Swag bag? Check. New product demo? Check. New go to market plan? Check. SKO is the event designed to celebrate a sales team’s success, provide training for newly launched features, and align on goals for the coming year. It’s an opportunity to give teams the tools they need to reach quotas and crush targets.

In the past year, the biggest challenge for many enablement teams was shifting the SKO experience online using video and live streaming. Keeping a sales team engaged during back to back presentations is hard enough. Throw in a distributed team tuning in from home and it’s a whole other ball game.

So how do you run a successful (virtual) SKO? In this article, we’ll walk through 8 steps you can take to maximize the impact of your next kickoff long after the event ends.

What is an SKO event?

SKO stands for sales kickoff. It’s an all-day, sales enablement event designed to bring the sales org together. Sessions cover best practices, product updates, customer stories in addition to team bonding activities to jump start a new sales year.

What’s the value of an SKO?

There are two main benefits to a sales kickoff. First, it aligns the team on important company goals and targets. Second, it’s the perfect venue to provide tools, demos, and talks that motivate and excite sales to go out and sell.

While beautifully crafted presentations, team building exercises, and comprehensive training are all a must, the most important part of an SKO is providing actionable ways for teams to reach their goals. The last thing you want to hear is that your sales team feels SKOs are a waste of time that are better used for customer calls and selling.

Training events like SKO can positively impact business KPIs. Research from The Bridget Group indicates more than half (55%) of sales people lack foundational sales skills. Training is imperative on many levels. While high performing sales reps bring in big deals, reporting shows a 5% performance gain from mid pack sellers can yield almost 70% more revenue compared to a 5% performance gain in the top 20% of sellers (The Bridge Group, 2018). It’s more important than ever to keep the entire team engaged and productive.

That’s where video comes in. Creating a dedicated video library with resources and follow-up materials in addition to regular workshops will help the team retain and leverage all the great things they’ve learned.

How to run an SKO

1. Define your SKO goals

Before diving headfirst into the planning stage, align teams on the purpose and goals of the event. For example, if there’s a business goal of reaching millions of closed won deals over the next few quarters—leverage your SKO as a way to empower your team. Provide context, resources, training, and a timeline to help your sales organization understand what success looks like so they can grow the business.

2. Align sales and marketing teams

Sales and marketing alignment are critical for revenue generating businesses. But sometimes, it can be hard for sales, marketing, and other teams to work in tandem. A common friction point between sales and marketing is lead generation and qualification.

So how do you bridge the gap between these two orgs? First, invite your marketing team to the SKO. This will help the sales team understand how marketing plans to reach new customers. It will also provide marketing with an easy forum to field feedback and questions.

Need a way to get teams talking? Try different icebreakers and virtual networking activities to break up more information-heavy sessions.  And be sure to build in communication tools when going live. If you plan to have a virtual component to your SKO, leverage live chat and Q&A tools to foster communication. Rite Aid was able to build highly engaging town halls to reach their associates across the globe.

“Our first town hall on Vimeo was a pivotal moment that allowed us to reach more associates than we ever could through live, in-person events. People were excited to engage in a modern, easy, fun way.
Peter Strella, Director, Communications & Creative Media Services at Rite Aid

3. Curate the SKO agenda

Keep your agenda short and relevant. As a starting point, focus on how you want the sales teams to feel. Shawn Fowler, SalesLoft’s Director of Sales Enablement, suggests planning your agenda by answering three questions:

  • How do I want the team to feel when it’s over?
  • What do I want the team to do when it’s over?
  • What do I want the team to know it’s over?

Additionally, schedule sessions in a way that builds on team excitement and momentum. For example, start off with a high level keynote from an executive. Highlight employee success stories to set a positive tone throughout the day. Then, close out the night with employee awards and recognition.

Make sure information is succinct and digestible. Split content into different sessions depending on the topic like what’s working, what’s not (yet) working, customer communications, and productivity strategies. Combine that with role playing, group exercises, and a few guest speakers to build engaging and diverse experiences.

Finally, get the team excited by sending out the agenda a day or two before.  If you really want to get creative, create a basic event landing page with the full agenda, schedule, music, and a video recording from leadership.

Rethink your training program

Learn how video can support your employees to learn and grow together wherever they are with our comprehensive guide.

4. Check your tech requirements

Before going live, make sure you have the right equipment to produce a seamless experience. Here’s a quick list of things you’ll need to live stream an SKO:

  • Audio mixer, switcher, and encoder. The audio mixer, switcher, and encoder all help you capture the audio and video sources to broadcast out to your audience. Just remember to test your setup.
  • Camera and tripods. A camera is essential to record all the video content from your SKO. Mount your camera on a tripod for a steady capture. If you plan to use multiple cameras, pre-set them on tripods positioned for your desired shots.
  • Lighting. Lighting is key for illuminating your speakers. Natural sunlight is an easy and free way to get beautiful light on any speaker. The challenge is keeping sunlight controlled. A light bounce or reflector can help fill in shadows to create more even lighting. You can also consider ring lights to support different lighting environments.
  • The right streaming platform. When evaluating streaming platforms, consider your content and team interactivity. Launching a poll? Moderating a live Q&A or chat? You’ll want to invest in a platform that supports your SKO plan.
  • Privacy and security. Security is paramount when it comes to internal communications. Be sure to use a solutions with robust security features like SSO and permissions based access to content.
  • Closed captions. Accessibility is key when trying to reach a wide audience. Be prepared by providing closed captions for all your video content. Bonus points if your team can search the content post-event!
  • Production team. Managing a virtual SKO can be intimidating, especially during your first go. Consider investing in a professional team to help you impress your employees and give you peace of mind.

New to live streaming? We have a beginners guide on how to live stream and a handy list of equipment to review before taking your SKO online. 

5. Test your virtual SKO experience

Aim to run through the entire cycle of your SKO beforehand. Play all your content including video, graphics, and polls. Have your presenters participate so they’re familiar with both the flow and logistics of the event. 

6. Welcome feedback

Give your teams the opportunity to provide feedback post-event with a survey, NPS, or a follow-up meeting. Including rating options for training sessions and team bonding activities can help you optimize the agenda and content for the next event. This lets your team know that you care about their experience and are constantly looking to improve. The feedback also provides a benchmark to understand how successful your SKO enablement plan looks over time.

7. Create a video library of SKO content

When training your global team, reinforcement is essential. Studies show that without reinforcement, 87% of training can be lost within 90 days.  Providing follow-up materials and creating resources like a dedicated video library will help the team retain and reuse information for later. You can even implement regular workshops to refresh and refine learnings post-SKO.

“Being able to present and store videos and live streams on a branded, Netflix-like homepage allows us to deliver important messages in a way that captivates our team and makes it easy to find relevant content fast.”
Rainar Aasrand AV Engineer, Wise (formerly Transferwise)

8. Don’t be afraid to get creative

At the end of the day, you want your SKO to be inspirational and actionable. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Give your SKO a theme. Send champagne or swag ahead of the date. If you plan to host an awards ceremony, send physical awards and a personal note to top performers. The goal is to make it as engaging, fun, and inclusive as possible!

Once we had a tool like Vimeo, the focus on content became much, much easier. What it really did for our team was boost our creativity. Because we could share content in HD, we were sharing marketing ads, commercials, and Q&As to build engagement and have a dialogue.
Joel Basa, Creative Services Manager, Paychex

Wrap up: Go big for SKO

A high performing sales team is critical for a successful business. Live streaming your SKO can help you reach your team across the globe. And while there’s no magic bullet for retaining training and programming, a video library can ensure resources are accessible wherever and whenever your team needs them most.

Power you sales team with video