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7 Ideas for An Engaging Sales Kickoff

Thursday December 9, 2021

Keynote speaker giving a presentation in front of a group of salespeople at a sales kickoff (SKO)

Sales kickoffs (SKOs) are incredibly beneficial opportunities to align your team, help them thrive, and understand the full meaning of their work.

An SKO brings your team together and energizes them to make sales. However you decide to host it, your kickoff event ideas should ignite enthusiasm among your employees.

There are many ways to hold a virtual kickoff event if your team is distributed. However, whether team members are in the office, at home, or both, SKOs can bring your team’s strengths, interests, and values together to make them feel deeply fulfilled at work.

Here’s an overview of how to throw an engaging SKO, and some ideas for succeeding both virtually and in-person.

7 Sales Kickoff Ideas

Are you searching for innovative and exciting kickoff event ideas? Here are seven tips and best practices to help you be intentional about your next SKO:

1. Prioritize Identification of Team Purpose

Stanford University researchers found that employees who have a strong sense of purpose outperform their peers, regardless of their level of passion for the work they do. This means that even if employees aren’t particularly passionate about their job, if they understand and believe in the purpose behind it, they are more likely to be motivated and achieve success.


An SKO presents an ideal platform to emphasize your company’s mission and ensure that every member of the team connects with it. It can align everyone’s goals and objectives with the overall purpose of the organization, fostering a sense of unity and shared vision among team members.

2. Leverage External Perspectives

Leveraging an outside perspective, such as a keynote speaker, can help your team learn and apply valuable lessons to their jobs.

Be careful of simply hiring an outside speaker, however. University of Pennsylvania Wharton research suggests that one-way conversations–whether virtual or in-person–reduce energy in a room and have low retention rate.

Here are three tips for maximizing the value of outside speakers:

  • Hire inclusive speakers: It’s important to ensure that any speakers brought in are inclusive. Harvard Business Review (HBR) suggests that speakers who use inclusive language are 22% more likely to be perceived as authentic.
  • Keep messaging concise: When it comes to virtual kickoff event ideas, consider that a digital environment leads to the need for more concise messaging. People can get distracted and off focus in a virtual situation, so keeping messaging brief is important.
  • Invite audience participation: Rather than only having a speaker go over a presentation or research, give the audience a chance to participate in what’s going on. When you give workers the ability to apply and practice what they’re learning, it keeps them engaged. Plus, it’s more likely to stick if a worker has the chance to do something on their own.

When properly implemented, an external speaker can make your SKO memorable and inspire your team as they enter the new sales year.

Teamraderie offers live virtual experiences from experts such as professors, entrepreneurs, Olympic athletes, and more. The interactivity of these workshops will help ensure that your team is involved and retains the information better than a keynote alone.

3. Focus on Connection

SKOs are excellent opportunities to connect with your team. Washington University research shows that interactivity at work leads to not just better well-being, but measurably higher productivity and performance.

If your team is virtual, you might have a harder time brainstorming ways to foster connection through the event. The good news is that connection virtually is absolutely possible with the right tools. Virtual team building events, for example, can help your team bond and foster an inclusive environment.

Teamraderie offers a wide range of team building experiences that are perfect for virtual SKOs and can help your team connect.

4. Set an Appropriate Theme

Now we come to virtual kickoff event ideas that you can use for your company. One great option is to include themed events. Choose something fun and relevant, share the theme, and make the theme a true part of the proceedings. Create virtual backgrounds for your video conferencing software and have a good time getting creative.

A theme and adherence to it can make everyone feel more connected. Another option is to create playlists related to the theme. Have fun choosing other ways to weave in the main focus of the kickoff event.

5. Create Games and Prizes

Another kickoff event idea to use is the inclusion of gamification and prizes. Everyone loves to play games, and it can engage those who might otherwise be quiet.

Having a few prizes for winners makes the event a lot of fun. Since people will be more likely to participate, they’ll retain more information and details.

For example, Teamraderie’s improv games experience is an excellent way to learn important skills such as empathy, trust, and collaboration.

6. Involve Your Entire Team

Finally, make sure the whole team is involved. That means the leaders should be a part of things too.

There are many reasons to incorporate leadership into your kickoff event ideas. However, the most important is that employees are more likely to follow the lead of their superiors.

Besides, if you create a great event, everyone will want to participate, no matter their role at the company.

7. Celebrate and Recognize Your Team

Make sure you choose things that will build morale and leave the audience inspired. As with an in-person kickoff event, you want to celebrate past success while motivating the team for the coming year.

Our virtual card game experience is an excellent way to facilitate this, as it requires each participant to recognize their team members’ strengths while expressing–and receiving–genuine appreciation.

Hosting a Successful Virtual SKO

In-person SKO tactics might not be appropriate for a virtual audience. At the same time, a digital event can be just as effective as one in-person, if not more so. There’s no reason to stop hosting them even if you can’t do it at an office.

It’s important to avoid simply transferring the traditional sales kickoff to an online platform. Instead, reimagine the kickoff as a fully digital event. Embrace the potential of online platforms for team-building and learning. You’ll still be able to perform traditional SKO activities such as recognizing achievements, fostering relationships, and motivating individuals for the upcoming weeks–they’ll just take place online.

Benefits of a Virtual Kickoff

When you’re thinking about kickoff event ideas, and you want to handle the process digitally, there are a ton of benefits. It might turn out that going remote actually turns out to be better than having an in-person event. We’ll walk through a few of the most important events below.

  • Virtual kickoffs are going to be less expensive than hosting an in-person event.
  • It’s easier to record and distribute materials and presentations when the kickoff is remote.
  • There’s no need to worry about travel time when the team members are logging in from home.
  • Technology can be used for engagement through games, polls, feedback, and surveys. This provides real-time feedback and interaction.
  • The lower cost of facilitating these events means you can have more of them in the same period of time.

One of the benefits of virtual kickoff event ideas is that instead of cramming numerous sessions into a single day, you can divide them into smaller parts that suit everyone. This reduces presenter fatigue and allows individuals from diverse locations to actively participate.

Maximize Your SKO With Teamraderie

If you’re searching for ways to make your next SKO memorable and effective, Teamraderie offers inspirational research-based team experiences that add value to kickoff meetings. We offer a format in which outside speakers lead highly-interactive live discussions with your team in a short-burst, narrative-centric format.

Our live, virtual experiences will help your team members strengthen connection to your company and purpose, see beyond personal quotas and targets and tap into intrinsic factors that drive performance.

Learn more about how Teamraderie can improve your next SKO, or check out our experience finder to filter your experiences by the outcome you’d like to improve.


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