Sales Kickoff (SKO)

Last modified on:

October 27, 2023

What does SKO mean and why do companies have SKOs? This article explains everything you need to know about SKOs and how you throw a great SKO. Here is the table of contents: 

  • What does SKO mean in sales?
  • Why do companies have SKOs?
  • How do you throw a great SKO?

What does SKO mean in sales? 

SKO is an acronym in sales that stands for Sales Kickoff. An SKO is a meeting for your sales team that is typically held on an annual or quarterly basis to set sales goals for the period and provide training. 

Sales kickoffs (SKOs) are all about getting the entire staff on the same page. They're a way to get everyone excited about the upcoming year, focused on the same goals, and excited about the same product or company. Sales kickoffs are also helpful for introducing new teams to each other and getting them started off on the right foot.


Why do companies have SKOs? 

Companies may hold sales kickoff events for different reasons:

  • To get everyone excited about what's coming up. This is a great time to introduce new products from your catalog or announce any changes you've made recently that might affect your customers' experiences buying from you.
  • To tell success stories from current customers. 
  • To give everyone access to customer support training so they're able to handle questions better than ever before—and avoid losing sales because of it!

Here are some good questions to ask during your kickoff meeting:

  • What are our goals for this cycle?
  • How will we keep track of progress so far through weekly reports or check-ins at every stage of the process (i.e., pre-qualification, qualification, presentation)?
  • What new products/services can we share with customers? 
  • How will we train our team on what’s new?  
  • What customer success stories can we share to get everyone excited? 

How do you throw a great sales kickoff?

Here is a step by step outline about how to throw a great sales kickoff for your company. 

Set objectives

Before you start your SKO, it’s important to define the problem. The first step towards solving a problem is to identify what it is. For example: If your goal is to lose weight but you don’t know how much weight you want to lose and when, then how will you know if your efforts are successful?

When setting goals, there are two things that can cause problems:

  • Setting unrealistic goals (e.g., losing 10 pounds in one month)
  • Setting too many goals at once (e.g., trying to get fit while also trying out for swim team)

Clearly define your goals for the quarter or year. This will then inform how to plan your sales kickoff. 

Have a plan

Your sales kickoff needs to have a clear purpose and goal, so that attendees know what they’re there for and can get the most out of their time at the event. Think about your goals for this event: What do you want people to walk away with? An actionable plan of how to make it happen? A sense of excitement about what’s coming up next? Whatever it is, make sure that your kickoff covers all the bases.

Have a theme

When planning a sales kickoff, don’t think “standard conference session” or “standard training workshop.” You want something memorable—something that will stick with people long after they leave (and hopefully inspire them). 

For example, if your company has just launched its new website or product line, why not hold an interactive workshop where participants can test it out? Or if you want people to feel more connected with one another so they can better collaborate on projects in future months—why not do team building activities as part of your kickoff? The possibilities are endless!

Set and communicate key dates

Key dates are important milestones in your business, and it makes sense to set a calendar reminder for these so that you don’t miss out on anything. 

These can include:

  • Dates for key events, such as product launches or new client meetings
  • Dates for key milestones (e.g., “Our sales team needs to deliver three proposals by this date”)
  • Dates for key deadlines (e.g., “We have until December 1st before the office closes down until next year!”)
  • Dates for key deliverables (e.g., “It's time to submit all orders by X date!”)

Assign topics and speaking responsibilities

After you set a plan for what topics you’ll cover, think about who would be the best person to present the information. What are their credentials, experience and what message do they want to share?

Determine a venue for the SKO

The venue you choose for your event is a big deal. It’s important to choose a venue that has enough space for all your guests, can accommodate those who need special accommodations, and is accessible for all attendees.

  • Wifi and electricity are must-haves in any venue—if you don’t have these, we recommend finding an alternative space!
  • A comfortable environment is important because no one wants to sit on hard chairs all day long! Make sure your guests will be comfortable as they collaborate with each other.
  • Keep in mind that some people may need additional accommodation (e.g., ramps) so they can access the venue and participate fully in the event.

Plan team activities

What activities should you plan for your attendees? Games, trivia, and icebreakers can be great to help your attendees get to know each other. They’re also a fun way for everyone to get energized and feel like they’re part of the team.

If you want to step it up a notch, try some team building activities! These will help your attendees strengthen their collaboration skills and feel more connected with their teammates.

Brainstorming is another great activity for teams that need to come up with new ideas—it gets people thinking outside-the-box and sharing their own unique perspectives. 

Team huddles are also perfect for getting everyone on board before launching into a big project or presentation; this allows you to make sure everyone understands what needs doing before moving forward in your business venture together. 

You can even use sales calls as an opportunity for learning by recording yourself making the call so you can listen back later and see where things went wrong or right!

After your SKO, stay connected.

After you've given your SKO, don't be afraid to remind people of what was covered. You want to hammer these concepts home over and over again throughout the quarter. Reinforce key information with ongoing training. Every month, measure progress against your revenue goals. 

SaaS Marketing Case Study
Sales Kickoff (SKO)

Ian Frameworks

Sales and marketing executive at a venture backed, product-led, B2B SaaS company.