What is a Sales Kickoff?

Companies host Sales Kickoffs (SKOs) at the beginning of their fiscal year to get together for an important, facetoface, internal conference. The objective of an SKO is to look back on the past year’s efforts to celebrate and improve, meet and train in the present, and motivate and strategize for the future. What better way to kick off the year than to gather and engage your sales teams! 

Purpose of Sales Kickoffs

SKOs are an excellent platform for sales teams to learn, grow, and re-energize for the upcoming year. It is a time to celebrate the past year’s successes and review the opportunities and missteps. The C-suite gets a chance to present key strategic updates and present new goals, and reps are given better tools, training, and materials to boost commissions.

Execute engaging breakout meetings where the sales team can be trained on different products, participate in personal development, and round table discussions regarding what worked and what did not last year. Build an agenda that is content-rich and also allows for networking, bonding, and teambuilding through evening events, meals, and group activities.

Typical Audience

The typical attendee invited to an SKO may include a company’s sales force (sales, sales operations, sales enablement, sales leaders), marketing, product team, training team, and the entire leadership team. Sales Kickoffs may include a small group of vendors to demo their products as well. It is essential to review the attendee’s demographics (age, gender, education, income) and note the audience is salesfocused, so goals and objectives must be clear and concise, and content must be high energy and engaging to hold employees’ attention.  

Sourcing Requirements / Budget Drivers

As mentioned, most Sales Kickoffs are scheduled during January and February, so it is recommended to source the SKO destination and hotel at least 18-24 months out to secure the ideal hotel, guest room rate, and most importantly, meeting space. Most SKOs need a large ballroom for the general session, a separate ballroom for meals and awards dinner, and many smaller meeting rooms for breakouts.  

Keep the destination’s location in mind for guest room rate, airfare, and possibly select a tier 2 city over tier 1 (Louisville, Portland, Oklahoma City versus Chicago, Las Vegas, NYC). Be flexible with your requested dates, and that will allow the guestroom rate to flux to fit within your budget.  

When budgeting for a Sales Kickoff, the main budget drivers, besides room rate and airfare, are food and beverage and audiovisual. A/V is the most important element of the program and most impactful. Also, don’t forget to budget for a keynote speaker, emcee, branding, mobile app, and more! 


• Sourcing for accommodations, meeting space, A/V
• Full program creative design with brand integration
• Stage design and décor for the entire event
• On-site operations personnel and travel directors
• Full scale, flexible registration websites
• Registration services via web and call center
• Name badges and signage
• Presentation templates and branding
• Meeting kits and fulfillment
• Promotional products and attendee incentives
• Professionally designed confirmations and reminders
• Comprehensive cost reconciliation
• Post-event attendee evaluations 


With every event comes challenges, many of which can be avoided with proper pre-planning. Because sales kickoffs are often only two or three days, try to keep away from destinations where attendees may be traveling for extended amounts of time to get to the meeting. It is not ideal for attendees to take a red-eye overnight flight after the SKO concludes, land in the morning, and go into the office the next day.  

Be cognizant when creating the invitation list. It is customary to invite the entire sales force along with the company executives. Remember to invite new hires, as well as remove employees who are no longer with the company, or are at risk, so they do not receive an invitation in error.  

Once your keynote speaker has been selected, prepare and review the company, its goals, audience, overall meeting theme. It is imperative he or she understands these aspects in order to tailor the keynote message to best reach the sales team.  

Most importantly, ensure your audiovisual team is up to the task. More often than not, audiovisual errors are the largest disruptions to a meeting. It is crucial to secure a team far in advance, review and confirm all of your A/V needs will be met, and then rehearse, rehearse, rehearse once on-site for the meeting. Rehearsals may seem redundant and tedious; however, if it avoids presentation errors during the event, it will be 100% worth it.  

Creative Tips

Ensure your SKO theming and branding ties to the goal and objective of the conference. What is the key target for the upcoming year? To Elevate the company or Accelerate sales? Utilize bright, colorful imagery on the website, printed collateral, and mobile app that stands out and will be recognizable for attendees. Creating video content that recaps the previous year, showcases the conference, and reveals the upcoming incentive trip destination will add another layer of professionalism and engagement that is difficult to substitute

Is your VP of Sales acting as the ‘host’ for the meeting? This may not be ideal if they are not trained in public speaking, get nervous, have a monotone voice, and don’t use eye contact. Hiring a Master of Ceremonies (emcee) could be the perfect solution to provide a seamless transition between speakersEmcees are professionals who do this for a living, and have impactful tricks up their sleeves to re-engage employees after a long day of general session and breakouts.  

If the budget allows, consider enhancing the general session space with new and unique audiovisual features. These could include LED walls, TED-style lettering, modular scenic tiles, enhanced lighting, projection mapping, and more. Transforming this space where attendees will spend hours of their time is an impactful use of a kickoff budget.  

Utilizing an IMAG camera (image magnification) with recording capabilities during a sales kickoff could benefit the company in several ways. To amplify its effect, have the production team take the content and edit into an overall summary video of the sales kickoff for employees. Additionally, utilize a post-event site where employees can access the video footage, documents and training materials, and a photo gallery to help them reminisce and validate the time spent at the sales kickoff and all they have learned.  

Why Brightspot?

Are you ready to plan your inaugural sales kickoff? Or take your existing sales kickoff to the next level? Brightspot can take you there with its lean, mean, logistics machine, specializing in booking flights rapidly and closely monitoring your budget. Brightspot is prepared to amplify your event with creative event design ideas, audiovisual, theming, and branding.  

For the tech-savvy events, Brightspot creates and manages a mobile event app dedicated to your group. The app could help you go paperless for your event, increase employee engagement, maximize network capabilities, and more.  

Brightspot is here to take all of the logistics of planning the event off of your plate. This allows you more dedicated time to focus on content creation, strategies, and hosting the leadership team. Drop us a line, and let’s start thinking up bright ideas!