SKO 2021 and Beyond

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For the better part of the last decade I’ve served as a sales leader for different organizations around the world. During that time, I’ve attended more Sales Kick Offs than I can remember, and although each company, continent, region, and team is different, the core of every successful Sales Kick Off has remained the same. People get together to honor achievements as well as rally under the banner of the coming year. And I can confidently say that when done right, few things align people under the same goals better than a successful Sales Kick Off. 

I’ve chatted with dozens of sales leaders in my network about their SKO plans over the last few months and I’ve learned that they can use Hopin to foster the exact ambience and vibe they're looking for that unites a team effectively—especially a remote company. 

Let’s talk about a traditional SKO for a moment. Oversimplifying, the event itself brings people to one location to salute their successes and single out those who made them possible. The leaders highlight customers and announce coming changes. It’s a chance for everyone to analyze, learn, and evaluate their go-to-market strategies while welcoming new members to the extended team. But after this last year, we know the world has changed. What millions of people across the planet couldn’t do in person, they’ve done online — to varying degrees of success. To put it lightly and perhaps lacking in color, 2020 became a year of change. Now, 2021 can be the continuation and evolution of that change, bringing with it the boom for remote organizations: a whole new way for teams to celebrate and get motivated.

With that said, let’s talk about SKOs at Hopin. With Hopin, you can combine accessibility and cross-functional efficiency while presenting within your own curated digital space. The platform offers customization and branding at any level, be it the Reception, the Stage, Sessions, Networking, or Expo. Within each, our features drive engagement and participation for all attendees, avoiding the passive viewer experience. For example, our Slido (polls) and Miro (collaborative whiteboarding) integrations bring a new level of interactivity to SKO. Attendees can give real-time feedback and contribute on a granular level, no matter the crowd size. 

Some of our newest benefits come on the heels of our StreamYard acquisition, upgrading not only the viewer experience, but the speaker’s experience as well. Our backstage allows speakers to communicate with event organizers as well as other speakers within the queue before they go live. Similarly, all involved can see the energetic chat populating in real-time while event administrators pull chats from the feed and create banners for a clean Q&A or roundtable discussion.

From a logistics standpoint, Hopin eases the financial burden and offers advantages that enhance the SKO-attendee experience. Aside from the obvious—foregoing the need for hotel blocks, flight pricing and purchasing, and reservations—Hopin makes SKOs global and inclusive, providing accessibility features that round out equal opportunities for the full team and allowing those with familial obligations to modify their schedules as needed. And every teammate, regardless of location or need, can enjoy the same high-quality experience. 

What about the event planners? Planning an SKO is no small task. Hopin also provides data and features that simplifies planning on an administrative level as well. With a flexible scheduling tool, organizers can create a tiered ticketing system for all participants listing speakers, sessions, regional breakouts, as well as entertainment, enabling more clarity and exploration that you would have in a large ballroom venue. As an example, should sales executives in the United States wish to attend their regional discussions, but also the day’s keynote and nothing else, your team has access to that data. Considering this data on a macro level, organizers can inform session leaders and speakers of their expected crowd size, demographics, and team presence before the event even begins. 

As a social example (because what’s an SKO without the unstructured celebrations and mild hangovers), should organizers decide to personalize a happy hour event, they can generate a registrant list from Hopin’s ticket dashboard and plan accordingly, either sending swag, supplies, or food stipends, such as through our UberEats integration to each participant. Mingling can take place in Sessions or Networking, crafting that personal or group experience singular to an SKO. 

Despite the best efforts of creating casual fun in a company culture--the slack channels full of pets, children, hobbies, or catch-up syncs—work is still work and fun sometimes gets left out. However, we believe celebrations should evolve with the same tenacity as the remote home office. Don’t skip an SKO waiting for the world to spin back to the way things were. Build your new normal with the new technology available to you. Create an environment of sustainable relationships and memories that persist during slumps or dashes to the end of the quarter. Because, as we’ve learned in 2020, a business is not made of its brick and mortar. It’s made of the team. 

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