How to Create a Seamless and Effective Virtual Sales Kickoff

By Mike Nelson, CEO,

The sales kickoff (SKO) is a great opportunity for sales leaders to gather their teams and share important and exciting information – motivating, educating, and aligning the sales force around common goals.

Normally, sales kickoffs are hosted in person. Of course, COVID-19 has restricted the ability to travel and gather – leaving sales leaders to figure out how to host successful SKOs that will inspire their teams to crush quota in 2021. While sales teams undoubtedly prefer to meet in person, virtual SKOs offer a set of unexpected benefits, including accessibility, customization, and relevance.

However, making a virtual event seamless, engaging, and fun requires more than good technology. Here are a few ways to help your virtual SKO this year run as smoothly as possible.

Separate Your SKO from Sales Training
A good SKO shouldn’t feel like sales training. It should promote networking, team building, goal setting, and having fun. Format your event to encourage participation in multiple ways, such as through Q&As, brainstorming sessions, or interesting speakers. Separately, schedule time to deliver necessary training and education. If the team should come prepared with new knowledge or information, provide it to them before the event through a live or recorded Webinar. This way, attendees are free to get the most out of the event you’ve planned for them.

Prepare for Technology Issues
In today’s virtual world, you can expect technical difficulties to happen – and you should plan for them.

First and foremost, find a technology platform that offers day-of support to manage disruptions. Another way to mitigate the risk of tech challenges is to schedule different session formats throughout the event. For example, mix and match pre-recorded sessions with live ones, keeping in mind opportunities for highest engagement. Plan short breaks between sessions to give yourself time to deal with the inevitable without throwing off the entire day. This way, if one session has a technical glitch, you have time to recover without cutting into the next one. And, finally, if you’re experiencing live stream delays, stay calm and focused on the content.

Engage New Team Members
During the pandemic, many companies have been able to sustain their businesses, and even hire new employees. However, onboarding these new hires looks a lot different in a virtual world. As a result, they are likely missing out on critical opportunities to connect and learn.

Use the time leading up to your SKO to help new team members better integrate with the organization. One opportunity is to implement a mentorship program within the office. Assign each new employee a senior member from within their department, which will help them build personal connections with coworkers who can educate them about the office and its culture, goals, and expectations. This way, new members feel empowered to participate in the SKO – making it a better experience for everyone.

Make Your SKO Fun and Unique
At their core, SKOs are meant to be fun, engaging events. Go beyond icebreakers, networking, and speakers to incorporate other activities that encourage genuine participation and make a virtual event worth joining. Many traditionally in-person activities have adapted to a digital format and can be just as fun. For example, ask a magician or musician to perform (and invite families to join!), take a yoga break, or even host a casino night. After the daily programming ends, create space for more casual socializing by hosting a virtual “happy hour” where attendees can join with their favorite drink and snack from the comfort of their own home.