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Meeting & Event Planning

How to Plan the Perfect Sales Kickoff Meeting (SKO)

Posted January 21, 2022 By Convene

When you think of company-wide sales kickoff meetings, you may think of elaborate multi-day productions, where entire teams are flown to destinations to discuss and set the business tone for the year. But does this still define what it means to execute a successful sales kickoff meeting in today’s climate? We have our doubts. 

After supporting hundreds of clients all over the globe, we’ve learned that this traditional approach has become less and less necessary, and in some cases, less preferred by attendees and organizations alike. In its place, we’re seeing clients host hybrid sales kickoff events that are safer and more cost-effective, while reaching a wider audience – without sacrificing productivity or engagement.

Below, we outline our top tips and tricks to plan your next (and best) sales kickoff event taken from our recent Convene Masterclass on “Planning the Perfect Sales Kickoff Meeting.” Hosted by Convene’s Senior Strategic Account Executive Rachel Levy and Director of Sales Engineering Rich Lopez, these guidelines will help motivate, inspire, train, and kick off your sales team for a successful year ahead.

Step 1: Establish Your Goals

A sales kick-off is an annual meeting for sales teams around the world, typically held at the beginning of the fiscal year or quarter to get the momentum going. Before taking the first step in planning your event, however, think about what success looks like for you and your team. Is it by getting the most stakeholders together in the same room? Or is it by moderating as many meaningful engagements as possible? Once these goals are set, think about if this sales kick-off event would be most effective as an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event.

Here are some goals to consider while planning your sales kick-off meeting:

  • Purposeful company training focusing on education
  • Bridging the gap between remote and onsite employees
  • Building excitement and boosting moral to last throughout the year
  • Networking – both structured and unstructured moments that can lead to unplanned genius

Step 2: Create an Agenda and Think Through Your Program Elements

Once your goals are set, the next step is to dig into the programming elements to put together a thoughtful agenda to achieve these goals. 

Visualize your event from start to finish: 

  • Is there a keynote?
  • Who are the speakers and what are their topics?
  • Are there breakout sessions?
  • What is the format of the program elements (whole group, small group, virtual, pre-recorded)?
  • What content will be presented and what resources does your team need to put those presentations together?
  • How will you build in breaks throughout the event?
  • And how will your event incorporate entertainment and leisure alongside these details?

By focusing on the details and planning your content in alignment with your business objectives, you’ll understand what you need from a production and venue standpoint, which is the next step in the planning process. 

Pro Tips:

  • Remember that emotions are contagious and that the agenda should focus on reigniting energy after a tough two years.
  • Choose a fun kick-off meeting theme idea. Get attendees amped up weeks ahead with creative sales meeting ideas, backed by sneak peek content, personalized videos, and experiential elements.
  • Avoid data dumping. Instead of overloading your attendees with information, think about getting your attendees up and active. These don’t need to be elaborate, or expensive, and can be as simple as stretching, breathing, or planning easy team-building exercises.

Step 3: Lock in Your Venue and Partners

Picking the right venue can create lasting memories and holistic experiences through an elevated environment, for both your speakers and attendees. And as the planner, it can also be the difference between a seamless and stress-filled programming experience.  By booking the wrong venue, you may be faced with event limitations that might require you to bring in additional production partners, ultimately taking away from the company budget and event experience.

For instance, Convene offers 23 physical spaces with in-house event technology, food and beverage services, a dedicated onsite production team, and our own virtual meetings platform. This provides planners with an all-in-one solution making it easy to offer a consistent guest experience both virtually and onsite. We take care of every component behind the scenes, from setting up the equipment, personalizing your event website, moderating your events, and even pre-recording your material. Learn more about Convene Studio offerings.

Before booking your venue, consider:

  •  What is the “wow factor” that this venue can help me achieve?
    • More engagement
    • Breakout rooms
    • Pre-recording (testimonials, personalized greetings, etc.)
  • Does the venue have the technology to turn my meeting hybrid?
  • What’s the in-room AV tech needs I’ll require?
  • How much tech support do I need before and during the event?
  • What will my agendas look like for virtual and onsite attendees?
  • Will I need a technical onsite team to run the equipment?
  • Data Analytics: How can this venue help me measure the success of the event?

Step 4: Go Hybrid

Last, but definitely not least, our top recommendation for planning a successful sales kick-off is to go hybrid. Virtual and hybrid events are the most effective way to engage your audience during a time when 76% of companies are shifting to hybrid working model, allowing attendees the continued choice in how they attend and participate in the programming.

In addition to employee satisfaction, here are some of our top hybrid events benefits:

  • Save time: Planning an in-person kick-off event in 2022 can be more time-consuming than ever before. Hybrid events cut down travel expenses while making content accessible by all at a later time.
  • Better communication: Hybrid allows for wider communication with remote team members, especially if the company has employees across multiple offices or time zones. Bigger discussion groups make for better ideas to be exchanged, and a virtual component can make it easier to share and save information.
  • Scalability: If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s the ability to pivot and be flexible to avoid new challenges. Hybrid events eliminate the need to reschedule or cancel events, and can help planners meet their business objectives no matter what obstacles may arise.

Your sales kickoff meeting, whether it be virtual, in-person, or hybrid, is a critical opportunity to rally your team behind your company’s key objectives in 2022. With over a decade of experience working with meeting and event planners of all levels, Convene creates the spaces and experiences to help companies succeed. To learn more, book a demo with us today.


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