A sales kickoff meeting (SKO) is important for you and your team to find alignment and ensure everyone’s on the right track, and it’s also a great opportunity to encourage and motivate the team to continue performing at a high standard. For this reason, in the early stages of a new project, SKOs are essential because they allow the team to strategize exactly what needs to be done, by when, and by who to execute the project successfully. 

Setting out these critical steps and how the team will work together to achieve them will also help boost morale and motivate the group as a whole. Understanding all the moving parts of a project will allow you to gain a broader view of it, instead of each team member working on their individual responsibilities and losing focus of the overarching goals. 

Since sales kickoff meetings are an essential energy boost for the team and a great opportunity to find alignment, this article is going to outline why SKOs are so important and how to level up your next SKO, and we’ll provide you with some SKO templates you can use with your team. 

What is a sales kickoff meeting? 

A sales kickoff meeting is an annual meeting used for the team to go over the project strategy, build excitement around new deals, offers, or products, motivate one another, and highlight outstanding performances. While SKOs tend to take place at the beginning of each fiscal year, some organizations prefer to host an SKO for every new project that is to take place. While each organization may conduct sales kickoff meetings at different times of the year, these meetings serve the same purpose, which is to ensure everyone understands the strategy, goals, and responsibilities involved in the success of the project and is feeling motivated to meet goals and deliver a successful outcome. 

Motivate each other

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4 reasons you should have a sales kickoff meeting

1 Fosters motivation

Sales kickoff meetings foster motivation across the whole sales team. There’s something special about approaching a new goal with the team and gaining an understanding of how each person contributes to the team’s collective success. Sharing the team’s successes, sharing inspiring stories, or hosting guests also helps to make employees feel encouraged and prepared to tackle the project ahead. 

2 Promotes alignment  

Going over the details of the project ahead and how each phase of the project will move the team closer to their goals promotes alignment across the sales team. When individuals understand the ‘why’ behind their daily tasks, these tasks will have a deeper meaning because employees know how they are contributing to a larger goal. Moreover, the team understands what their colleagues are working on and why, which means the group can collaborate and support one another. This deeper understanding of the project aligns each team member on the purpose of their work and provides a broader view of the project and its goals. 

3 Creates positive relationships

SKOs also foster the development and maintenance of positive relationships. This type of meeting creates a great opportunity for individuals to connect, network, and build relationships with other sales professionals. We often work with a network of individuals we may not know on a personal level, which is why it’s great to get everyone involved in the project in the same room (in person if possible, and leveraging technology if not). Working on each part of the project becomes much easier and much more effective when there’s a solid foundation established with other team members. These positive relationships also help with creating a trusting and empathetic environment, which is essential for productive collaboration. 

4 Increases excitement and energy  

We’ve all been in inspirational meetings that make us feel like we’re floating after we exit the meeting room. These kinds of meetings truly leave you feeling energized and excited for the rest of the day, and sometimes even for the rest of the week. An exciting presentation, story, or speaker is extremely effective in creating a positive and encouraging energy that’s shared amongst the team. You should incorporate tools that create excitement into your SKO to leave the team feeling inspired and encouraged to achieve their best. 

6 ways to level up your next sales kickoff meeting  

1 Define clear objectives and goals

First and foremost, define extremely clear objectives and goals. Your team needs to understand why certain objectives need to be completed to achieve organizational goals. If people don’t understand the ‘why’ behind their work, it will be much more difficult to find their motivation and to be productive. Make sure you and your team are aligned on the strategy, goals, and objectives. Where these specifics aren’t clear, take the time to clarify and re-define components of the project as necessary. Unless each part of the project is clear and understood, you’re sure to face challenges that could have easily been avoided. 

2 Create and share a meeting agenda

When your employees or coworkers attend a meeting, the expectation is for it to be organized and productive, which includes having meaningful conversations. To accomplish this, you should create and share a meeting agenda. If you’re not able to come up with content to make up an agenda, it’s likely the meeting could have been an email. When an effective meeting agenda is created in advance and collaborated on, the likelihood of the meeting being effective is much greater. Unless you have a meeting agenda prepared before everyone comes together to meet, there’s no point in having the meeting at all. Be sure to create your meeting agenda ahead of time so you can send it to your team and ask them for their suggestions, which should also be considered for inclusion. 

3 Use technology to your advantage

Technology plays a central role in our lives, so you may as well use it to your advantage and incorporate it into your sales kickoff meeting. Think about ways you can use different platforms to share live polls, ask questions, give suggestions, compete in interactive games, or track the agenda items as you move through the meeting agenda. Having a main screen and using technology will keep attendees engaged with something to look at and engage with. Whether you’re keeping track of questions asked during the meeting and sharing them onscreen to address them after, or using graphics to show the topic you’re on, be sure to use technology to keep the team alert and engaged. 

4 Be intentional with the meeting invite 

Send the meeting invitation far ahead of the meeting and only invite individuals who actually need to be there. Sending the meeting invite with lots of notice means people will have the time to read, digest, and prepare for the meeting, which will make for much more meaningful conversations and more productive outputs; this is going to promote collaboration and increase learning opportunities. If someone isn’t an essential part of the project, spare them the meeting invite. We’ve all been in a meeting that didn’t have anything to do with us and it’s frustrating because that time could have been used much more productively. Being invited without being required disengages and frustrates employees. 

5 Get creative with your approach 

Get creative with the way in which you organize the meeting content. It can be really effective to open a meeting with a short video that engages the audience or by using an inspirational quote that sets the tone for the rest of the discussion. Make sure you’re selective with your approach and that the content relates to the discussion you’re about to have—otherwise, it won’t be engaging or effective. You can also think about inviting a guest speaker to participate in the meeting. A guest speaker is especially effective for virtual SKOs because they promote engagement and boost interest. Leverage your network and think about any stakeholders who may provide value to your audience. 

6 Share a success story

Sharing a success story can be really effective for motivating your team. Your SKO is the perfect opportunity to celebrate wins and share success stories; this can mean sharing customer reviews, taking a few minutes to reward accomplishments, providing recognition, praising successes, and inspiring the team with real stories. The successes can be shared from within the sales team or from customers or stakeholders. Be sure to include multiple success stories when you have the opportunity to do so, because highlighting the outcome of your team’s hard work will be effective for motivating them and creating a positive energy that is carried with participants, even after the meeting has ended. 

Sales kickoff meeting agenda templates

Parting advice 

Sales kickoff meetings set the tone for the development and progress of any sales project. For that reason, it’s extremely important that these meetings are engaging, encouraging, and effective in getting the whole team on the same page. Plan your SKO well in advance so you can put together an engaging presentation and include suggestions from the rest of the sales team. Optimize your next SKO by incorporating these functional tips and tricks and by testing out some of our sales kickoff meeting agenda templates!