Until recently, Sales Kickoffs (SKOs) were always held in person to create better alignment in teams. As we've shifted to remote working and virtual events, this traditional business event has also had to move online. If your business has decided to host a virtual sales kickoff and you're looking for some tips for success, read on!
It's true that hosting a virtual SKO will test your skills at organizing and managing a remote workforce but we believe that it's hard but it's not impossible.
Let's understand exactly what a sales kickoff is, why it matters and key tips to host the perfect virtual sales kickoff livestream.
What is a Sales Kickoff (SKO)?
A Sales kickoff is an event held at the start of a fiscal year for the entirety of the sales force in your business. When run successfully, an SKO allows your team to celebrate the successes of the previous financial year. It should also prepare them for the rigors of the year ahead.
These events are typically held in person. They give people an opportunity to network and develop relationships. In the past, it was not unusual for businesses to host these events at faraway resorts and luxurious ballrooms.
All that being established, over 70 percent of in-person SKO attendees considered their company event a disappointment. That's why it's important to lock in some clear objectives and plan well to keep employees engaged (especially in an impersonal, virtual setting!).
What's the purpose of a Sales Kickoff?
Defining success with an SKO is a difficult business. The truth is that a sales kickoff has a range of purposes and motivations. You’ll know better than anybody what you need from your SKO, but most businesses try to:
Align the sales team: Your company will have a new set of targets and priorities for the coming fiscal year. The sales kickoff is an opportunity to get everybody marching in the same direction. It’s no surprise cohesive teams are more productive.
Inspire the sales force: Working in sales is rewarding and engaging, but it can be attritional as well. Given the previous financial year will have just ended, the likelihood is your sales team needs a boost. This is a chance to get your team re-energized and ready for battle.
Deliver training and strategies: You’ll already be aware that the techniques and strategies businesses employ change regularly. If you want your sales team to produce the goods, give them the tools to succeed. A sales kickoff is an opportunity to provide training in an entertaining fashion.
Celebrate success: The challenging nature of sales—the knockbacks, disappointment, and neverending search for improvement—can be wearing. For that reason, make a special effort to boost employee morale by celebrating the successes of your team. The better your employees feel about their work, the better they’ll perform when hunting for leads.
Does fitting all these objectives into a single event feel daunting, especially in a virtual setting? Don't stress, it’s possible with the right approach.
What are the challenges of virtual SKOs?
There are many practical advantages for businesses when it comes to hosting a virtual livestream for an SKO. Shipping everybody out to a physical location certainly has its downsides. However, there are some sizable concerns as well.
Several concerns relate to the social aspect of the event. Some people feel less comfortable interacting with others over a video conferencing platform, especially true when it involves large groups.
Moreover, people tend to remember previous sales kickoffs. These might have had fun games, prizes, and social escapades. It's definitely tricky to recreate that level of engagement and entertainment in a virtual space. Fortunately for you, there are six strategies below that you can use to get the results you’re seeking.
Six virtual SKO livestream best practices
Let's dive into somes best-practice methods to ensure smooth sailing for this company event.
1. Set your SKO strategy
Before you think about the specifics of how you’re going to entertain or educate your sales team, or even get them all gathered on the same virtual platform, think about why you’re running this event. You need to have a carefully refined strategy in place for the coming fiscal year or you’re only going to confuse your workforce. Assess how you want your workers to feel and think after the SKO. Which areas of business strategy might you want to prioritize?
If you’re planning on integrating sales automation into your business, for example, that’ll be something to focus on. The last thing you need is to have your team confused about the state or structure of the team after your SKO. If they’re still asking basic questions like “what is robotic process automation?” you’re in trouble. Questions like that need answering during the event. Evaluating this will mean you’re better placed to fulfill your objectives by the end of the SKO.
2. Create hype among the team
A sales kickoff should be an event your team looks forward to and enjoys. Since it may be the first virtual SKO many people attend, you might have to put in some extra work to make sure they’re pumped for the occasion. Internal communications are the best place to start.
Try to communicate what attendees will gain from the event. That might be anything from professional development to fun games and prizes. Some businesses even use promotional videos in a countdown style to get the ball rolling.
Bear in mind that various teams and roles will be present, so try to pitch benefits for everyone.
3. Review your technical setup
No Zoom faux-pas, please! Your SKO livestream can be a technical challenge as you stream to hundreds of people at once. Pick robust tech infrastructure to make sure the video conference goes through seamlessly and without drop-offs.
Ideally, you need the SKO to wow your team too. Functionality alone isn’t a victory. Professional equipment, including high-fidelity audio equipment, high-resolution cameras, and a webcam light arrangement, could also feature in your list as you plan the event. These tools, possibly alongside a tech video assistant or in-charge will keep your employees engaged.
4. Test run your SKO
If you have a hiccup during the event, it could derail the SKO you’ve worked so hard to plan. It doesn’t matter how well-prepared you think you are, chances are you've forgotten something. That's why it's a good idea to host a trial session ahead of time to work out any issues.
5. Plan engagement levers
There’s no point pretending virtual kickoffs are the same as physical events. There are plenty of differences that impact how you curate your event.
Long, extensive sessions can get tiresome for viewers. To overcome this problem, split speakers and activities into shorter, more entertaining bursts.
Diverse video presentation methods and structures are more likely to keep people entertained and invested in your SKO.
If you're using Zoom, launch a poll to check in on how people are feeling and encourage questions from viewers to create a more immersive discussion.
If you'd like to repurpose sections of your webinar and promote it in future email campaigns, you can choose a CRM software like Hubspot or EngageBay that can easily promote videos via email. EngageBay's video content block automatically extracts a thumbnail image from your YouTube video and adds a play button icon to it, making it an easy call-to-action.
6. Encourage friendly competition and prizes
This shouldn't come as a surprise... salespeople are competitive!
Part of the appeal of a sales career is engaging in friendly rivalries with colleagues and business associates. Why not tap into that character trait to make your event fun?
Quizzes, polls, and other competitive interactions not only keep your team entertained but can offer educational opportunities. A first-class video conference set up will provide interesting ways for those watching and listening to get involved.
These situations also offer a chance to introduce prizes into the mix. These will raise excitement and anticipation for the SKO more generally.
Ready to host a winning virtual SKO?
Running a virtual SKO livestream doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember, if you’re going to get people worked up, engaged, and interested in what you have to say, you must provide value. Embracing video in a creative way and that will ensure everybody has a good time, all while learning about the state of the business for the year ahead. Don't forget to encourage feedback to get a sense of how your sales team is feeling after the event.
Good luck planning a successful virtual SKO!