5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Sales Kickoffs

Annual events like sales kickoffs are a prime opportunity for the entire sales team to lay the foundation for success so employees feel like they’re on the right track as both individuals and as a team. This is why, when organizing a sales kickoff, the focus should be on tailoring applicable, consumable and captivating materials to each event.

In the post-Covid workplace, many teams work either entirely remotely or in a hybrid set-up, so often, a kickoff is the only time everyone is together during the year. This further intensifies the importance of making the most of this prime opportunity for building relationships, engaging the team, carving our career paths and networking with others.

Here are five ways sales leaders can make the most of the sales kickoff.

1. Outline Realistic Objectives

Be bold, but make sure you are also realistic with what you want to achieve. This is key to hitting, and exceeding, goals. Understanding your objective clearly keeps your mind laser-focused for the year ahead. Whilst sales kickoffs are a fantastic opportunity to reinforce good habits and develop individual capabilities, it is unrealistic to believe you are going to change the entire mindset of the sales team within the two- to three-day event. Sales leaders should develop a reasonable schedule by focusing on sections in smaller groups.

2. Concentrate on Team Connections

Concentrating on the team connections is a sure-fire way to ensure you are making the most of sales kickoff opportunities. For those who work entirely remotely or in a hybrid setup primarily connecting virtually via Zoom or email, this sales kickoff could be the first time they meet their colleagues in person. As a leader, you cannot underestimate this opportunity to not only help them build team connections, but it is also your chance to learn more about them as an individual.

By scheduling team-building activities and exercises during the kickoff, leaders can encourage employees to build and cement new relationships that go beyond the transnational conversations that can sometimes dominate a virtual workplace. Gathering a better understanding of each other can help teams motivate and support each other more effectively. These team-building activities should both role model good behaviour as well as getting the team talking.

3. Encourage Direct Leadership Involvement

While the event is designed to catalyse change within participants, it is also a great opportunity for the entire leadership team to get involved and learn more about the team. The leaders have the opportunity to learn and grow themselves whilst coaching others and, most importantly, demonstrating being a present leader who is open to ongoing learning.

It can also open a window of opportunity to assess your team’s competencies live. While your team interacts with activities and exercises, you might spot areas that you could begin to develop and address with each rep at an appropriate time during the kickoff.

Spending time with the team, both as a team and one-to-one, helps you invest in their individual growth, and it helps you develop your leadership skills. If you are seen to be present, the team is much more likely to come to you with challenges and see you as a supportive person in their corner.

4. Promote Relevant Networking Activities

Sales kickoffs provide the perfect opportunity to encourage networking activities. Scheduling time to discuss career paths, gathering key speakers to discuss their career trajectories, or helping others build Personal Boards and portfolios are great exercises to help employees understand the possible career pathways and opportunities available to them at your organisation.

Consider all employees when promoting relevant networking activities, as every individual will be at different stages of their career, have different preferences and requirements. Ensure you are offering a range of accessible options and encouraging those who are established in their careers to offer guidance to those who are just starting out to accelerate growth and inspire. This should also happen the other way around as younger team members can bring a fresh perspective.

5. Engage the Team

Kickoff events often last over two to three days, so it is paramount the engagement levels remain consistent. To ensure attendees get the most out of the event, leaders should incorporate a mix of shorter sessions, formal and informal exercises, and cover a mixture of subjects to encourage professional and personal growth.

You may wish to invite external speakers and industry experts to engage the team. Bringing new perspectives, and inspiring stories to maximise attendees’ motivation and provide them with valuable and relevant insights to drive progress.

However you decide to organize your sales kickoff, it is paramount to remember that the goals don’t end when the event is over. A successful sales kickoff continues to support throughout the year, encouraging the business, employees and sales leaders to achieve their goals, remain motivated and communicate efficiently.


  • Emma Maslen

    Emma Maslen is the founder and CEO of sales consultancy inspir’em and author of “The Personal Board of You Inc.” She has 20+ years in the technology sector, working with household names such as Sun Microsystems, BMC Software, SAP Concur and Ping Identity.

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