As epic all-rounders, field marketers often find themselves tasked with managing both internal and external event strategies. And while the latter is your bread and butter, the former is equally vital to your bottom line.
Sales kickoffs (SKOs) play a major part in launching a successful sales strategy — and it’s your job to ensure they work their motivational magic. #nopressure
By now, we’ve seen that SKOs can and do work virtually, but there will always be team members who crave that in-person experience.
Question is, why not have the best of both?
In this guide to hybrid sales kickoff events, we’ll help you make sure your next hybrid SKO is one to remember. Ready? Let’s get to it!
Sales kickoff events (or SKOs for short) are internal events, typically held annually, that bring the whole sales team together to get pumped up for the year ahead. 💪🏻
The goal of an SKO is to announce big-picture goals, align the sales team, and deliver a major boost of motivation for the year ahead.
Here are a few core reasons so many teams love their SKOs:
If you’re new to the world of hybrid SKOs, you might be thinking:
“Okay, I know what an SKO is. But how exactly does the whole hybrid thing work?”
Believe it or not, defining exactly what qualifies as a hybrid event is a topic of some debate. While there are different ways of creating a hybrid event, one thing most event marketers agree on is that they tend to come with some pretty stellar perks.
One part virtual and one part in-person, hybrid events provide more accessibility for remote attendees, valuable networking opportunities for both audiences, and an ultra-engaging event experience.
But as with any other type of event, you need to plan to win.
You’ve decided a hybrid SKO is the way to go — great choice.
But as event legend Lisa Gregory reminds us, if you go hybrid you’re basically “running two events at the same time.” 🤯
Fortunately, with the right preparation you’ll be set to launch your hybrid SKO without a hitch.
If you recently shifted your SKO to a virtual setup, that also meant dropping one of the biggest hits to your event ROI: the venue. Instead, you probably found yourself trading presentation rooms and seating charts for a virtual event platform.
Now that hybrid’s here, you’ll have to juggle both. And that can get a little complicated. So let’s settle the basics.
If you’re all about elevating the virtual component of your hybrid event, narrowing down your platform options is priority #1. But with literally hundreds to choose from, it’s no simple task.
💡Make these essential features part of your non-negotiables list:
💡Then, if you really want to level-up, focus on these two areas:
Experts like Lisa use experience and data-driven platforms that help strike the right balance:
“Hybrid is all about running a full-blown virtual conference on a platform like Goldcast and having a venue that you're streaming from. Speakers appear both in-person and virtually. With Goldcast we could also have parts pre-recorded and a live session in every three tracks.”
Choosing a venue is always tricky.
There’s a lot to consider, including:
…the list goes on.
💡 Keep this checklist handy when browsing venues for your hybrid SKO:
1) Speaker content
2) Engagement display (poll answers, Q&As, live chat streaming, etc.)
3) Virtual attendee interaction and remote audience streaming
An epic sales kickoff starts from the moment your attendees step in and log on. So take the time to ensure you’ll make a great first impression with both your virtual and in-person venues.
Ok. You’ve got your venue and platform sorted.
Next up: the format.
When it comes to hybrid event formats, you typically have three options: the great, the good and the classic table-stakes approach.
Bottom line? Choose a hybrid format that provides an engaging, personalized, and interactive experience for both your virtual and in-person SKO attendees.
If you’re planning to splash the cash on an epic sales kickoff, your boardroom is going to want to know what they’re getting back in return.
To get to the right hybrid event metrics, work back from your sales team’s business goals, e.g. To increase monthly Closed-Won rates by 5%, and ask what relevant sales kickoff goal you can tie it to. Here are some examples:
But remember, hitting your goals isn't a check-box exercise. To really inspire, align, upskill and motivate, you have to engage your SKO attendees throughout the event.
With your pre-event prepwork done and internal teams on board, your sales kickoff is ready to rock.
But the hard work doesn’t stop there.
Now, it’s time to lean in and engage your sales audience.
Let’s be honest. Keeping your audience engaged is always a tough task.
In fact, when it comes to virtual events, audience engagement ranks as the biggest challenge among B2B companies.
“When it comes to virtual events, audience engagement ranks as the biggest challenge among B2B companies.”
And with hybrid, you have double the engagement options to think about. Here’s a quick list to help you keep it simple.
It’s tough to strike the right balance, but try not to over-index on one audience and not the other — they’re both expecting a show.
Engagement features are key. But no one wants style over substance.
Smartling’s Adrian Cohn believes, “The best way to engage users is by creating great content. It all starts with content.” And we couldn’t agree more!
“The best way to engage users is by creating great content. It all starts with content.”
Say goodbye to overhead projectors and monotone speakers.
There are some new content formats in town, and they’re set to wow your hybrid sales kickoff audience:
Congrats! You smashed your hybrid SKO.
There’s just one last step before you kick back from your kickoff .
You guessed it: the follow-up.
Granted, you’re not looking to seal the deal and lock in revenue with an internal event like a hybrid SKO. But follow-ups are still an absolute essential.
With the right hybrid event platform, you have access to key data, such as: Who went to which sessions? Who asked what questions? Did virtual attendees stay for the duration? How did they answer that poll? Did they download any resources? And much more.
💡Use your SKO insights to answer these important questions:
There are no email campaigns or follow-up calls to make. But meetings to discuss and act on your findings can turn out to be an even greater revenue booster.
An epic sales kickoff has a lot to offer. It’s a crucial opportunity to retain your sales superstars, empower your team and, ultimately — ramp up those results.
But a stellar hybrid SKO isn’t always easy to pull off.
If you prep like a pro, prioritize engagement, and use event insights to really improve the employee experience, you’re well on your way to stealing the SKO show. 😉