Keep Your Sales Kickoff Simple

Over the course of a 30- year sales career, I have attended over a hundred Sales Kickoff (SKO) meetings. In some cases, I was the attendee; in others, I was a manager/leader within the organization. Over the past decade, I have often been a speaker/facilitator to help my customers get their year off to a strong start.

One thing I’ve learned that is sure to kill an SKO is when the organization tries to do too much in a small window of time. It’s easy to see how this can happen. Companies spend a lot of money to fly in team members from across the world, and it’s tempting to want to “take advantage” of having everyone in one room.

But, trying to jam too much information into one SKO almost always backfires. When attendees are bombarded with information from product development, customer service, operations, sales & marketing, strategic planning, learning and development and senior leadership; the result is a jumbled mess. Sales people walk away overwhelmed, confused and unmotivated.

Instead, here are a few ways to avoid information overload and create an inspirational and tactically beneficial SKO:

  • Require that pre-work be done by attendees: What information can be delivered virtually that doesn’t have to be presented via a PowerPoint deck?


  • Make the main session and breakout sessions fewer and shorter


  • Build in follow up/feedback from attendees: Don’t let the sessions be passive—require that attendees provide specific feedback on how they will use the information shared to win more opportunities and improve their overall performance as a sales team.


  • Coordinate Content: Have one person review all the content to make sure the material has clear connections and avoids redundancy

And last, but not least……

  • Limit the Awards Given: Nothing will bore attendees more than a drawn-out award event that gives out too many trophies.

 An extreme example of reducing the scope of an SKO is eliminating the event entirely. Some companies have gone this route, but I don’t recommend it. SKO’s have an important purpose in bringing a sales team together for face-to-face collaboration and learning.

So, here’s hoping that your next SKO adheres to my recommendations above. Some will say “more is better”. I suggest instead that “better is better”. If you can keep your content focused on painting an overall vision, providing tactical tools, and seeking to inspire, your SKO will be a success.