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6 Pillars of Planning Sales-Kickoff Events for 2023

If you’re planning an SKO next year, here’s an overview of key issues to consider.

At least three out of four sales-kickoff events in 2023 will have an in-person component, according to a poll taken during a recent MeetingsNet webinar. Attendees were asked which format they were planning to use for their upcoming SKO, and the results reveal a move toward in-person but also robust use of virtual-meeting technology.

poll results.pngFor webinar leader Alex Rolfe, vice president of sales, event solutions at Cvent, the poll results mirrored his company’s approaching SKO events. Cvent’s own kickoffs were strictly in-person before the pandemic and then fully virtual in 2021 and 2022. But the company will use a hybrid format in 2023, allowing it to bring people together but also extend the reach of the experience to those who can’t attend in person.

Rolfe shared a far-reaching presentation on SKO events, including content ideas, planning and execution strategies, and thoughts on sales representatives’ expectations. To start, though, he outlined six pillars for planners to consider as they organize their kickoff events for the year ahead.

1. Marketing and Communications
“Even though you're marketing to an internal audience,” Rolfe said, “it’s still highly important to build a communication and marketing plan.” Attendees don’t just need to know when and where the event is, but also what’s expected of them and what they’ll get out of it. The communications, he said, should “drive excitement.”

2. Venue
Like most events, the venue is a key focus for planners and can help set the tone of the experience. Will you gather at a hotel, conference center, corporate headquarters, or somewhere else? In addition, for the 25 percent of planners who will include a hybrid component to their SKO plus the six percent making it fully virtual, there’s the question of which technology will be used and the features needed to engage the audience.

3. Content
How will content be delivered? Depending on the goals of the stakeholders and the event’s format (live, hybrid, or virtual), planners need to consider various strategies for sharing education and information. Whether the event is live, pre-recorded, or on-demand, “there could be a combination [of strategies] based on the different sessions that you're hosting,” noted Rolfe.

4. Community
One of the most important pillars of SKO planning is community, Rolfe said. “Your company has a culture; your sales team has a culture as well.” And the community around the SKO “really helps to build that sales-team culture.”  And culture-building has become more critical for companies that haven’t held a face-to-face kickoff event in a couple years and for those that have adopted a distributed-workforce model. For many SKO attendees in 2023, it will be their first chance to meet colleagues in person.

5. Partners
Don’t forget your suppliers and partners in the SKO planning process. It is important, Rolfe said, “to drive awareness across your sales team of the partnerships that you have in place, and how [salespeople] might be able to leverage those with customers. So, there's a lot of education involved there. … Think about how you can incorporate who the partners are, what they do, and how they help your organization.”

6. Insights
Early in the planning process, think about what sort of data you're going to want to get out of the SKO. “As an internal event, it might not be the same ROI that you look for with an external event,” Rolfe said. “But there's certainly a lot of data that you're producing, and it’s data that you can track to measure and report on a return on investment.”

The full Sales Kickoffs in 2023 webinar is available for free on demand.


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