In the post-Covid environment, convening for an Annual Sales Kickoff (SKO) is more important than ever. Creating the most impactful content is a vital part of setting your sales team up for success as they prepare for the upcoming year. A key goal is to engage your audience: it’s essential the sales team comes away feeling inspired, and ready to lead, guide and consult your customers.
Coming out of the pandemic, new data has emerged that is worth incorporating into your event. Whether you’re bringing your sales team together to share best practices, launch new products, refresh sales strategies or motivate your team to hit the ground running, consider these engagement trends:
What’s new in your world? We all know that business has changed because of the pandemic – from new collaboration technologies, to supply chain challenges and job burnout. Have your brand initiatives or team priorities changed in the last two years? Like many organizations, the answer is probably … yes. How are you weaving those new initiatives into the messaging at your Sales Kickoff?
- What metrics for success do you want to communicate at your SKO?
- How can you align the priorities of individual salespeople with the organization’s overarching goals?
- If you’re launching a new product or sales tool, how can you make your sales team comfortable and confident in what they’re selling?
- Are there change management or engagement considerations to be addressed?
Rightfully so, every organization is focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Your SKO is a great opportunity to “walk the talk” and put DEI initiatives into action. How can you make your event more inclusive?
- Take neurodivergent learning styles into consideration.
- Offer training to tackle implicit bias and build an accepting, welcoming work environment.
- Examine how diversity drives innovation.
- Be open with your messaging about how you’re showing up as a company – everything from what’s going well, to continued areas for improvement.
The abrupt shift to remote work created an overarching culture change for organizations around the world. Have your internal teams and processes changed? Other job functions, like Product, Technology and Production may be more integral to the sales endeavor than ever before.
With an increased remote-work force, are there challenges you’re facing that need to be addressed? Top companies are paying attention to job burnout, the importance of mental health and the family needs of their employees. Help your teams feel purposeful about the work they’re doing – connecting your sales teams to the “why” of your business goes a long way in boosting fulfillment and engagement.
SKO’s have a reputation for being long days of endless meetings – but it doesn’t have to be that way. A well-planned agenda should communicate your organization’s year-long strategy and goals. A solid theme, built around your brand and objectives is a great start. In addition to education and training, be sure to leave intentional time for people to connect with others. Some factors to consider:
- Start with the big idea! Creating an event theme with the right tone and energy is the foundation for a successful messaging campaign. Engage creative experts here. Your theme and subsequent program marketing touchpoints are critical to building inspiration and engagement.
- Consider your event communications through a 360-degree lens. Your event takes place during a set timeframe but be sure to use the time before your event to build interest, and post-event to keep the conversation going, ensuring your messaging stays top of mind well into the year.
- If you’re planning to have a guest speaker (industry thought leaders, customers, etc.), ensure they’re in sync with core messaging themes for the integration of knowledge and cohesion.
- Keep it interactive! Create teambuilding opportunities for your participants to meet new people and catch up with old colleagues. People want to be connected – to learn, to share, and to have small team conversations.
- Celebrate successes in new ways and be sure to focus on team accomplishments and not just individual successes. By recognizing team structures, you can embed appreciation and empathy into your organization.
- Individual achievement can also be recognized but by focusing on team accomplishments, you’re creating a culture of “we’re all in this together.” As Aristotle said, “The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts”.
After your Sales Kickoff has concluded, the impact of the event has only just begun. Don’t forget about post-event communications – keep the conversation going throughout the year and keep your team aligned with the goals and strategies you discussed together. An integrated, ongoing messaging campaign is a critical step in communicating the next steps for your sales organization. Oh, and have some fun, too!