Opus Agency Study: What Attendees Want from Their Next Sales Kickoff
The Sales Kickoff Report
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Reimagined patterns and practices in the virtual workplace have generated a fresh demand for team connection, specialized skills, and hands-on training. Annual sales kickoff meetings (SKOs) are tactical investments to drive meaningful returns, bringing sales teams together to foster culture, forge deep relationships, provide hands-on training, and celebrate successes. When organizations invest in opportunities to gather teams for a singular experience, they outperform competitors and grow new business.
As we move into a new fiscal year and as businesses begin planning their next round of SKOs, the team 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 July 2022, this report from Opus Agency surveyed a cross-section of technology sales professionals ranging from executive leaders to account representatives across several age brackets and from 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, and what aspects are most impactful.
This study uncovers seven key insights and recommendations to enable technology sellers to get the most out of your next SKO.
Let’s dig in.
1. Traversing Disconnects
Insight: Confidence levels in the direction of business vary between sales roles.
Recommendation: Utilize SKOs to align on sales objectives.
Across org charts, confidence in the economy and business efficacy varies by responsibility and role. To improve optimism, consider providing director and manager-level stakeholders access to the planning process to gain alignment, improve operations, and amplify confidence in the strategic direction of the organization.
2. Aligning Expectations
Insight: Sellers have different expectations about social SKO components.
Recommendation: Design purposeful networking opportunities that incorporate multiple priorities for alignment.
Managers and directors prioritize different social components of an SKO than what leadership and individual contributors deem essential. Opportunities to align on event value include networking, awards, recognition, and competition.
3. Prioritizing Investments
Insight: Attendees expect SKOs to facilitate product demonstration and skills training.
Recommendation: Deliver on this expectation by ensuring sales enablement is fully integrated into the meeting content.
Sales enablement encounters sellers daily and has vital information on preferred learning styles and insights that inform event themes and objectives. Bringing sales enablement stakeholders into the early planning phases allows for optimized educational content integration that provides attendees with the learning frameworks and tools they need.
4. Keynotes and Content
Insight: Early career professionals want soft skills development, while seasoned employees are more likely to opt for content focusing on trends and leadership.
Recommendation: Curate content themes to meet the needs of your workforce.
Markers like age, job function, and business size determine the types of keynote themes that attract attendees. Ensure content is balanced and tailored to attendees' needs by considering team demographics and surveying attendees on anticipated outcomes.
5. Networking and Competition
Insight: Attendees want different ways to engage, celebrate, and connect — depending on their role in the organization.
Recommendation: Sprinkle various networking and competition experience throughout the program to maximize connections and celebrate accomplishments.
Sellers are competitive by nature — spirited challenges and creative gamification boost the “fun factor” of an SKO. Planners can organize teams across multiple regions or sales disciplines to satisfy the networking needs and objectives of stakeholders and attendees.
6. Education and Training
Insight: Respondents want sales training in the form of hands-on demonstrations, sales simulations, and practice sessions.
Recommendation: Harness the power of in-person experiences to move the needle on education, training, and team building.
In a world of on-demand training, the top objectives for in-person meetings often mirror the biggest challenges for virtual environments. SKOs allow attendees to slow down, tune in, and walk away with deeper understandings and stronger relationships.
7. Awards and Recognition
Insight: Respondents do not rank awards and recognition as a top priority.
Recommendation: Thread recognition throughout the program to maximize benefit and keep attendees engaged.
Featuring top sellers and president club winners in meeting content like panels or roundtables gives them a sense of pride and allows the rest of the organization to learn from their methods. Creating additional opportunities for recognition outside of an awards night shows a deeper appreciation and understanding of the value these top performers bring to the team and organization.
Understanding Attendee Preferences
Sales teams are more efficient than ever. Working virtually 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 remote work, the value of bringing teams together in person is higher than ever.
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.
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