Sales KickOff: 3 Proven Strategies for Planning a Successful Sales KickOff

Planning a sales kickoff? Explore essential tips, themes, and virtual ideas to motivate your team and set the tone for success. From interactive activities to recognizing high performers, make your event memorable and effective.
Sales Kickoff

Are you planning a sales kickoff? These five tips will help you succeed when planning a sales kickoff event. We’ll show how to make your event a success, from engaging your attendees to properly preparing beforehand.

Each year presents a new opportunity to sales organizations to put their efforts into achieving their goals. A sales kickoff is a great way for everyone to get on board and motivated to achieve their goals.

We have tips, sales themes and a sample agenda to help you get started. Let’s start with the basics.

What is a sales kickoff?

A sales kickoff is an annual sales meeting that your entire sales team attends, usually in January. Your goals are to motivate sales reps, sales managers, and sales leaders, as well as lay out your strategy and celebrate successes. You set the tone for the next 12 months and get everyone excited about reaching their sales goals.

Sales kickoffs are a great way to boost morale, build trust, and rapport with your team members, as well as ensure everyone understands the year’s priorities. Here are some tips to help you plan a kickoff meeting.

Virtual Sales Kickoffs

Because of the pandemic, virtual events have become the norm. Your SKO event can be held online, so it doesn’t mean it has to be boring. It’s important to be creative and strategic in how you allocate your time. Here are some virtual sales ideas.

1. Include breaks

Zoom fatigue and slide overload are real problems. Allow your attendees to take short breaks between sessions. This will keep people from getting bored and unable focus on the presentations for long periods.

2. Make it interactive

Online events are more popular than in-person events. It can be difficult for people to talk for hours at once. It is important to include the audience. Although it is impossible to recreate the atmosphere of in-person gatherings, you can give people the opportunity to socialize in other ways.

  • Split attendees into sales teams to play a fun game. Incentivize them to participate with small prizes. Mock Shark Tank or other improvisational and pitching challenges would make a great match. Virtual escape rooms are a popular choice for team building.
  • Breakout sessions can be used for topic discussions and meet and greets. This will allow attendees to interact with each other.
  • Encourage people to ask questions. Allow people to ask questions via chat or the Emoji hand-raised.

3. Use engaging keynote speakers

A great speaker is essential for virtual events. Your stakeholders should work together to identify the best speaker or storyteller for your SKO planning sessions.

4. Make your presentation count

Engaging presentations will help you keep everyone’s focus at virtual events. Avoid too much text in your slides. Instead, add more video and other visuals whenever possible.

5. Send a swag bag

You don’t need to worry about the price. You can make your event more inclusive and cohesive by using a branded notebook and pens.

6. Recognize and honor high performers

Although you don’t necessarily have to meet face-to-face, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t recognize team members who are doing well. During your presentation, take the time to recognize and celebrate the achievements of the company’s employees.

Tips for Sales Kickoffs

1. Choose a motivating theme for your sales campaign.

Why choose a theme for your sales campaign launch? If your content all points back to the same central idea, it will be more memorable. This increases the entertainment value. Your theme can be enhanced with jokes, slideshows, and skits. A theme can also help you stay on track.

Too many kickoffs can cause reps to forget what they heard and lead to a lackluster outcome. Your kickoff should have a consistent theme.

But you shouldn’t just pick one randomly. Steve Martin, author and speaker of “Heavy Hitter”, states that the right theme is determined based on the morale of your company.

He explained that salespeople experience periods of high and low morale. “When morale is high, you can be more creative and take on greater risks.

Martin stated that a “Night at the Oscars” theme was one of the most successful sales kickoffs that he attended.

“Each region produced a video about a typical day of a salesperson. These videos were extraordinary, filled with humor and ingenuity. They were loved by everyone, and a panel made up of executives from companies that awarded Oscars to the most outstanding.

In a low time, however, being too extravagant would be a bad idea. Martin suggests that you use a more pragmatic theme such as “Better. Stronger. Faster” to deal with this situation. Are you considering a merger? You can choose a theme that emphasizes collaboration, such as “Winning together.”

These are some ideas to get you started.

The Justice League/The Avengers

Your top salespeople should be assigned a superhero persona. You can have them dress up in a costume and give a speech, or even a video, explaining why they are successful. You can have your presenters dress up as superheroes or take part in stage battles.

Star Wars

This theme is cinema-inspired, and will make your sales kickoff an unforgettable experience. Every host and sales leader should have a character. If you want to make it funny we recommend asking Darth Vader’s manager for a Darth Vader character.

“Beat [Competitor]”

Do you have a clear competition in the market? This is your chance leverage that competitor. A common enemy is a great way to rally your sales team.

Use a theme that emphasizes defeating the competitor.

Back to the Future

This fun theme will get you riding in the DeLorean. Marty is your loyal, smart, and enterprising salesperson. Doc Brown is their brave manager. Biff is their rival company.

Returning to their time zone equals their sales targets.

March Madness

Each sales team should be assigned a NCAA team. Then, let them compete in the kickoff to advance into the next round. The basketball theme can be kept going throughout the event.

