This post was originally published on lessonly.com.
If you’re a sales leader, your world doesn’t include just four seasons. Instead, there are five: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and sales kickoff season.
While your sales team has probably brought everyone together to share best practices, product updates, sales strategies, and to build team camaraderie countless times, this year’s SKOs look drastically different. We’re living in a virtual world. No more travel. No more team off-sites or all-team meetings in the office. We have no choice but to pivot. But, that doesn’t mean it’s time to panic.
Over the last few months, our team has worked with sales teams across the globe, and we’ve heard some awesome ideas that have really rocked their virtual sales kickoffs. Here are some of our favorite virtual sales kickoff ideas to consider for your own event.
Reinvent the essentials
While a virtual SKO may have a lot of key differences from your normal SKO, there are plenty of best practices you should still keep in mind.
Plan, plan, plan: First things first: You need to make a plan. Virtual kickoffs should have the same thought and intentional planning process as any in-person event, if not more. Give yourself plenty of time to figure out when you’re going to hold your SKO, how long will it last, and what you need to cover.
Decide on new objectives and goals: Your team likely won’t be able do everything you would normally do during an in-person SKO. So, take a step back and revisit your goals and objectives. What do you want your sales team to walk away with after the event? What are your short and long-term goals for your sales team in the year ahead?
Include the right people: Every great sales kickoff needs all of the right people in the room… physically or virtually. Aside from your sales team, who else from your company do you think needs to be part of the event? Perhaps you want to include teammates from product or marketing to talk through roadmaps or upcoming campaigns. Or, maybe you’d like to highlight a customer or two.
Figure out your budget: It’s easy to assume that going virtual doesn’t require a budget. You don’t have to pay for an off-site location or bring in food for the team anymore, right? Wrong. There are still costs behind creating a good experience. Work with your finance team to decide on a budget that gives you room to bring in a great outside speaker or send small gifts to your teammates for an enhanced virtual event.
Map out the format in a virtual setting: Virtual SKOs include a lot of logistics and details, so take the time to figure out what the process will look like virtually. Will your SKO be a day-long event? Or, do you want to break it up and schedule it over the course of a few days? Do you have a global team that includes multiple time zones? Be sure to create a format that works for your entire team for maximum participation and engagement.
Finalize the agenda: Your virtual sales strategy meeting agenda is important. What do you want to prioritize? How will you encourage collaboration and fun during the event? A great kickoff agenda can include everything from keynotes and panel discussions, to workshops and team-building activities. Once you’ve finalized your agenda, be sure to share as early as possible with the rest of the team so they know what to expect.
Deliver content that matters
Each SKO gives your team an opportunity to deliver important information around new products, services, and go-to-market strategies. So, it’s important to deliver this content in a way that’s relevant and useful to team members. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to delivering content effectively and efficiently.
Consider a blended approach: Now that you’ve decided on your sales kickoff agenda, take a look at what content can be delivered and available on-demand ahead of the event. Elearning is a great way to convey information, share reference materials, and measure learner engagement ahead of your virtual kickoff. This enables teams to maximize their virtual event time by discussing complex topics, answering questions, and fostering conversations.
Feature amazing presenters: Virtual SKOs are the perfect time to get that guest speaker that you always wanted. It’s easier than ever to connect with keynote speakers from virtually anywhere, which means you can feature thought leaders and industry experts around certain topics that your team really wants to focus on. It’s also important to feature great presenters who will ask questions and engage the audience during their presentation.
Leverage pre-recorded sessions: We all know that there’s a lot of room for error when it comes to online events and conferences. To make your event go as smoothly as possible, look for opportunities to pre-record session content and simply hit play when it’s “go time.” Encourage speakers to wear the same outfit from the recording on the day of, and your teammates might not even notice.
Avoid an all-day event: A standard sales kickoff normally lasts an entire day or even days. Virtual sales kickoffs shouldn’t take the entire day. If you feel like you have a lot of ground to cover, consider breaking it up and holding it over a few days, or be creative in other ways as you share content outside of the event. If you’re a larger company with offices in multiple time zones or countries, consider holding a few different sessions that are convenient for different regions.
Break-up sessions: Zoom and video meeting fatigue is very real. So, instead of making your sales reps sit through hours-long presentations, keep sessions short, sweet, and to the point. If you do have a session that will be longer or require reps to have their cameras on, be sure to share that information in advance so they can plan accordingly. Also be sure to give your team plenty of breaks in between sessions. If you’re worried about grabbing their attention after a break, include poll questions or award points to those who join the next session on time.
Encourage active participation: It’s easy to resort to standard PowerPoint presentations during virtual calls. But, we’ve found that the most engaging SKOs include enhanced content like live polls or knowledge checks, and active practice sessions that participants can enjoy instead of just listening to someone else present.
Include practice exercises: We truly believe that the best sales teams practice. Period. So, look for ways to leverage practice scenarios and peer-to-peer feedback during your virtual sales kickoff. For example, if you’ve got a new product or service launching, ask each rep to record themselves pitching a demo on it. Then, create a fun bracket where teammates go head-to-head during various rounds until the best pitch wins.
Reinforce content: A great SKO delivers results, but learning shouldn’t stop once the event is over. Record each session and share them with the team after the event so they can revisit content as they want. It’s also beneficial to use on-demand sales enablement software to create and deliver ongoing training content on topics that were covered during the sales kickoff.
Maximize team engagement
Your virtual SKO plays a critical role in sharing important work knowledge and encouraging camaraderie. Instead of holding yet another video call where everyone turns off their camera and goes on mute, consider these tips that will encourage your team to stay engaged and excited.
Be creative: Your virtual kickoff is a great opportunity to have a fun and unique theme. Think of a sales kickoff theme that’s motivating, inspiring, energizing, and personal for your team. Then, work with your organization to create supporting creative assets or branded swag.
Go social: Encourage your teammates to go social throughout the event. They can post selfies online and share key takeaways during the event that can be displayed on a virtual social wall for the entire team to see.
Don’t forget the details: Simple touches and little details go a long way for a virtual sales kickoff. Ask your team to join the meeting wearing their favorite hat or color. Or, consider creating a shared playlist that everyone can add their favorite song to, and play it during breaks.
Make your team feel special: Sales kickoffs are a great time to celebrate your teammates. By adding in a virtual awards element into your agenda, your team has a great opportunity to acknowledge hard work and spotlight some of your best reps. For added engagement, ask your entire team to vote on winners of some fun awards like “Best Team Player” or “Funniest Teammate.”
Prioritize camaraderie and socializing: Whether you want to include fun icebreakers for meetings or plan a fun shared experience, it’s important to find time for team bonding. Consider giving your teammates a grocery list so everyone can cook a shared meal together. Or, really embrace the WFH situation and plan an activity that also includes the kiddos and other family members.
Get feedback: Be sure to send a survey at the end of every virtual sales kickoff to get feedback from your team. Ask your team to rate the event on a 1-5 or 1-10 rating scale to see how much they enjoyed it. It’s also a great idea to provide a free response area where reps can share their favorite elements of the event, and what they’d like to see during future SKOs.
Your virtual sales kickoff really is an opportunity to knock the socks…or slippers…off of your sales reps. And, there’s no playbook when it comes to hosting an awesome virtual sales kickoff. So, get creative as you want. Try new things, and most importantly have fun. Good luck!
Ready to rock your virtual sales kickoff? We can help.
Lessonly’s by Seismic is the perfect tool to optimize your virtual SKOs. Sales teams use Lessonly to provide pre-training content, practice key skills, and reinforce knowledge. Get a demo to learn more.