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Going into the new year, hosting a sales kickoff (SKO) is a great opportunity to rally your sales and marketing organization around your latest company strategies, plans, and best practices. 

If you're looking to get started, you've come to the right place. In this article, we'll show you some best practices and tips on how to host a virtual sales kickoff that drives revenue.

In this article

  1. What is a sales kickoff (SKO)?
  2. Main objectives of a sales kickoff meeting
  3. Virtual sales kickoffs
  4. Organising a virtual sales kickoff for global teams
  5. Choosing a ridiculously fun theme
  6. What should be included in a sales kickoff
  7. Choosing your virtual event tech stack
  8. Live translation for your global teams
  9. Hosting a memorable SKO

What is a sales kickoff (SKO)?

Usually taking place in January, a sales kickoff is an annual meeting for your entire sales or revenue team. Depending on the size and location of your sales organisation, the meeting happens either at an event venue, online or in a hybrid setting and can last one or two days. 

Main objectives of a sales kickoff meeting

  • To motivate your sales reps, managers, and revenue leaders;
  • To lay out your company, sales, and marketing strategy;
  • To celebrate major wins of your company;
  • To get the entire organisation fired up to hit their goals.

Virtual sales kickoffs

If your sales organisation is distributed across multiple countries, hosting your kickoff virtually is your most cost-effective and sustainable option on the table. While it brings a number of benefits, of course, it also comes with its challenges to keep in mind and find ways to overcome.

Benefits of virtual sales kickoffs:

  • Significantly lower costs from not bringing out your entire sales team to your location;
  • Presentations and talks are easily recorded and used later;
  • Easily provide live translation through closed captions, or simultaneous interpretation to help everyone understand the presentations;
  • Ability to measure engagement and feedback throughout the event through polls and surveys;
  • By removing the need for travel, your sales organisation can contribute to your company's climate goals.

Challenges of virtual sales kickoffs:

  • Meetings by chance don't happen unless planned for with breakouts and virtual social activities;
  • Harder to get excited and rally around a virtual event, due to the lack of physical activities and goodies;
  • Less buy-in on the theme as reps don't have as much of a reason to be excited.

Organising a virtual sales kickoff for global teams

As the world has shifted to favour more hybrid and virtual events, you may wonder how you can successfully create a virtual experience that gets your sales teams motivated to hit their targets in the new year. Hosting a virtual sales kickoff is not that much different from hosting it in person. You will want to keep it digestible, engaging, fun and to the point. 

Now, let's dive right in!

Choosing a ridiculously fun sales kickoff theme

Giving your sales kickoff an overarching theme helps make your content more engaging, and memorable and makes it more entertaining. A theme also helps you keep your event on track. For every segment and aspect of your kickoff, you can reference the theme - all the way from a swag back, to dress code and jokes during the keynote.

"Heavy Hitter" author Steve Martin recommends choosing a theme that reflects your organization's morale. As all sales forces go through periods of high and low morale, setting the right mood is key. "When morale is high, you can be more creative and take bigger risks with the theme you choose", he explains.

Here are some fun ideas for your kickoff theme:

  • Night at the Oscars
  • Star Wars
  • Back to the Future
  • The Football World Championship (dividing your teams into regional football teams to spur a little friendly competition)
  • The Avengers
  • Coachella (or give it a spin with your company name, i.e. Interprechella)

What should be included in a sales kickoff meeting

Remember, what you want to achieve with your kickoff: motivation, celebration, strategic alignment, and fun. With these four goals in mind, design an agenda of activities that help you get there.

Key components of any great sales kickoffs include:

An amazing keynote speaker

At any event, great speakers are important, but in virtual ones they are an absolute must. Is there anyone in your organisation who could deliver a killer keynote speech to get things started? Or do you have the ability or budget to hire an inspiring speaker from the outside?

Learning from the heavy hitters

Every sales organisation has their top performers and their reps that still need a little help. Your salespeople want to learn what the top people do, so they can achieve the same success and climb the ladder. Schedule a few panels where your heavy hitters share the story of how they landed their biggest deals. Give your salespeople the chance to learn and ask how they started the sales conversations, what the process looked like, which obstacles they had to overcome, etc.

Tactical training sessions

Include at least one tactical sales training session. There is always room to grow and learn, so create an opportunity for salespeople to get new insights and new techniques to try in the new year.

Networking opportunities

Hosting your sales kickoff virtually means, there is little room for chance encounters, so you will need to create room for them. These can take on many forms: Virtual coffee breaks, happy hour, speed dating sessions, games, quizzes, etc. Helping your sales staff to get to know each other can lead to mentorships, deal collaborations, or informal peer training, just to name a few benefits.

Marketing update

Invite your CMO or Head of Marketing to cover their latest insights, results, and initiatives for the upcoming year.

Sales-focused product training

Invite your product team to train your salespeople on your products and present the roadmap for the year. But ask them to focus not only on what the updates are, but how reps can position the new features, and offerings, to help close more business.

Competitive review

Discuss with your team what the competitive landscape looks like. Who are your major competitors? Where are they a true threat and where do they fall short?

Choosing your virtual event tech stack

When designing a memorable virtual experience, choosing your tech stack wisely is key. Invest in technology that ensures Zoom fatigue doesn't spread, and provides both a great user experience, and best-in-class engagement features.

There are hundreds of virtual event platforms out there to choose from, many even designed specifically for virtual sales kick-offs.

Features to look out for:

  • A dynamic event home screen/lobby option
  • Option to create a fully branded experience around your theme
  • High-quality live streaming
  • Breakouts
  • Options to include live, simulate, and video-on-demand sessions
  • Polling and surveying options
  • Registration and engagement tracking
  • Professional support in preparing and hosting your sales kickoff
  • Gamification options
  • Networking possibilities
  • Easy-to-navigate resources library
  • Integration with multi-language live captioning technology
  • Integration with simultaneous interpreting technology
  • Integration with AI speech translation.

Live translation for your global teams

When you have global teams you want to engage make sure your carefully crafted messages are understood by everyone. Remote language interpreting technology and services, as well as AI-translated captioning technology make it a breeze to add real-time translation to your presentations and keynote speeches

Remote language interpreting for sales kickoffs

Bring experienced pro-interpreters into your sales kickoff meeting, who interpret your presentations and speeches in real-time. They can be located anywhere in the world, and deliver interpretation for any language and onto any meeting platform

Live captioning for sales kickoffs

Another way of providing live language access for your salespeople is adding automatic live captioning to your sales kickoff. With services like Interprefy Captions, these can be automatically generated, and automatically translated into the language of your salespeople's choosing. Captions will not only help increase knowledge retention but can also be used to overlay your on-demand videos with subtitles after the kickoff.

AI speech translation for sales kickoffs

AI technology also allows you now to bring live speech translation of the presentation in over 80 languages in a more cost-effective way. This solution is quick to setup and allows great flexibility, as you can add languages at short notice.

Hosting a memorable virtual SKO

Every sales team is unique. If you tailor your sales kickoff to your teams' culture, your org's morale, and your sales goals, your reps won't just absorb a lot from your event - they'll enjoy it, too.

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Patricia Magaz

Written by Patricia Magaz

Learn about the latest developments at Interprefy by Patricia Magaz, Global Content Manager at Interprefy.