8 Steps to Host a Motivating Virtual Sales Kickoff Event

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We just held our go-to-market offsite for the quarter on Hopin (yes, we proudly eat our own dog food) and it was amazing — so we’re sharing screenshots and lessons learned for anyone else looking to do the same.

More generally, Sales Kickoffs (SKOs) can be a great way to supercharge your sales for the year, but how do you make your virtual SKO motivating, educational, and fun for your revenue organization?

That's what this blog post is about. Here are eight steps to easily curate a great “offsite” experience for your sales team that will make them come away excited and energized to close deals and hit goals.

1. Create your SKO virtual venue.

Instead of spending time on venue walkthroughs, you’ll get to build the most on-brand venue and tailored attendee experience yet online. Make sure your branding is incorporated throughout and you create space for all the awesome content and engagement your team will experience remotely. There’s a lot of room for creativity here based on your SKO theme, and it’s important to take the time to think through the space you’re creating for this flagship event.

Use the Hopin Stage for major announcements and keynote presentations, but mix your agenda up with additional workshops, roundtable conversations, and networking. You can also stack your agenda with different tracks and give your team the agency to attend the sessions on subjects that are important to them. Make sure to bake in breaks between different sessions to allow time to network (and engage the way they would lining up for snacks or buzzing through the hallway) or visit booths where you can have additional sales enablement materials for the team to digest.

For the Hopin team’s GTM Kickoff we decided to go with a Harry Potter theme. Whether teammates were familiar with the books (or movies) it was a familiar idea and our team was delighted with the “Hop-warts” branding incorporated throughout the event.

2. Build excitement and set expectations before the official start.

Communicate with your sales org in advance all the awesome things you have planned and how they can get the most out of this year’s kickoff before it starts. You can also use this pre-event communication to collect insights from the team to present back with a "what we learned from you."

3. Kick off with a bang.

Set the vibe with music as everyone takes a seat in front of your virtual stage for the event. Or even better, kick things off with a playful video. Hopin’s biggest employee all-hands kicked off with a Star Wars themed intro video which was a clever way to get the team excited. We knew it landed well when the chat started buzzing with dozens of messages!

4. Plan a motivating keynote.

Your first keynote speaker will set the tone for your entire SKO, so you want to make sure they are set up for success. When speakers join the Stage, use a catchy “at-bat” song to welcome them and keep the energy high. And during the keynote and Stage presentations, encourage audience participation in the chat! "Where's everybody tuning in from?" Your team will remain engaged when they see everyone else is engaged as well. You can always download the chat after the event to leverage the key points and takeaways that are resonating with peers.

In line with our Harry Potter theme, once the keynote wrapped we had two sales team members join the stage in costume (and character) to keep the excitement going.

5. Maximize engagement with back-and-forth conversation.

You have compelling content to share, but your Virtual SKO should also prioritize opportunities for real-time engagement. In order to maintain maximum engagement throughout your event, one approach we’ve seen work well is to keep content pieces to a fast-paced 30 minutes and pair that with audience interaction.

For Hopin’s kickoff, we featured additional conversation when various sales team leaders and cross-functional stakeholders joined the stage to cover certain topics. The team found the leads' costumes and commitment to the theme hilarious. And from their live video, it’s always great when speakers give shout outs and recognition to people watching.

In addition to leveraging the Chat and engaging with Polls, you can have your reps come on screen to share their questions. This helps facilitate an enjoyable back-and-forth conversational experience.

6. Network! Network! Network!

You can configure networking opportunities where everyone meets everyone, and also create space for Networking via ticket matching so that certain team members only other team members (ie sales with marketing). Day of the event, we recommend scheduling Networking before the event begins – at the start, carve out at least 30 minutes of open networking and exploration to give your team the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the event, introduce themselves in the chat, and build excitement before your welcome keynote on Stage.

7. Feature customers as guest speakers.

Having the voice of the customer incorporated into your programming is a SKO best practice. At Hopin we had our CEO Johnny interview the Catapult team, a great customer based out of Ireland that produces some of the biggest virtual events including conferences hosted by The UN, SaaStock, and Girl Scouts. The pool of customers you can feature as speakers is widened significantly when your SKO is virtual and they don’t have to fly to attend onsite.

8. Throw in some entertainment!

Spice things up with a cocktail or cooking class that the team can participate in. Organize a game show with an MC. Or you can hire a live band or DJ! The best sales kickoffs tend to incorporate professional audiovisual elements — an experience you can still do virtually on Hopin. We particularly loved the DJ featured at SaaStock this past fall.

Whether your SKO is a five-day conference or one day summit, join the hundreds of companies hosting successful company engagement events on Hopin. Sign up for free today or contact our team to get a demo.

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