How to plan the perfect sales kickoff meeting (SKO)?

Suppose you think about company-wide sales kickoff meetings. In that case, you might think of lengthy multi-day productions where whole teams fly to different locations to discuss and set the tone for the year. Is this still a good way to define what it takes to have a successful sales kickoff in today’s market? We aren’t convinced.

We’ve supported hundreds of clients around the world and have learned that this approach is becoming less and less important. In some cases, it may even be less popular with attendees and their organizations. Instead, clients are hosting hybrid sales kickoff events, which are more secure and cost-effective while reaching a wider audience without sacrificing productivity nor engagement.

Below are our top tips and tricks for planning your next sales kickoff event. These guidelines were derived from Convene’s recent Convene Masterclass, “Planning the Perfect Sales Meeting.” This masterclass was hosted by Rachel Levy, Senior Strategic Account Executive at Convene, and Rich Lopez, Director of Sales Engineering. They will inspire, motivate, train and kickoff your sales team for a successful 2018.

Step 1: Establish Your Goals

A sales kickoff is an annual meeting of sales teams from around the globe. It’s usually held at the start of the quarter or fiscal year to help get momentum moving. Think about your definition of success before you start planning your event. Are you able to bring the most stakeholders together? Is it about facilitating as many meaningful interactions as possible? After you have established your goals, consider whether the sales kickoff event will be more effective if it is held in person, online, or in a hybrid format.

These are some things to keep in mind when planning your sales kickoff meeting.

  • Education-focused company training
  • Bridging the gap between onsite and remote employees
  • Building excitement and morale to last the year
  • Networking – structured and unstructured moments can lead to unplanned genius

Step 2 – Create an Agenda and Think Through Your Programming Elements

After establishing your goals, it is time to look at the programming elements and create a thoughtful plan to reach them.

Visualize your event from start to finish.

  • Is there a keynote?
  • What are the topics, and who are the speakers?
  • Do you offer breakout sessions?
  • What format are the program elements (whole, small, virtual, pre-recorded, etc.)?
  • What content will you present, and what resources do your team require to create those presentations?
  • What will you do to take breaks during the event?
  • How will you incorporate entertainment and leisure into your event?

Focusing on the details and planning your content according to your business objectives will help you understand your production and venue requirements. This is the next step in your planning process.

Pro Tips:

  • Remember emotions are contagious and that your plan should be focused on reviving energy after two difficult years.
  • Pick a fun theme for your kickoff meeting. With creative ideas for sales meetings, supported by personalized videos and sneak peek content, get attendees fired up for weeks ahead.
  • Avoid data dumping. Instead of overloading your attendees, get them moving. These do not have to be complicated or costly and can be as simple as relaxing, breathing, or planning team-building activities.

Step 3 – Lock in your Venue and Partners

The right venue will create memorable memories and holistic experiences for your speakers and attendees. It can make the difference between a smooth and stressful programming experience. You could find yourself in a situation where you have to book the wrong venue. This can lead to event restrictions that may require you bring in additional production partners. This can ultimately reduce the event budget and impact on the event experience.

Convene has 23 spaces that can be used for events, including food and beverage, dedicated production staff and a virtual meeting platform. Planners have an easy way to provide consistent guest experiences online and off-site with this all-in-one solution. Convene Studio takes care of everything behind the scenes. This includes setting up equipment, personalizing your event website and moderating your events.

Consider these things before you book your venue

  • Is there a “wow factor” this venue can provide?
    • Engagement is more
    • Breakout rooms
    • Pre-recording (testimonials, personalized greetings, etc.)
  • Is the venue equipped with the technology necessary to make my meeting hybrid?
  • What are my in-room AV tech requirements?
  • What tech support will I need for the event?
  • What will my schedule look like for onsite and virtual attendees?
  • Do I need to hire a technical team onsite to operate the equipment?
  • Data Analytics: What can I do to measure the success of this event?

Step 4 – Go Hybrid

Our top tip for planning a successful sales launch is to use hybrid technology. Hybrid and virtual events are the best way to engage your audience when 76% are moving to hybrid working models. This allows attendees to choose how they want to attend and participate in programming.

These are our top hybrid event benefits, in addition to employee satisfaction:

  • Save Time: Planning an in-person kickoff event in 2022 is more difficult than ever. Hybrid events reduce travel costs while making the content easily accessible for all.
  • Improved communication: The hybrid communication system allows for greater communication with remote employees, particularly if they are located in different time zones or offices. Larger discussion groups allow more ideas to be shared, while virtual components can make it easier to save and share information.
  • Scalability – If there is one thing that the past two decades have taught us, it’s how to be flexible and pivot to avoid new obstacles. Hybrid events can be cancelled or rescheduled without any additional cost and help planners achieve their business goals regardless of what obstacles they face.


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