Second Edition

Annual Study: What Attendees Want from Their 2024 Sales Kickoff

The 2024 Sales Kickoff Report

The annual report that redefines the SKO is back.
As the hybrid workforce continues to be the industry standard in this modern workplace, patterns and needs are solidifying. 

There is a continued emphasis on the need to empower sales professionals to improve the use of core tools while modernizing multidisciplinary skill sets. With recent industry contractions and force reductions, the best sales teams align with organizational strategy, feel confident in their product and skills, and are motivated to achieve their goals.

Continued success in the hybrid workplace has generated a change in priorities, shifting the emphasis toward connection through competition, recognition, and celebration at in-person gatherings. Annual sales kickoff meetings (SKOs) are tactical investments to drive meaningful returns and bring sales teams together in person to foster culture, celebrate success, forge deep relationships, and provide hands-on training. Investing in these opportunities to gather for a singular experience ensures confidence and connection for growth in the coming year. 

As we move into a new fiscal year and as businesses begin planning their SKOs for 2024, the teams at Opus Agency fielded a purposeful, research-intensive study to answer the singular question:

What do technology industry-specific sales professionals want from their next SKO? 

Completed in June 2023, this annual report from Opus Agency surveyed a cross-section of technology sales professionals ranging from executive leaders to account representatives across several age brackets and various company sizes. Throughout the survey, our team analyzed what attendees, from executives to individual contributors, want from the sales kickoff event, how they want to engage, what aspects are most impactful, and how that’s changed since we conducted the survey last year. 

Dig in with us as we unpack the seven insights and frame the recommendations to enable technology sellers to get the most out of your next SKO.

Insights for Defining Strategies

Traversing Disconnects

Confidence levels in the direction of the business and the economy vary between sales roles and age

Utilize SKOs to leverage the perspective and confidence of senior leaders to align teams on outlook and sales objectives.

Confidence in the organization and economy continues to vary by responsibility and role. Overall, there is an improvement in the economic outlook and confidence in the organization. To provide reassurance, organizations should utilize senior leadership for inspirational content and leverage the optimism of manager-level attendees to drive confidence and success post-event. 

Aligning Expectations

Sellers have shifting expectations for social SKO components. 

Design purposeful opportunities that incorporate competition, recognition, and celebration.  

Last year, Networking was a top social priority for respondents, but it has since been surpassed by the traditional social components of Friendly Competition and Leaderboards, Awards and Recognition, and Parties and Receptions. The value inherent in each still varies by role, requiring thoughtful threading of these themes through the event experience. 

Prioritizing Investments

Attendees expect SKOs to facilitate training on tools and platforms, leadership development, and skills development, showing little shift in the last twelve months.

Continue to deliver on this expectation by ensuring sales enablement is fully integrated into the meeting content planning process. 

When asked what could help them be more successful, respondents continued to choose Improving Sales Enablement and More Sales Leads as top priorities. More Sales Assets, More Training, and More Subject Matter Experts rounded out the top five needs.

Insights for Designing Experiences

Keynotes and Content

Steady trends show that early career professionals want soft skills development. At the same time, seasoned employees are more likely to opt for content focusing on motivation and trends. 


Curate content themes to meet the needs of your workforce. 

Compared to the first edition of this study, the overall top five themes for keynotes held steady, with a shift in rank.

Networking and Training 

While the overall top five event priorities remain unchanged YoY, there has been a reordering of these factors, and their level of importance varies across roles. 

Shift the balance of event experiences to match current priorities and maximize event value. 

Our study suggests that overall event experience priorities remained constant year over year, with a shift in ranking. Sales Training Breakouts bumped Networking from the top spot overall, but the ranking of the top components varies by attendee group. Content and experience design should take into consideration the needs of each group to ensure that the event delivers value. 

Content Delivery 

Respondents want sales training through hands-on demonstrations, sales simulations, and practice sessions. 

Harness the power of in-person experiences to move the needle on education, training, and team building.

In-person SKOs allow attendees to slow down, tune in, and gain a deeper understanding. Event strategists should leverage the opportunity and design content focused on practicing with the tools and skills needed to be successful. 

Awards and Recognition 

Respondents now rank awards and recognition as a top priority. 

Bring recognition and appreciation forward as an event priority to highlight the past year’s success and leverage for continued motivation. 

As the marketplace shifted over the last year, Awards and Recognition gained importance, moving up into the top three overall event components. Highlighting top performers draws additional value for attendees while instilling a deep sense of pride in top performers. 

Point of View by YoY Data

What’s Changing?

Compared to previous years, attendees shifted their priorities to celebration, recognition, and friendly competition.  

Last year, attendees strongly emphasized networking, particularly for the social opportunities embedded within the event. This emphasis was driven by a desire for human connection after a prolonged period of virtual meetings. Additionally, the youngest members of the workforce commenced their careers in a fully remote work environment, heightening their eagerness to engage in networking opportunities.  

Now that hybrid models are more common, with many employers requiring a partial return to the office, the need for connection has lessened, and celebration has taken its place.  

What’s Not Changing?

Similar to previous years, attendees place a strong emphasis on skills development. Hands-on demonstrations and skill practicing opportunities continue to take the top spots on the session format ranking, while networking has dropped in the rankings (although still a top priority).  

Additionally, there are continued disconnects in outlook and confidence levels by role and age.  

This framework ensures that SKOs deliver on the promise of connection, culture, skills, and recognition.

Sales teams are more efficient than ever. Hybrid work means less travel time and increased customer contact, but it can also lead to fatigue and disconnect from the larger organization and its mission. SKOs provide opportunities for teams to reconnect, recommit, and recharge. 

With many individual contributors having entered the workforce during the macro shift toward hybrid work, bringing teams together in person is extremely valuable. 

SKOs encourage teams to connect, human to human, to unite communities, practice skills, amplify culture, and celebrate action. Understanding the preferences and expectations of each audience segment results in SKOs that hit the mark for each attendee and meet the objectives of the organization.

Want to review this data and our findings in detail?

Download the full report (PDF). 

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