Sales Kickoff SKO

Engaging Experiences to Jump Start Your Sales Kickoff

All the tools you need to engage your sales team, set goals and start your year strong.

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What is a sales kickoff (SKO)?

An 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 the company vision, and align on key initiatives.

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

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Sales Kickoff

How to Plan a Sales Kickoff


Select a Theme

Your SKO should have a theme that elevates and unifies the content being shared.

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


Invite the Right People

The structure of your company will determine the invitee list, but your SKO should include everyone whose success is directly tied to sales performance.

You may also want to include invitations to the CEO, industry leaders, and functional leaders, representation from finance and people teams, and select customers.

Virtual SKOs allow more parts of an organization to be included, which leads to elevated support and responsiveness.


Create an Agenda

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

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

Interactive experiences create connections on your team to unite toward a common goal, and inspirational elements set that goal to work toward.


Build Your Content

While creating all the content for your SKO may seem like a daunting task, you can engage executives and rising stars in other functions in focused, structured, high-impact sessions. 

These sessions don’t need to be too lengthy. 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).

Should I Include Customers in our 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 your 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.

Hostage Rescue: An Exercise in Strategy and Teamwork

Collaborating as a team requires a unique set of talents. Despite your team’s distinctive skill sets, there are abundant lessons that might be drawn from the mission planning and operational assessment skills used within the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams.

One Step at a Time – A Lesson in Choreography for Business

Matt Steffanina, the world’s most popular choreographer and the person behind the moves of Taylor Swift, Snoop Dogg, and Jason Derulo, will join you live. Matt will lead a live and interactive discussion about the parallels between choreography and business.

What If We All Wore Speedos at Work?

Four-time Olympic medalist Summer Sanders joins you live. She will discuss three norms of high-performing athletic teams – willingness to be vulnerable, accountability for action, and shared mindset – and help your team apply those ideas to their work.

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 company to accomplish this year?

Sales Kickoff Specific Goals

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

What do you want your sales team to accomplish this year? What about your company as a whole?

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 the 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 mingle 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 Your SKO Interactive

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

Salespeople 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.

Have a Virtual Coffee Tasting

Coffee tasting, an activity once reserved for baristas-in-training or caffeine aficionados, a virtual coffee tasting can be a team activity that helps everyone to focus on what’s in front of you.

Schedule a Virtual Happy Hour

Your team can enjoy happy hour while learning together and celebrating shared values. Whether or not you drink alcohol, you’ll find our happy hour events to be as inclusive as they are engaging.​

Share International Snacks

If you’re looking for a yummy and engaging snack time event for your team, discover Teamraderie’s Snack Break experiences that are sure to be enjoyable while your team builds even better connections.

How To Make Your Sales Kickoff Motivating

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

By effectively connecting reps with the mission, sales teams feel greater ‘purpose’. MIT Sloan research found that intentionally-designed events can create 3X higher purpose at work. By aligning a team around goals, sales feel more motivated. Stanford research found those elevated in ‘purpose’ outperform all other employees, including those high on ‘passion’.

Make Your 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.

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. 

All you have to do is:


Pick an Experience

You can browse all of our experiences here. You can also take our quiz to find the perfect experience for your team!


Choose a Date & Time

Reserve a date and time by selecting “Get Started” on each experience page.

Customize Your Kit

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

Invite Your Team

We’ll take it from here and handle the rest! 

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.
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