:

  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner hour(s).
  • Icebreaker games and activities
  • Networking hour(s)
  • Live entertainment (comedians, music acts, etc.)
  • Happy Hours
  • VIP special activities or exclusive events

A meaningful theme and defined schedule can help with the success of your sales kickoff event. Above all, ensure that your SKO clearly states specific, numeric, achievable goals and that you give your reps the tools to reach those goals by including plenty of hands-on, skills-based training and product experience. Inject plenty of good humor and fun along with those essentials, and you'll have the makings of an amazing sales kickoff experience!

John Hunter

John Hunter

John is the Senior Manager of Event Cloud Content Marketing at Cvent. He has 11 years of experience writing about the meetings and events industry. John also has extensive copywriting experience across diverse industries, including broadcast television, retail advertising, associations, higher education, and corporate PR.

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