What is a sales kickoff (SKO)?

SKO is a time when sales teams learn about last year’s performance, celebrate wins, reflect on losses, recognize peers, discuss goals for the upcoming year, train on new products, understand company vision, and align on key initiatives.


A thoughtful sales kickoff (SKO) creates an informed, energized, connected, and aligned sales team.

Sales Kickoff

How to plan a sales kickoff?

Select the Right Theme

Invite the Right People

Create the Right Agenda

Build the Right Content

SKO has a theme that elevates and unifies the content being shares.


Themes common at SKO are “Changing the game”, “Winning cross-functionally”, or “Listening to the customer”. However, consider thinking about what your sales team needs to do ‘different’ this year and select a theme that inspires that change.

SKO needs the right people in the physical or virtual room. The structure of your company will determine the invitee list, but SKO should include every sales person and every person whose success is directly tied to sales performance.


SKO attendees always include the entire sales team. Most SKOs also include invitations to the CEO, industry leaders, functional leaders. Many SKOs will include representation from Finance and People teams. Increasingly, SKOs include select customers or company advocates.


One of the benefits of virtual SKOs has been more parts of an organization are ‘included’ in SKO – attending select sessions online. Sales leaders find ‘inclusion’ leads to elevated support and responsiveness throughout the year.

Each day should have a mix of content sessions, interactive experiences, and inspirational elements.


For content sessions, SKO should have at least equal focus on product enablement, selling skills, and customer acumen.

You can’t create all the content. Engage executives and rising stars in other functions to engage the sales team in focused, structured, high-impact sessions. The ideal session length is 30 minutes – with longer time only if driven by Q&A. Ask your presenters to leverage stories (rather than frameworks) and interactive presentations (rather than slides).

Why include customers in SKO?

One of the advantages of virtual SKOs has been the ease, efficiency, and impact of inviting customers to speak at your SKO. Customer-led sessions are among the most popular sessions at SKO – it is an opportunity for reps to listen to customers outside of a transactional environment. Customer-led sessions teach reps how customers think and why they make decisions like they do.

Consider inviting one or more customers to lead a 30-minute conversation on any one of these topics:

  • How we evaluate solutions?
  • What is our buying process?
  • What is the best ‘selling’ experience we’ve ever had?
  • Why did you chose to buy from us?
  • What could we (and other vendors) do better?

Why include outside speakers in SKO?

Another advantage of evolving your SKO format to include external speakers is to include people whose perspective is even broader than you or your customers.


Companies such as Google, Salesforce, and Amazon have used Teamraderie to bring outside speakers to lead kickoffs. Northwestern Kellogg research found including outsider perspectives led teams to generate 30% more and better ideas, and improved creative output of the most tenured team members most significantly.


However, be careful of simply hiring a ‘speaker’. University of Pennsylvania Wharton research reminds us that one-way conversations – whether virtual or in-person – reduce energy in a room and have low retention rates.

Many companies have converged on a format made popular by Teamraderie in which “outside speakers” lead highly-interactive discussions in a short-burst, narrative-centric format. Here are the three most popular “outside speakers” arranged through Teamraderie:

What if We All Wore Speedos at Work?

(Summer Sanders)

The four-time Olympic medalist and NBA analyst leads interactive discussion on ‘norms’ of winning sports teams – and what leads teams to perform above their level of talent.

Principles of Poker Applied to Sales

(Maria Konnikova)

The psychologist-turned-poker-pro leads interactive discussion with teams on how to apply principles of psychology and poker to more effective interactions with customers.

2022 Go to Market 'One Step at a Time'

(Matt Steffanina)

The world's most popular choreographer (13M YouTube, 7M TikTok) leads interactive discussion on imperative of reinvention. And Matt teaches your GTM team to dance...

How do you kick off a sales meeting?

It is important going into a sales kickoff meeting that you understand what your goals and objectives are. This will guarantee your sales kickoff is both productive and successful. There are two main goals that should be set.

Business-Oriented Goals

What do you want your sales team to accomplish this year?

Sales Kickoff Specific Goals

What do you want your sales team to accomplish this year?

Determining and staying true to those two main goals will help you discover what the sales kickoff event’s overall purpose will be. You want your sales team to walk away feeling confident in what is upcoming in the company and inspired to do better and be better as an employee.


Creating a sales kickoff agenda is a critical step to take in the planning process to be sure the meeting is rewarding. If everything goes according to the perfect plan but then no one takes away anything valuable from sales kickoff, then was it really a success? It doesn’t matter how long your sales kickoff meeting will be, it’s wise to schedule the most creative or mentally demanding activities in the morning when many people do their best thinking.