Your presenters can dress up as coaches to calm the crowd. As prizes, give out basketball tickets.

Home Run

A baseball theme is another option, especially if you want your focus to be on “home runs”, which are both the ones you hit last season and the ones you will hit next year.

Inspector Gadget/The Pink Panther/James Bond

You can make it more mysterious and entertaining by choosing a spy theme. Your team’s “gadgets”, also known as their phones, CRM and CRM, and laptops are their smartphones, laptops and other gadgets. Their mission: To exceed or hit their annual quota.

[Your Company Slogan]

Consider making your company’s tagline or slogan your kickoff theme.


Divide people in sales teams. Give salespeople “challenges” during the kickoff to evaluate their product knowledge, selling skills, engagement, and other aspects of the session. Jeff Probst, Survivor host, may serve as the kickoff’s emcee. The kickoff ends with a prize given to the team members who have the most points.

2. Create a sales kickoff program

Salespeople want to learn from the top performers in their industry so they can replicate that success. These stories are both inspiring and informative. This is why you should schedule up to three panels for your top-performing salespeople where they will discuss their biggest deals, how they got started, the process, and any obstacles.

Include at least one session for tactical sales training. Salespeople who succeed never stop learning. Give them plenty of new insights and techniques to try out in the new year.

Networking is another important aspect of a great kickoff. Your sales team will only be together for this one time, so make sure they make the most of it. They can make connections that will lead them to mentorships and informal peer learning, friendships, deal collaborations and even friendships.

Also, you must include high-level content such as the performance of sales org and company last year, and your strategy and sales goals in the coming year. These sessions bring together everyone so you can be as efficient as possible.

Day 1

Welcome/breakfast The host introduces himself and goes over the agenda. This gets everyone excited. It is always a good idea for your guests to have some food. A good breakfast will make them more focused.

Year in Review – Discussion about last year’s numbers, as well as the highlights and lowlights for major companies and product developments.

Training/breakout – Reps form small groups to receive skills based training. To ensure that training sessions are based on familiar concepts, send pre-work.

Lunch This is a great way to build relationships with salespeople. Encourage mingling.

Marketing update This is the CMO (or Vice President of Marketing) who covers the initiatives their department has in place for the next year and how they will assist Sales to make more sales.

Optional Live Call A top performer will conduct a call to a prospect. Unscripted conversations are far more engaging than recordings or recorded presentations. It is also a great way to make the kickoff memorable and engaging.

Have fun networking – Take advantage of the energy from your last session. Ask reps to identify real and fake customers in order to win a prize in a Jeopardy-style contest.

Competitive review Have the Sales Enablement team discuss the top competitors, where they pose a threat and where their strengths lie. To make it more interactive, each person can play the role of a competitor.

Group dinner– This is another great way for your reps to meet new people, greet old faces, and have some fun while having a lot of fun.

Day 2

A brief introduction/breakfast: This session should cover the day’s plans quickly.

Reps do not need product updates to be helpful. This tactical content will help you position new features, add-ons, and offerings.

Breakout session To build on the previous session, reps should break into small groups led by a facilitator or sales manager and then complete a role-playing and training module.

Lunch: Use the same principle as yesterday’s lunch. If possible, encourage cross-team mingling. You can also use this time to present awards to top managers or reps from last season.

Training session Prepare another skill based lesson or exercise for this part of kickoff.

This presentation is intended primarily for? Motivate your reps. There are two options. You can either hire a guest speaker, or invite a high-performing representative from your company to speak. It is important that they are motivating and can relate well to the culture of your company.

Closing remarks: Have someone give an overview of kickoff and remind everyone of the year ahead.

Many companies host three-to five-day kickoffs. This is a bad idea. It is unlikely that all sessions will be relevant or useful for everyone. People want to get back to their daily lives and responsibilities. If the agenda items are not suitable for you, you can swap sessions.

A session on CRM might be an idea. This could include tips and tricks, how to navigate it, best features, and expert tips. Perhaps you are interested in discussing a current industry trend. HubSpot representatives could, for example, learn how they can talk to EU prospects about General Data Protection Regulation compliance.

3. Incorporate training, presentations, and team-building activities

After you have finished the training and content, schedule time for fun, team-building, and social activities. This will allow your team members to get to know one another and spend more time outside of the office. Here are some suggestions:

Happy Hour/Fun Activity: A happy hour without alcohol is possible for those who don’t drink. You can also host an activity. You can offer paintball, laser tag, or a cooking class to your salespeople to get them talking and working together.

Dinner is an optional activity. If they wish, you can let them go home after the previous activity. It is nice to gather everyone for a last meal, especially if there are people who live too far away to travel home.

SKO sales representatives will be able to recall it

Every sales team is unique so you need to tailor your event to your culture and goals. These guidelines will ensure reps not only get a lot of information, but also enjoy it.


You are now able to organize a sales kickoff. However, it is important that you remember that engaging execution and thoughtful planning are key components to a successful event. All three should be included in your kickoff. This will ensure you start the year off with a bang.

Follow up on your event by asking participants to give feedback, following up on sales results and looking for ways to incorporate sales kickoff messages in the new fiscal year.


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