40 Ideas to Make Your Sales Kickoff Meeting a Raging Success

Hosting a sales kickoff meeting (SKO) costs a pretty penny.

Sending even one salesperson to a sales kickoff in Chicago ranges from $500 to $2,000 for airfare, meals, hotel accommodations, and ground transportation. That doesn’t even include event production costs (and inflation isn’t doing anyone any favors). 

Now, think of how many events you have attended that left you bored and zoning out. What a waste, right? That’s not what you want for your 200-500 person sales team in Chicago.

But what if all of your salespeople — the people who propel your company’s growth — learned while having fun? The odds of the salesperson using that content later increase exponentially. Interested? 

Here’s how to plan a sales kickoff meeting that leaves you reaping the benefits all year.

What is a sales kickoff meeting?

It’s a new year with new goals to meet and services to sell. But it won’t happen without company buy-in. SKOs are internal company meetings that provide the training and motivation needed to kick the year into gear.

SKO agendas often include the following: 

  • Review of last year
  • Plans for the upcoming year
  • Discussion of market dynamics
  • Overview of competition
  • Role-playing sessions to improve selling skills 
  • Internal business partner networking (including IT, HR, Marketing, and the like)

All your best brains are in one building during a sales kickoff meeting. There’s ample opportunity for sales greatness. But SKOs can go wrong if they’re not well-planned and engaging. This results in listless salespeople ready to bolt at the first opportunity.

How can you combat drowsiness and increase retention? Keep reading to learn how gamification can turn your SKO into a raging success:

What causes sales kickoff meetings to fail? 

To drive real success, be intentional in your planning and strategy.  Along with failing to meet your sales team where they are, this is often where sales kickoff meetings fall short. Here are five common pitfalls of SKO planning:

  • Poorly planned agendas can often leave attendees feeling confused, disengaged, and frustrated.
  • Failure to set and share clear goals before the sales kickoff meeting leaves teams struggling to meet expectations after the meeting.
  • Too much emphasis placed on product knowledge and not enough on how to sell the product through customer service and negotiation skills training hinders success rates.
  • Not enough post-SKO follow-up results in confusion about the next steps or how best to execute plans discussed during the sales kickoff meeting.
  • One-way presentations from leadership or executives exacerbate a lack of engagement during sales kick-off meetings without opportunities for salespeople to interact with the content and each other.
  • Relevance: Salespeople want to understand how the presentations relate to their day-to-day job and overall goals. 
  • Too much information: If you present too much content during the kickoff, all the new information without enough discussion or processing time may overwhelm your salespeople.
  • Lack of interaction: Without engaging activities, such as games, breakout groups, or networking opportunities, more entertaining options may distract your salespeople.
  • Keeping their attention: Since salespeople are usually on the go, they struggle to focus during long meetings.

Combine all those with their addictions to the computers everyone keeps in their pocket, and you may end up with salespeople checking their phones instead of paying attention.

Big Picture Ideas To Improve Your Sales Kickoff Meeting

With goals, objectives, and lack of interaction as the main problems with sales kickoff meetings, let’s start with ideas to improve your SKO. 

1. Set Clear Objectives

Define specific goals and outcomes for the kickoff meeting to ensure everyone is aligned.

2. Pick an awesome theme

Wrap your ideas into a theme that helps tie everything together for your sales meeting. Examples include: All Systems Go, Breakthrough, Accelerate, etc. (See 52 Themes)

3. Tell Stories About Your Company and Customers
    1. Success Stories: Share success stories from top-performing sales reps to inspire and motivate the team.
    2. Guest Customers: Invite satisfied customers to share their experiences and provide testimonials.
    3. Executive Keynote Address: Have the company executives deliver a motivating keynote address to emphasize the importance of sales.
4. Find an Inspiring Keynote Speaker

Invite a dynamic and inspiring speaker to deliver an engaging keynote address. This is typically an author, sports figure, or someone who climbed a mountain on a pogo stick.

5. Inspirational Videos

Incorporate motivational videos or success stories into the agenda to inspire the team.

6. Energizing Icebreakers

Start each day with energizing icebreaker activities to create a positive and engaging atmosphere. Some folks host a dance party or use a DJ to boost the energy in the room.

7. Interactive Q&A Sessions

Conduct interactive question-and-answer sessions to address sales reps’ concerns and provide clarifications. Do this at the end of each session. Even plant a few seed questions if you don’t get input immediately. 

8. Live Polling and Surveys

Use interactive polling tools or surveys to gather real-time feedback and insights from the team.

9. Team-Building Exercises

Incorporate team-building activities to foster collaboration and create a positive team spirit.

Ideas to Improve Product and Market Knowledge Training

Providing training on the market and products is essential for your SKO. You want to make sure that you hit the ground running here and make it rock.

10. Customer Insights

Share customer insights and feedback to help reps better understand customer needs and preferences.

11. Market Trends Analysis

Share insights and analysis of market trends to keep the team informed and ahead of the competition.

12. Market Analysis Challenge

Ask teams to analyze the current B2B products or services market trends, competitors’ offerings, customer preferences, etc.

13. Product Demonstrations

Conduct live product demonstrations to showcase new offerings and generate excitement.

14. Industry Expert Panel

Organize a panel discussion with industry experts to provide valuable insights and perspectives.

15. Cross-Team Team Building

Divide teams into smaller groups and have each group plan a creative introduction to the company’s B2B product or service to potential customers.

16. Pitch Presentation Challenge

Ask teams to create a presentation outlining the benefits of your company’s B2B product or service compared with similar offers from competitors.

17. Sales Collateral Showcase

Create a dedicated area to showcase sales collateral and materials reps can access and utilize.