It has been found that having shorter sessions overall will help keep the attention of your sales team focused. Also, be sure to schedule regular breaks for attendees so they can do their own networking or mingling with other team members. Scheduling time into the sales kickoff to have the opportunity to have discussions also allows sales reps to develop friendships and professional collaborations.

What makes a good sales kickoff?

Choosing a theme for the sales kickoff theme has been shown to bring significant meaning to the meeting. This helps distinguish the main purpose of your event and helps keep the sales kickoff meeting on track. Additionally, it can impact your team to think more creatively and be ready to learn and share ideas, which will add lasting value to your employees and your company.

Focusing on networking opportunities and building community fun is a key part of forming and executing a good sales kickoff meeting. Some options for creating an enjoyable experience can include: bringing in a motivational guest speaker, having a video presentation, presenting skits, or playing games

How to make SKO interactive?

Reps want to interact with other reps. Interactivity will break-out content-centric sessions and create valued social connection.


Sales people focus on creating customer relationships most of the year. As a result, SKO is also a rare moment to (re)generate bonds with other sales personnel and other people in the company. Beyond creating the social fabric of your sales organization, the SKO interactions are vital for helping reps find the support, encouragement, and ideas they will need to succeed.


Washington University research shows interactivity at work leads to not just better employee well-being, but measurably higher productivity and performance.

Here are some highly-interactive elements for your sales kickoff:

Host a Virtual Coffee Tasting

Attendees are sent kits with coffees. A top barista leads an interactive tasting and how to ‘characterize’ coffee.

Schedule a Virtual Happy Hour

Attendees are sent kits with cocktail elements. An acclaimed cocktail expert teaches team how to ‘taste’ spirits.

Schedule a Virtual Happy Hour

Attendees are sent kits with cocktail elements. An acclaimed cocktail expert teaches team how to ‘taste’ spirits.

How to make SKO motivating?

A well-designed SKO can help reps see beyond personal quotas and tap into intrinsic factors that drive performance.

SKO and Creating ‘Purpose’

By effectively connecting reps with mission, sales teams feel greater ‘purpose’. MIT Sloan research found intentionally-designed events can create 3X higher purpose at work.

SKO and Building ‘Motivation’

By aligning a team around goals, sales feels more ‘motivation’. Stanford research found those elevated in ‘purpose’ outperform all other employees, including those high on ‘passion’.

Here are three ideas to build purpose and motivation at your SKO:

Bring world famous gymnast Nadia Comaneci to SKO

In the Teamraderie “Reimagining Perfection” experience, Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner join your sales team live. They lead an interactive discussion in which the fundamentals for success in gymnastics are applied to sales. This experience is often used to reinforce a SKO theme of ‘cross-functional’ discipline.

How to Make Any Team Perform Better

In the Teamraderie “NASCAR” experience, Andy Papathanassiou joins your sales team live. He explains how he re-invented the pitstop in NASCAR and creates a dynastic organization. You can compare ‘lessons from the pitstop’ to how you collaborate with customers.

How to make SKO special?

If you’ve already scheduled your sales kickoff and are looking for an experience that will add value, this just might be the solution you are looking for!


Teamraderie offers inspirational and innovative team-building experiences to add value to sales kickoff meetings.


Teamraderie has developed a groundbreaking and fresh way to expand commitment, connection, and trust in a team. Our research-based experiences will prove that your team loved the experience and as a result, felt more cohesive, connected, and inspired.


Read other teams’ success stories here.


By participating in a Teamraderie sales kickoff experience, your sales team will be in an environment where they can communicate comfortably and authentically with each other.

How does it work?

We have access to some of the world’s most acclaimed professionals (authors, athletes, musicians, professors) who lead live, interactive 45-minute experiences with teams. During the experience, your team is encouraged to participate actively and genuinely engage with each other.

We have removed all the complexity that might be involved in planning another piece of your sales kickoff. Now that your event is almost all the way planned, all you have to do is:

Pick an Experience

You can browse all of our experiences here.

Filter our experiences by ‘audience’ and ‘outcome’ to find what fits your team’s needs.

If you want to make one less decision, you can also have your team vote for what experiences they are interested in. Get started here.

Reserve a date and time by selecting “View Availability” on each experience page.

Pick a date & time

Customize the experience kit

Select any special items to be sent to your team to enhance their experience.

We’ll take care of the rest!

Invite your team

Whether your sales kickoff is virtual or in-person, we join via video meeting (Zoom, Teams, WebEx) on the date and time you need. Then, watch as your team builds a connection that lasts.