Sales Kickoffs: The mistake you’re making when planning your SKO

Sales Kickoffs: The mistake you’re making when planning your SKO

Categories: Company Alignment  |  Sales Kickoff

Check out all our great virtual sales kickoff resources and tools in the Ultimate Sales Kickoff Resource Guide.

The sales kickoff meeting is the yearly tradition in many sales organizations. They've been happening for decades. Some of them are legendary and you've probably shared a story or two with your colleagues about what happened when. "We were in Las Vegas around 2001. The meeting ended around 5 and then we went out...." Yeah, we've heard that one too.

Jokes aside, the sales kickoff is often the one chance sales leaders have to get the momentum going at the beginning of the fiscal year. Past quarters are behind us and the SKO is a time to start fresh, right the course and chart the path towards increased sales productivity and revenue.

The challenge? Too much focus on the event and not enough on the purpose.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the event logistics. After all, they're time consuming. But before you worry about meals, hotels and PowerPoint decks, focus your team on the outcomes you're trying to drive with the event.

What would make this sales kickoff a success?

Below are some things to think about as you focus on the purpose of the event.


The purpose of your event is likely very relevant to your business. The challenge with an SKO is that you likely have a wide-range of roles represented in the room. The key to keeping focus on the event's purpose is to ensure that relevancy is part of the presentation. Perhaps you're launching a new product or a new sales process. Think about how you're going to present that information in a way that has relevancy and consumability for those in the room.

How does this concept relate to your SDRs/BDRs? How does it relate to account teams? Your field reps? Then, ensure there is relevancy to the roles presented during each section of the training. If your company will have more than the sales team present (and a lot do), consider if it's even worth it to have cross-functional teams in the room. If not, save the money. If it is, make sure the presentation accounts for the different functions. You may want to consider a "role breakout" session that ensures relevancy to the position. Remember, if what you're presenting is not relevant to what each audience member does every day, they will tune out. Your event may still be compelling, but without the desired outcomes.

10lbs of Stuff in a 5lb bag

We use this concept a lot. Don't pack too much into the event or your participants will miss its purpose and it will never achieve what you need it to. Here are some options to consider that will lighten the load:

  • Pre-work opportunities that maximize time spent at the actual kickoff
  • An earlier manager training that ensures your front-line managers are equipped to reinforce any concepts rolled out at the SKO.
  • Follow-up virtual learning sessions that reinforce "the asks" during the SKO

What Happens Next?

In the flurry of planning event, it's easy to forget what's needed to ensure success after the event. If you're rolling out a new initiative, you want to have a plan for reinforcement and adoption after the event. Your plan for what happens after the SKO is just as or perhaps even more important as what's happening at the event. Remember, the success of the event is tied to its purpose. It's difficult to achieve the purpose if you don't have a follow-on plan.

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