Ideas to Improve Sales Skills Training

You constantly need to refresh and update your organization’s sales skills.  Improved sales skills will help your team create new opportunities and increase pipeline velocity. 

18. Peer-to-Peer Learning Sessions

Facilitate peer-to-peer learning sessions where sales reps share their experiences and learn from each other.

19. Live Sales Challenges

Introduce live sales challenges where teams compete to win new business or secure deals.

20. Expert Workshops

Invite external experts to conduct specialized workshops on negotiation, closing techniques, or other relevant topics. (examples include: Jill Konrath, Grant Cardone, Jeffrey Gitomer, Jeb Blount, and Mike Weinberg) 

21. Sales Forecasting Exercises

Engage the team in sales forecasting exercises to enhance their analytical skills.

22. Networking Opportunities

Create networking sessions to facilitate connections among team members and encourage knowledge sharing.

23. Sales Panel Discussions

Arrange panel discussions with top-performing sales reps to share their strategies and answer questions.

24. Innovation Showcases

Highlight innovative ideas or new approaches to sales that can drive performance.

25. Role-Playing Scenarios

Develop scenarios that mimic real-life situations your salespeople may encounter daily.

26. Negotiation Simulation

Create a negotiation situation between two “buyers” (played by your team members).

27. Customer Service Simulation

Work together as a team to role-play different customer service scenarios, such as dealing with demanding customers, handling complaints effectively, upselling products or services, etc.

Ideas to Improve Processes and Tools Training

Ensuring that your sales reps are using your technology tools and following your core processes is critical to the scalability of your organization. Here are some ideas to make this less of a drag. 

28. Sales Tools and Technology Showcase

Demonstrate new sales tools and technology to improve productivity and efficiency.

29. Sales Process Refresher

Review and reinforce the sales process to ensure a consistent and effective approach.

30. Sales Playbooks

Provide sales playbooks or guides that outline strategies, objection-handling techniques, and sales tips.

31. Stump the Expert Session

Have an open session where sales reps can stump the expert

32. Turn IT Security Training into a game

IT security training can be like going to the dentist. Some sales organizations turn it into a game, so it’s fun rather than feared.

33. Sales Team Presentations

Allocate time for individual sales teams to present their strategies, successes, and plans to the reps. These breakout sessions will be unique to each sales region.

Ideas to Improve Post-Event Followup and Retention

For most of you the post event is probably the greatest opportunity to improve your sales reps performance. Why? SKOs tend to be a tidal wave of information. Providing resources, webinars and followup helps reinforce your key messages. 

34. Publish reference materials and resources

Ensure everyone can access relevant materials and resources they need to succeed. It sounds easy. But many don’t do it. So, publish those one-pagers, tutorial videos, and other digital documents. It will help your sales team translate training into their day-to-day work.

35. Continue using your theme in post-event messaging

Since you created an awesome theme, continue to use it in your post-event messaging and follow-up. It helps remind the sales team of our great time at your event.

36. Followup Quizzes

Use trivia challenges to review action items discussed during the meeting because trivia can give you quick data to help you track progress.

37. Get Feedback from Attendees

 You probably already knew this one, but it’s worth repeating. Capture feedback by surveying your attendees. Their input will help you make improvements for your next event.

38. Continuous Learning Opportunities

Promote ongoing learning by providing resources, recommended books, or online courses.

Team TriviaIdeas to Use Gamification to Improve Engagement During Your SKO

According to Gabe Zichermann, author of Gamification by Design, gamification increases employee skill retention by approximately 40%. It works so well in sales training because using games for learning gives participants a more immediate and meaningful understanding of new products and services. All while practicing their sales techniques in realistic situations with colleagues.

Here are several ways that you can use gamification 

39. Team Competition

Friendly team-based competition allows players to play individually while their scores roll up to an entire team score. Use challenges or simulations that test sales skills and encourage collaboration. Use leaderboards to see how teams compare to each other. And how players compare to each other within a group. 

40. Trade Show Passport game

Encourage players to visit your trade fair, product fair, partner stations, or booths.

41. Scavenger Hunt

Hide physical objects throughout your event. Let players find those objects and scan a QR code to earn points. This creates a fun way to move people throughout all of the parts of your event space without making it seem like a chore. The QR Code makes it easy to track who found each object.

42. Amazing Race to Pub and Grub

Create an Amazing Race that journeys players through your city’s bars, restaurants, and hotspots. Use clues to help them find each location. End with all teams sharing photos and celebrating at the final social event.

43. Quiz series

Create a series of trivia quizzes on market knowledge, product knowledge, and sales skills. Use a cumulative leaderboard to summarize the points from a player’s quizzes with one total score.

44. Role Play and Simulation Mastery

Allow players to earn points for their performance on role-play activities in your conference. Translate your facilitator’s scoring rubric for the role play and simulations into issues for your game leaderboard. 


Smash your sales kickoff meeting goals with SocialPoint

Why settle for a boring, run-of-the-mill sales meeting when you can level up by using some of the ideas above.  If you want to take your Sales-kickoff meeting to another level – consider gamification. From thrilling team-building challenges to exciting individual competitions, there are endless ways to make your event a game-changer. 

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg on what you can accomplish with SocialPoint. Talk to our team today about how we can help you boost your sales team’s performance through gamification.

Written by

Samuel J. Smith is a thought leader, researcher, speaker and award winning innovator on event technology. In 2011, BizBash Magazine added Sam to its annual innovators list. Since then, Sam has won awards from Exhibitor Magazine, IBTM World, RSVP MN, International Live Events Association and MPI for innovation in event technology.