Sales Kick-Offs

Key Strategic Initiative or Annual Waste of Money?

The sales kick-off is a well-established yearly milestone in many corporate calendars – a popular flagship event for sales teams as a launch to the new financial year and a means to connect, share experiences and celebrate the last 12 months.

But with increasing costs and tightening budgets its value is under scrutiny.
In our role as event experts, we see that some companies are hosting their SKO regardless of the circumstances or economic landscape, some are making the decision based on a review in Q4 of their financial performance that year, while others still are canceling theirs entirely because they don’t see the value of committing budget to it as part of their sales or employee engagement efforts.

It’s clear that, like any event, an SKO needs to deliver a tangible return for the business. But what should that return look like? What is the “right” reason to hold an SKO?

Reward or Incentive – does it matter?

An SKO’s objectives will be different for every organisation, depending on the macro environment it’s operating in; the specific challenges and opportunities it faces; how well it’s performing; the vision, goals and objectives that have been set by the senior leaders; and the overall ‘mood’ within the company.

A company that has recently smashed its sales targets, rewarded its sales team, and recruited into the organisation is likely to have a very different agenda for its SKO compared to a company that has experienced challenges in the marketplace, perhaps fallen short of target, or made redundancies.

Regardless of circumstances or rationale, a good SKO provides a unique opportunity for a reset and alignment of priorities for the coming year. This consistent and repeated message is critical to strategy execution and is ideally reiterated throughout the year at regular all-hands meetings, allowing the leadership team to stay better connected to the salesforce and respond more quickly to changes happening in your market.

If, on the other hand, the main purpose of the SKO is to celebrate the previous 12 months, bringing everyone together for a big party is a great way to publicly recognise top performers and reward teams for their hard work. A joint celebration put on by the company creates a feel-good atmosphere and a sense of belonging and shared purpose, which in turn leaves people feeling motivated and inspired for the months ahead. If some heads are too sore the next morning to attend (or focus on!) the 9am presentation, does that mean the value of the SKO is reduced?

Making the case

“It’s difficult to execute on goals without the front-end being aligned to what the company is trying to achieve”, says Albi van Zyl, Chief Sales Strategy and Operations Officer for global technology company NTT.

“The reason we invest so heavily in our SKO is more ‘carrot’ than ‘stick’. It’s an opportunity to motivate, inspire and create belief in the company’s capabilities and our value to clients. We also use it as a forum to publicly recognize our top performers which in turn again motivates and inspires people.”

A common objective

Regardless of the main reason for holding an SKO or its chosen format, they all have one ambition in common: to provide a memorable experience that changes the way people think, feel, and act. An experience that inspires people to take action with positive outcomes for the business and its future success.

Whether you view your SKO as more carrot than stick or vice-versa, for more tips on how to plan and deliver your 2024 meeting, improve your ROI, and increase its impact throughout the year, download our new guide here.

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